|Subject: Busy in here tonight|
Posted Sep 14, 2011 by Icy North
I'm sure you've picked up that the site is leaving the BBC shortly (within days, probably). I know you've invested a lot of your time and effort into things like peer review and error-checking the edited guide, and it's very much appreciated. Has anybody asked you what you would like to see under the new owners?
I've volunteered as one of the site editors going forward, and I'd be very interested to hear your opinions. Happy to discuss here, or you can e-mail me at icy (underscore) north (at) hotmail (dot) com
Look forward to hearing from you
I'm very pleased to know that you have been nominated to be one of the Site Editors.
Thanks for asking for my opinions.
I haven't been asked directly, although I could have commented on any one of a number of 'gnuhootoo' threads. The trouble is that to do so would reveal, even after all this time, my ignorance about many h2g2 procedures.
Apart from that, most of my concerns have been eloquently voiced by other (better qualified) Researchers.
There are a couple of points concerning Edited Guide Entries that may already have been expressed - I confess not to have religiously followed all the relevant threads :
1. It seems misleading to me that when changes (not necessarily major updates) are made to entries, there is no 'last updated on xxxx' to show that the information is often far more current than the original entry date might suggest.
2. I don't always read the conversations attached to EGEs but, when I do, I often find that Researchers have left notes there regarding typos, incorrect or outdated information, general queries, etc, which are often ignored by the author. This suggests to me that authors are not prompted to action automatically by such comments about 'their' work. In other words, they are blissfully unaware because they are no longer 'tied' to their entries.
By the way, I rarely comment on PR threads these days, because the kind of 'polishing' I do is often unwelcome (and possibly inappropriate) at that stage. Plus, authors can be nasty or don't make simple corrections straight away, so that I have to check and recheck constantly.
To my mind, authors should be responsible, as far as possible, to keep their entries up to date - and at the very least, should remain permanently 'attached' to their entries so that they will be notified of any related occurrence.
Should anything else come to mind - perhaps when I am fully awake - I'll let you know.
Ps I'll be offline for about a week from Friday 16th September.
I can see we're singing from the same hymnsheet.
Mobilising authors to take more responsibility for the life of their entry is an interesting one. From the technical side, I believe we should automatically subscribe them to the edited entry when it goes live, so at least they see the messages that are left. Many established authors do this anyway, but it requires them not to forget. Other options (which would require new technology) would be to e-mail the authors when people post messages.
Collaborative entries could be a problem - would you e-mail every author? Some entries have many.
In addition, should sub-editor volunteers be/remain subscribed?
The bigger issue, though, is the community. Due to years of progressive cutbacks, the size of the h2g2 community has shrunk worryingly, and I should think a high proportion of edited entries have authors who simply aren't around any more. We are always going to rely on the community to help us update them, but monitoring the posted comments is a first step. I suppose we could try to get some sort of volunteer force going to sweep them (I think curators may already do this informally).
As to A "Last updated" date, yes, this would be an improvement. A few do have it appended to the text manually, but an automated date would look a lot better.
"Collaborative entries could be a problem - would you e-mail every author? Some entries have many."
Trying to find the information I want on collaborative entries via Help Pages and FAQs has (so far) proved fruitless - you might be able to point me in the right direction.
I would have thought that one of the contributors would be given a co-ordinating role, and that that person, at the very least, should remain 'attached' to the Entry and bear some responsibility for keeping the information up to date.
Perhaps there should be a stipulation that, after a given period of time, failure by the 'co-ordinating author' to respond to 'update prompting' would permit the editing team to authorise more substantial alterations to entries than are currently permitted.
It should be considered an honour to have one's work in the Guide - a source of pride, but one that should carry certain *stipulated* responsibilities. Why should the Guide continue to suffer through authors' lack of interest (or absence)?
Case in point:
If you don't mind a bit of a trek ( http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=y1Nd1qtk1Go - No, not that one ), then follow me through to a particularly disappointing example:
From this week's front page, under 'Recently Updated':
Entry ID: A943184 (Edited) 'A History of 'The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy'
Heading: The Website
Quote: "Examples of existing topics are: 'Etiquette for Chess Spectators' [18/9/2003], 'Evil from a Western Perspective' [23/9/1999], 'Alaskan Fish Plants' [24/1/2000] and 'How Soap Works' [3/4/2000].
'Etiquette for Chess Spectators', The most recent, contains some 30 typos/typitos and a number of awkwardly phrased or redundant sentences.
If you go to the top conversation, below the Entry, 'Typo', you'll see that some of the errors were reported, only a few of which were fixed. The other three examples aren't so bad, but are far from irreplaceable.
Ben selected Entries (and entries ) drawn from a fair number (I imagine) of recommendations made by Researchers. Don't you agree that links, especially those given specifically as examples, from Entries like 'A History of 'The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy' should direct the reader to better fare?
"Ben selected Entries (and entries )..."
The ones featured in 'The Anthology'.
Thanks RE - I'll discuss this with the other Guide Editors before I reply.
And thank you for that video. I saw it a couple of years ago but lost the link and forgot what it was called
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