All entries in a dictionary are crowdsourced, and they have been for centuries. The words we use rise and fall on popular whim; dictionaries listen to what the crowd is saying and alter definitions and spellings and add or subtract words accordingly.
Collins English Dictionary is speeding up the process with its #twictionary campaign. Twitter users have until May 28 to vote on which of several words they would like to see included in the next edition of the UK-based dictionary.
A social-media driven crowdsourcing campaign with a promise to include something in the next edition of your reference book seems on the surface to be a rather bad idea. The crowd is naturally mischievous or self-promoting. Witness geocache being named to the next edition of the Official Scrabble Players Dictionary despite that combination of letters being almost entirely unsuitable to game of Scrabble. Hasbro and Merriam-Webster saw the often-played, often-challenged zen outvoted by the geocaching crowd.
But the #twictionary folks are avoiding possible disaster by self-selecting the words we can vote on. There are no write-ins allowed. Interest-group manipulation is always possible (the National Farmers Union of England and Wales did tweet a vote for felfie, a seflie by a farmer), but active campaigns have yet to surface.
The words (listed alphabetically and not by personal preference) are: adorkable, felfie, fatberg, nomakeupselfie, duckface, gaybourhood, Euromaidan, vaguebooking and fractivist. The Collins twictionary page lists the words with brief definitions and handy links for tweeting the word that gets your vote.
The campaign is an artificial process that celebrates the words we like rather than noting which words we use. Many of these words are simply silly combinations without much hope of lasting, whether they are in a printed dictionary or not. But they’re all words that are being used at the moment, and including them in a dictionary published this year makes that dictionary more useful. And more fun.