A Conversation for Bacteriophages

Missing paragraph

Post 1

Salamander the Mugwump

Hi Pseudemys

I'm not sure where I should point this out so I'll put it here on the article you're editing and maybe pop over to your page to let you know this message is here. I'll also put a message on my cicada article.

You seem to be working on old versions of my articles - a version of the cicada article that was current about a month ago and a version of the bacteriophage article that's about a week or more old.

The following paragraph is missing from this version of the bacteriophage article:

"Another related use currently being researched is the testing of bacteria for drug resistance. In recent years tuberculosis or 'TB' has become resistant to a range of antibiotics that had previously worked so well against the disease, people had the mistaken impression that it was no longer a problem. It seemed to have been practically eliminated in the developed world. It used to be a major killer before the development of antibiotic treatments and the signs are that it will be again. However, some antibiotics still work against some strains of TB. Tests have to be carried out to discover which drugs will work in particular cases and this can be time consuming. Several phages that infect Mycobacterium tuberculosis, called mycobacteriophages have been modified to carry the firefly genes that code for the enzyme 'luciferase' - the stuff that makes a glow-worm glow. When these phages infect TB mycobacteria, their genetic material, including the firefly genes, integrate with the hosts' DNA and "programme" the bacteria to make the enzyme. This causes the bacteria to glow ever so slightly when a substance called luciferin is added. The glow can be observed using special equipment such as a luminometer, or it can be photographed. In order to glow, the bacteria must be alive so the potency of an antibiotic drug can be gauged fairly quickly by observing the emission of 'bioluminescence' from infected bacteria."

This should be the last paragraph under the heading "Medical uses".

Don't mean to be picky (sorry) but I'm not very happy with some of the edits. I'm wondering why some of the alterations to the text have been made at all because they don't seem either to clarify the meaning or improve the flow. The alterations I'm referring to, appear to be nothing more than differences of writing style and I thought we were supposed to write in our own style. For example, I wouldn't say that a virus was "lurking" on the very edge of what we think of as life. Someone else might, but they'd have a different writing style.

I do have a particular style of writing. I like to keep the language as simple as possible and I don't consciously use a long word where a short one will do or, for that matter, a word that is not in most people's active vocabulary when a commonly understood word is available. Also, I prefer short sentences to long ones. I think it's an easy style to read and understand. When I read my article now, I can see where it changes from my style to someone else's and then back again. I understand that it might be necessary to add to or alter articles in future, but I didn't imagine they would just be tweaked in ways that wouldn't add to the meaning or content.

Sorry to be a pain if there's some style rule I don't know about. If there is, perhaps you could tell me what it is so I can get it right first time when I do my next article. smiley - smiley

Thank you.

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Post 2


I'll just chip in my tuppence worth as well:-

I'm not too sure what is meant by "Codify instructions". Apart from the fact it should probably be "codifies" as it appears to be referring to "a strand of genetic material", DNA and RNA ARE the coded instructions.

The e coli superscript is unnecessary, it's more common to have the first explanation/use of an abbreviation in brackets beside its counterpart's first appearance, "Escherichia coli" is only two words after all. The use of a footnote conflicts with the style used for RNA and DNA in paragraph 2. Brackets would also save jumping down to an unnecessary footnote for non-IE users.

There's an unclosed bracket at the link to cells alive.

Just below this is a one sentence paragraph which could probably do with further explanation.

Footnote 5. If I remember right, you can see the smallpox virus under a light microscope.

Apart from those few points, it's a very interesting article and well worthy of inclusion.

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Post 3


Hey Sal,

I've had a look at the entry and have included the extra paragraph. Before I edit any further, what is the word you would like to replace lurk with?

Also could you answer/address the above comments so I can add them to the Entry too?

Thanks again smiley - smiley


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Post 4

Salamander the Mugwump

Hi Ashley

Nice to hear from you. Thank you for adding the missing paragraph. Sorry it's so complicated. I don't know why, but punctuation and things have been knocked out of the article. There are full stops missing and the odd closing bracket.

All the matters Wumbeevil addressed (except the size of the smallpox virus) are things that Pseudemys changed. I never mentioned anything about "codify instructions" - that's one of Pseudemys' edits. I don't know why he made "Escherichia coli" into a footnote. It was bracketed next to "e. coli" in the original. The unclosed bracket is also Pseudemys'. The sentence beginning "It seems that bacteriophages can be found ... " just above the heading "Medical uses", did have clarification until Pseudemys removed it.

I don't think the smallpox virus point is a problem. It may be a huge virus compared to other viruses and you may be able to just about see it under a light microscope but you wouldn't be able to see it well enough to study it in much detail. It will still be absolutely tiny in comparison with most bacteria. That was the main point.

If you need to check anything, the original is at http://www.h2g2.com/A460324 .

I suggest (if you're agreeable) that you make the following edits:

1) Replace the first paragraph under the heading "What are viruses?" with:

"Viruses are very odd life-forms. They are on the very edge of what we think of as life. A virus is just a protein capsule containing a strand of genetic material - DNA (Deoxyribonucleic Acid) or RNA (Ribonucleic Acid). So a virus is like a box containing a list of instructions to make more boxes containing lists of instructions to make more ... . The list of instructions cannot be followed however, until the virus is able to find an organism with the equipment to follow those instructions."

2) Last paragraph under the heading "What are viruses?":

Put "Escherichia coli" back into brackets next to e. coli and take out the footnote (footnote 2 in the edited version).

Replace the last sentence in that paragraph with "These viruses are called bacteriophages."

3) Heading "What are Bacteria?":

Change the "B" in Bacteria to lower case to be consistent with other headings.

4) Paragraph 2 under the heading "What are bacteria?":

Footnote 4 in the edited version, remove "that we eat" from the end of the sentence. We don't eat all proteins that plants make - some are deadly poison.

5) Last sentence of last paragraph under the heading "What are bacteria?": insert the word "could" between "bacteriophages" and "come".

6) Paragraph 1 under the heading "An infection on your infection":

Replace footnote 5 (edited version) with "Viruses are very much smaller than bacteria and whereas bacteria can be seen easily under an ordinary light microscope, an electron microscope is needed to study a virus."

Insert closing bracket after "Cellsalive".

7) Paragraph 2 under the heading "An infection on your infection":

Replace "it knows that it has arrived" with "its response is triggered".

8) Last paragraph under the heading "An infection on your infection". Replace with:
"It seems that bacteriophages can be found just about anywhere their hosts can be found. For example, if scientists look for them where cholera is endemic they will find the phages that are parasitic on cholera bacteria. Where the bacteria are found, there also are found the bacteria's phages."

9) Second and third bulleted paragraphs under the heading "Medical uses": Insert full stops at the end of the sentences.

10) Second paragraph following the bulleted paragraphs, under the heading "Medical uses":

Replace sentence starting "When this happens, a 'plaque' forms ..." with "When this happens, a 'plaque' forms. This is a circular formation that indicates an area of dead bacteria."

Sentence starting "Since bacteriophages cannot ..." - remove "Since", capitalize the "b" of bacteriophage, insert "so" before the word "if".

11) Last paragraph under the heading "Medical uses" (sorry this one's my error):

The double quotes round the word "programme" should be changed to single quotes.

12) Heading "The Dangers of Bacteriophage Therapy"

Change to "Potential dangers of bacteriophage therapy" (also changing the "D", "B" and "T" to lower case to be consistent with other headings).

That's the lot. Sorry! Thank you very very much. smiley - smiley


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Post 5


Thanks Sal - I'll get onto this shortly...

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Post 6


The majority of requested changes have been made!

Samsmiley - smiley

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Post 7


The majority of requested changes have been made!

Samsmiley - smiley

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Post 8


The majority of requested changes have been made!

Samsmiley - smiley

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Post 9


Sorry, it turns out that Sam isn't quite Y2K compatible...

I'll just check his circuits.

It's a grim job but some one has to do it.

Now, where did I leave those rubber gloves...

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Post 10


This entry will self-destruct in 10 seconds. Please leave your desks and evacuate the area. Immediately. PLEASE.. EVACUATE.. THE AREA. This entry will self-destr

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Post 11


Hello, just passing through. Looks like some bits fell off this one. Glad somebody could pick them up and glue them on again...
Sal, we work from a text file which is a snapshot of the entry on a particular day. Unfortunately, any changes that you make after that will not be reflected in the entry that we receive for subediting, which I guess must make it seem like we're degrading the article from the way you think it ought to be.
We do have some style criteria that we use (there's a page of them on h2g2 somewhere), and although on the whole I prefer to let people's own writing style shine through, occasionally I think that I need to make a change to a piece of text, either for clarity or to improve the scan, or whatever. It comes out about 30/70 after that; some people get upset and jump up and down (although not usually as politely as you), while most either don't mind or much prefer the changes over their own.
Still, as you've spotted, poking fingers in the forum is an excellent way of getting things changed. Keep it up, I love your articles.

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Post 12

Salamander the Mugwump

Doh! Too late! ...

I may now be addressing the recently departed. Is there anybody there?

Ah, there you are. Thank you very much Sam. That's great!

If something's worth saying, then it's worth saying more than once - it might even be worth saying three times. I don't consider that a stutter. smiley - smiley

Careful with those gloves Ashley smiley - winkeye


PS I've just tried to post this message to you and look at what popped up to greet me:

"Greetings unknown hiker:

We're sorry, but you can't post to a Conversation until you've registered with us as a Researcher. Click here to register - all it takes is an email address, and then you'll be able to share your wisdom with the rest of the h2g2 Community. Tell me More!

Alternatively, click here to return to the Conversation."

Never mind. I'll try again ...

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Post 13

Salamander the Mugwump

Hi Pseudemys

Glad I didn't annoy you too much. I got a little bit desperate when I couldn't get your attention. Thanks for your work and your indulgence - and for liking the articles. I'll try to be a better client in future. smiley - smiley


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