The Edited Guide

2 Conversations

What is the Edited Guide? |
Reading the Edited Guide |
Reviewing for the Edited Guide |
Writing the Edited Guide |
Updating the Edited Guide |
Volunteering for the Edited Guide |
Edited, but not Everything |
A Word to the Wise |

Every entry created here on h2g2 is part of the Guide as outlined in Douglas Adams' vision for h2g2, but some entries are also part of the Edited Guide (EG). What is this Edited Guide? It is:

  • Inspired by 'The Book' in 'The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy', but by the longer interesting bits, not the short (but funny) one-liners.
  • Made up of thousands of articles called Edited Guide entries - each of which has been written, reviewed, and selected by people here on h2g2.

  • About more topics than most of us can imagine, from entries about your local pub to entries about science and history. We have entries about how to do things, how things work, and how to get places -- we even have an entry about all your favorite superheroes.
  • Like an encyclopaedia in some ways - the articles are true, accurate, and based in the real world.
  • A lot more interesting and fun to read than an encyclopaedia - by and large, the Edited Guide focuses on explaining the interesting bits, rather than going into every last detail.
  • The central purpose that drives how the site is run.

Reading the Edited Guide

People read the Edited Guide in all sorts of ways, for all sorts of reasons. For many of us, the Front Page of h2g2 was our first exposure to the Edited Guide - every weekday, a number of new articles are highlighted on the Front Page as they make their debut into the Edited Guide. If you miss a day, you can always check the archives to see what's been on the Front Page lately. Of course, there's a lot more to the Edited Guide than just what you see on the front page, and you can:

  • Browse through the category system, seeing - for example - a list of all the Edited Guide entries about Germany or transportation.
  • Search for Edited Guide entries about your favorite topic - if you use advanced search, you can specify whether you're only interested in Edited Guide entries at the moment.
  • Follow the links from other Edited Guide entries - most will have links to a number of different and interesting Edited Guide entries, just click on the links!
  • Check out the h2g2 Calendar to see which entries are about something that happened on this date in history - or even on the day you were born!
  • If you're feeling lucky or adventurous (or even just bored), click on the Infinite Improbability Drive button on the Front Page, which will take you to a random entry of the thousands in the Edited Guide.

Reviewing for the Edited Guide

Maybe you really enjoy reading the Edited Guide, and want to help it along, or maybe you want to help make it better - either way, there's room for you as a reviewer in Peer Review.

Peer Review is where people submit entries that they think would be a good addition to the Edited Guide. Our job as a community is to review these entries - to give suggestions about how to improve them, and to give our opinions about whether they're ready to join the Edited Guide.

Everyone can be a reviewer in Peer Review! If you're unsure how to start, here are some suggestions:

  • What do you like best about the entry? It's great for authors to get to hear what really works, not just where the problems are!
  • Are there pieces of the entry that you don't understand? Let the author know!
  • Can you think of additional pieces of information that would help make the entry more complete? Share your knowledge!
  • Do you see any errors in the entry? Help make the entry as polished as possible before it hits the Front Page!
  • If you're still stuck for ideas, try taking a look at what other researchers have said in the thread.

Writing the Edited Guide

Researching and writing entries for h2g2 is the reason why we're known as Researchers (with a capital 'R'), and as soon as you create an entry it becomes part of the overall Guide that is h2g2. The Edited Guide, on the other hand, is a section of h2g2 which contains its best factual writing and is considered to be an encyclopaedia of sorts.

If you're interested in writing an entry for the Edited Guide, the first thing to take a look at is the Writing Guidelines - these will help you understand what h2g2 is looking for in an Edited Guide entry. We're not going to repeat the entire list of Writing Guidelines here, but there are two that are really worth emphasizing here:

  • Write about reality
  • Don't try too hard to be funny

Because Edited Guide entries must follow these guidelines, not every single entry that you write will be suitable. Examples of entries not generally suited for the Edited Guide would be pieces that are unfinished, fiction or poetry, and personal theories or opinions. And of course, all entries (Edited or not) must follow the House Rules - which means, for example, no advertising or material written by someone else.

Another important step here is to check and see if there are already any Edited Guide entries on the same topic - if there are, you might consider updating the existing entry. Alternatively, you could try writing in more depth about a specific area - for example, if there was already an entry on bears, you could write an entry about polar bears.

Once you've written your entry, made it the best you can, and checked over the Writing Guidelines1, it's time to submit your entry to Peer Review. While your entry is in Peer Review, people will leave comments for you about how to improve the entry - you don't need to agree with or use every suggestion people make, but it is important to keep an open mind, and to explain why you disagree rather than simply ignoring comments.

If you've done a good job responding to and incorporating the comments in your Peer Review thread, and your entry meets the Writing Guidelines, there's a good chance your entry will be picked by one of the Scouts2 for inclusion in the Edited Guide. For more information on what happens after an entry is picked, check here.

If the process seems a little overwhelming or you have questions, stop by at Hitchhike Your Way Into the Edited Guide - we have people there with all sorts of answers, as well as people interested in mentoring new Edited Guide writers.

Updating the Edited Guide

Sometimes you'll read an Edited Guide entry here on h2g2, and think to yourself:

Wait, there's a mistake here!

This is all true, but there's more to the story than this!

Maybe this was all correct back when the entry was written, but it's out of date now!

Whatever the issue may be, there are ways to fix the problems you may see with entries that are already in the Edited Guide. How to go about fixing the problem generally depends on how big of a problem it is, and how much fixing is needed.

  • Sometimes, all that really needs to be done is to post a message at the bottom of the entry, alerting both the authors and the readers of the issue. The next time someone decides to update the entry, they will go through the postings at the bottom and take them into account when making changes.

  • If the problem is a minor detail - an incorrect fact, a broken link, a sentence or three that needs adding or subtracting - the place to handle the problem is Editorial Feedback. Post a note there, explaining what changes you think need to be to which entry, and why you think the changes are needed, and the staff editors will take care of it if they agree with your suggestion. The more explicit you can be here, the better - don't just say 'The entry should mention that he's dead now,' but provide a sentence they can use, such as 'Unfortunately for the music lovers of the world, Jimi Hendrix died in September of 1970.'

  • Sometimes, a more substantial change is needed - maybe you think there's another side to the story that needs to be better presented, or more detailed or up-to-date information should be added. When you reach the point of wanting to edit, add, or delete more than just a few sentences, the place to go is the Update Forum. For this, you'll let the original authors know that you're updating their entry, make your own copy of the entry and add any changes you think necessary, and submit your updated copy of the entry to the Update Forum. The process then will be similar to having an entry in Peer Review - people will suggest changes and improvements - and the entry will be officially updated when there is a consensus that it is ready to go.

Of course, one of the best ways to prevent errors from popping up in EG entries is to stay active in Peer Review, and point these things out before they reach the Front Page and the Edited Guide!

Volunteering for the Edited Guide

There are several groups of Volunteers at h2g2, but the two groups that have the most to do with the Edited Guide are the Scouts and the Sub-editors.

  • Scouts are volunteers who spend their time in Peer Review - not only do they make helpful comments in Peer Review like the rest of us, they are also charged with helping to keep Peer Review tidy, by keeping reign over when entries need to be moved out of Peer Review. The most important role of the Scouts, though, is that they pick a set number of entries each month from Peer Review that are ready to go into the Edited Guide. If you want to volunteer to be a Scout, and have spent some time getting to know how Peer Review works and making helpful comments, take a look at the instructions here.

  • Sub-editors are volunteers who help give entries that have been picked some final spit and polish before they make their debut on the Front Page. They will clean up the odd spelling and grammar errors that weren't caught during Peer Review, and make sure that the style and formatting is in line with the guidelines for the Edited Guide. If you want to be a Sub-Editor, having some experience writing entries for the Edited Guide yourself would be helpful, but not necessary - if you're ready to apply, see the instructions here.

Edited, but not Everything

The Edited Guide is an important part of h2g2, but it's not all there is -- we have quite a few other places to find some great writing. If you're looking for places to read or write, you might think about checking out these:

  • The UnderGuide - a place for interesting entries that are sometimes on a different tack from the Edited Guide. You can find stories, personal experiences, opinions, and poetry - they've all been picked by volunteers from the Alternative Writing Workshop, and a new one is featured on the Front Page each week.
  • The Post - h2g2 has its own weekly newspaper, with all sorts of creative contributions, including weekly columns, cartoons, reviews, poetry, and competitions.
  • The AGG/GAG/CAC - if you're looking for a piece of wit or wisdom, these entries that are featured periodically in The Post might be what you're looking for.
  • The unedited Guide - every entry anyone writes here on h2g2 is part of the Guide, and can be read by everyone else.

A Word to the Wise....

Many of you will have heard the old adage 'Walk before you try to fly', and this is definitely true when it comes to the Edited Guide. You'll have much better success as a reviewer or writer for the Edited Guide if you've spent some time reading Edited Guide entries first - and you'll most certainly have a better shot at becoming a Scout if you've spent some time being a helpful reviewer in Peer Review.

1If you're wondering why we keep bringing up these Writing Guidelines over and over again, it's because they really are tremendously important - any new writer for the Edited Guide needs to become familiar with them.2The Scouts are a volunteer group here on h2g2 - more on them further along in the entry.

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