User talk:Netzhack

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Every once in a while I get into a peeve about some piece of English syntax and go on an editing campaign. Here are some rationales. (You can still use my talk page for other stuff; feel free to add a section.)

Oh – also I'm one of the developers of NetzHack (note the 'z'), the German localized version of NetHack. You can talk to me about that too.

"chance to" = opportunity; "chance of" = probability

I've started checking pages systematically for misuse of "chance to", and correcting them.

I realize the expression "chance to hit" is a regular part of D&D jargon, but nothing is lost by changing it to standard English ("chance of hitting" works just fine even on the page To-hit) along with the rest of the occurrences, most of which look like the product of simple (understandable) ignorance on the part of non-native English speakers, many of whom show a preference for infinitives where English idioms use gerunds. —Netzhack (talk) 14:11, 28 December 2016 (UTC)

Ten months later and no one has reverted a single one of those many corrections! Thanks for your acceptance of this little bit of pedantry, gang. Netzhack (talk) 12:31, 19 October 2017 (UTC)
Four years later and still no reversions, but lots and lots of new misuses of "chance to", especially in regard to variants -- where I imagine the bulk of new text is occurring. I'll have another go. Netzhack (talk) 22:25, 26 October 2021 (UTC)

"due to the fact that" -> "because"

I just changed every instance of "due to the fact that" in this wiki to "because". I bet no one notices. Netzhack (talk) 15:15, 4 May 2018 (UTC)

And another one that was added in between then and now. Netzhack (talk) 23:07, 20 June 2022 (UTC)

"Despite this, ..."

There's nothing grammatically incorrect about the phrase "despite this" – although when I was learning English it was hardly used; in those days we preferred "nevertheless", "in spite of", "although", "however" – just about anything, in fact.

I've just gone through and eliminated all nine occurrences of "despite this" in the wiki. Some were replaceable by the alternatives indicated; others needed no replacement: they were already redundant alongside "still", or simply stuck in randomly as splices where none was needed. Again, I bet nobody notices. Netzhack (talk) 23:39, 28 June 2022 (UTC)

Because literally no one else cares, let alone enough to extensively document this kind of thing, when most people are prioritizing a lack of basic info elsewhere. Improve the structure of the info itself, that's all well and fine - but this feels a bit much. --Umbire the Phantom (talk) 00:02, 29 June 2022 (UTC)
"Because no one else cares" is why I'm the one doing it, I guess. Netzhack (talk) 09:45, 29 June 2022 (UTC)
Again, well and fine, but try not to make A Thing out of it if you can. --Umbire the Phantom (talk) 09:59, 29 June 2022 (UTC)
Thanks for your tolerance and advice. Netzhack (talk) 10:11, 29 June 2022 (UTC)

"just like" -> "just as"

I'm making this change where the subsequent element is anything but a noun. Present-day English grammar has done away with the distinction between "like" (for nouns) and "as" (for anything else), except in the formal register. However, there is no reason not to make this wiki formally correct: the traditional use of "as" is still understandable to everyone. I'm not being overly pedantic here: I'm leaving the oldest and most common misuses of "like", such as "This tastes just like chicken" and "it works just like an uncursed potion". Netzhack (talk) 23:34, 23 January 2019 (UTC)

fascinating. no one would ever, ever say "tastes as chicken" - it doesn't just sound odd, it sounds wrong! could go the whole 11 yards and say "tastes like unto the flesh of the chicken of Man". i s'pose at this point language has moved on, and it's no longer a "misuse". Testbutt (talk) 15:17, 16 December 2021 (UTC)
So, you want to imitate the English of the King James Bible? You will see that in that 17th-c. idiom, "like unto" is used only in an adjectival as opposed to adverbial sense -- with very rare borderline cases; your "tastes like unto" would not occur. "Hear my words, O ye wise men; and give ear unto me, ye that have knowledge. For the ear trieth words, as the mouth tasteth meat" (Job 34:2–3).—Netzhack (talk) 18:02, 16 December 2021 (UTC)

Terrain selections on des-file format page

Noticed you're also taking a look at this page. A persistent semi-erroneous holdover from 3.4.3 goes like:

place is either a coordinate, a RANDOM_PLACES place, or random

This is technically true, but incomplete: in fact what the level parser is using there is a ter_selection_x, which can be a single coordinate, a line, a bunch of different types of shapes, a floodfill from a point, a bunch of other types of things (see lev_comp.y for a full list), or any combination thereof. Experimenting with this a bit, it seems that it's valid to do weird things like

$mySelection = selection:line(02,02),(10,02)
SINK: $mySelection

and get a line of sinks. Do you have any ideas for the best way to convey this much more versatile way of specifying the location(s) for something on that page? --Phol ende wodan (talk) 22:32, 8 August 2018 (UTC)

Sorry -- I don't understand the new system. My editing has been merely semantic. I'm changing the wording to reflect the fact that (x,y) is not "a coordinate", but a coordinate pair, consisting of an x coordinate and a y coordinate. Netzhack (talk) 06:52, 10 August 2018 (UTC)
Decided to just bite the bullet and define every possible way one can declare a selection. Then at some point I'll go through the page and update the ones that use selections to say that. On the subject of coordinates, it's probably ok to leave "coordinate" or at least "coord", since that's what the level parser calls the data type. --Phol ende wodan (talk) 12:32, 10 August 2018 (UTC)
The level parser speaks (okay, reads) Levelparserish; this wiki is in English. Netzhack (talk) 13:34, 10 August 2018 (UTC)


You're here because you've noticed I'm editing out many (not all) instances of the word "respectively" in this wiki. Here's why: The word "respectively" asks the reader to do the writer's work, mentally forming one-to-one relations between the elements of one set and those of another, where the writer has been to lazy to do so by means of normal sentence syntax. Sometimes the job is easy enough; sometimes it is a difficult mental task; sometimes it has already been done by semantics or other means. Examples:


"Food A is lighter than B or C, which weigh 200 and 300 respectively."

Here, "respectively" saves us writing a new clause containing repetitions of "B" and "C".


"Garnets and rubies are deep red and ruby, respectively."

What excuse is there for not writing "Garnets are deep red and rubies are ruby-colored"?

Too hard:

"The Magic Mirror of Merlin and The Master Key of Thievery, the knight and rogue quest artifacts respectively, give you a rumor when applied or wielded." 

The reader has to parse a sequence of many nouns and figure out where the double-apposition started and ended. Easier to read: "The quest artifacts for the knight and rogue roles, the Magic Mirror of Merlin and the Master Key of Thievery, both give a rumor when applied or wielded." Without the "respectively", we don't tell the reader to mentally form a one-to-one relation, because it's irrelevant here.


"The plasteel helmet, boots, and gloves might be useful to Jedi as an upgrade on a dwarvish iron helm, iron shoes or high boots, and leather gloves, respectively."

This "respectively" is for readers with no semantic understanding of what they're reading. The nouns themselves create a one-to-one relation between the elements in the lists; there is zero danger of a reader misassociating them.

For more on the few uses and many abuses of "respectively", see Fowler's Modern English Usage. Netzhack (talk) 15:54, 10 April 2019 (UTC)

to -> too; hard -> touh; respectively is used instead of each wherefore the world hates English; no Oxford comma, no reason. Lysdexia (talk) 00:12, 27 April 2019 (UTC)
You worsend the diction here: Lysdexia (talk) 14:58, 16 May 2019 (UTC)

Also ... some authors seem to think "respectively" is cool, and should be used anywhere it can possibly be worked in. I differ. "Respectively" is a good tool to have in rare cases where elegant syntax doesn't get the job done. Elegant syntax: "Artifacts attack polymorphed players based on their polyself, not their base race. Thus an elven player could temporarily wield Grimtooth, or an orcish player Sting, by polymorphing into a more acceptable form." That sentence had a respectivly before I fixed it -- someone thought it was good to put "elven or orcish" and four words later "Grimtooth or Sting" just to work in a "respectively" after that construction. It's nicer without, though, isn't it? Admit it.

"as such"

"As such" doesn't mean "therefore" or "consequently" or "this being the case". The word "such" is a kind of pronoun; it needs an antecedent: it refers to something explicitly named earlier in the sentence, or perhaps in the preceding sentence. Thus "as such" means (if you absolutely must have a paraphrase for it) "as the thing just mentioned".


"Diluted potions are listed as such in your inventory."

Listed as what? As diluted potions.

"The soldier ant is a member of the legendary 'Team Ant' and as such is responsible for many early deaths."

It's responsible as what? As a member of Team Ant.

"Great Cthulhu is the second or third most dangerous creature in dNetHack and as such should be avoided rather than confronted."

He should be avoided as what? As one of the three most dangerous creatures.


"Puddings no longer drop corpses, and as such can no longer provide sacrifice material."

There's no antecedent for "such". Puddings no longer provide sacrifice material as what? As *something* that no longer drops corpses. Change to an expression such as "therefore" or "hence".

"Many new artifacts in many item classes have been added. As such, randomly generated artifacts may be much more common."

There's no antecedent for "such", no "thing just mentioned" – and no thing is intended anyway! Replace with something like "Consequently" or "For this reason".

"The purpose of praying is to ask your god for help, and as such it must not be done too often."

This makes no sense; there's no antecedent for "such". The phrase "as such" is being misused to mean "for that reason" or "this being the case".

--Netzhack (talk) 12:47, 10 May 2019 (UTC)

You must be brain-damaged. These usages are mostly not wrong. such may refer to the subject or predicate; as and for work in most cases. Lysdexia (talk) 18:32, 11 May 2019 (UTC)
Are you a neurologist, or are you just trying to sound like a jerk? I wouldn't normally bother anyone who misuses "as such"; my interest here is only in raising the standards and the prestige of Nethackwiki. You're welcome to google something like {English grammar "as such"} and read the results for yourself. Netzhack (talk) 12:42, 12 May 2019 (UTC)