View From the Queue

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This week's View goes over the method and madness behind the What's Coming Up page, the average wait before an entry is edited and featured, and a brief mention of site changes at h2g2.

This Week's View

There are 241 entries remaining in the old Queue, compared to 257 a week ago. That's a reduction of 16 entries last week, which is exactly the same as my average for the previous two weeks.

There are 431 entries currently waiting at the Peer Review page, which is 6 less than last week. When we add this to the entries in the old Queue, we get a total of 672 entries total waiting to be Edited. That's an auspicious overall reduction of 22 entries in one week.

The What's Coming Up page has 16 entries on it as I write my column, compared to 14 at the same time last week. But I popped in halfway through the week, and noticed there were 33 entries on the page. This indicates a high rate of turnover.

A high rate of turnover on the What's Coming Up page is a sign that entries going through the Peer Review system are being edited at a fast pace. The faster the entries are edited, the less time our authors have to wait from the day they hear their entry has been recommended by a Scout until the day the entry is featured on h2g2's main page. So overall, high turnover is a good thing.

The down side to the high turnover rate is that if lots of changes are taking place to the page daily and no numbers are being generated automatically to describe what is going on, there's not much chance that my weekly report will keep good track of h2g2's progress. I may have to consider wrapping up the View From the Queue column after the old Queue is gone.

What's Coming Up, and What It Isn't

There is some confusion about the role the What's Coming Up page plays. h2g2's main page says it is a list of 'things we are currently putting finishing touches to.' But this isn't entirely accurate.

Perhaps the front page should say that the page lists 'things we are about to put finishing touches to.' Because what really happens is that the entries are removed from What's Coming Up after a Sub-Editor takes the entry on. So you can't actually see the finishing touches being applied, because you only see the entry on the page *before* any finishing touches are added.

The end result is that interested parties can't really visit the What's Coming Up page to critique the Sub-Editors final (or mostly final) version of the entry. I admit this disappointed me a little, since this was once feature I looked forward to when I first learned about Peer Review.

The author can still see the Sub-Editor's version of their entry by looking at their personal space. The new version will be in their Most Recently Created Guide Entries section, with the word 'pending' beneath it. This remains unchanged from the old editing system.

How Long Does It Take

Well, last week I decided I wanted to see whether the Peer Review system was already moving faster than the old Editing system. But when I went to look further into it, I couldn't figure out which entries featured in the last two weeks came from Peer Review and which came from the old Queue.

This happened to me partly because I wasn't keeping track of what appeared on the What's Coming Up page when it first opened up, because I was on a nice lengthy vacation. I also couldn't find any nifty way to go back and check in retrospect. Everything from the entry's mention on What's Coming Up to its thread in the Peer Review page disappears as part of the standard processes.

But I did take a look at 20 entries featured last week and the week before. When I looked at the date of creation for the entries being featured lately, I found that the average was that the entries were created in the last week of July. This was also the week I most frequently saw, and there were only a few derivations of any great size.

So while I don't know whether Peer Review or the old Queue is faster, I do know that it is taking roughly 11 weeks for entries to navigate through the Editing process right now. This is only slightly different from the roughly 10-week average I reported when I first wrote this column on July 24th of this year. Once again, the more things change, the more they stay the same.

Upcoming Site Changes at h2g2

In my last column, I talked about the numerous discussions on site policy suddenly going on over at the Community Soapbox page. Last week, I couldn't help noticing Mark Moxon's mention in one post that h2g2 will see another site update soon.

Based on Mark's comments, it sounds like we should be expecting a number of items on our collective wish list to be fulfilled sometime during the second week of November. It doesn't sound like we are looking at a whole new appearance (or skin) for the site, but rather some improvements for the Alabaster skin we already have.

Next Week's View

Next week, I'll try again to see whether I can compare the wait time for Peer Review with the wait time for the old Queue. Perhaps now that I am watching the What's Coming Up page more closely, I will have a better luck.

Fragilis the Melodical

Click here to see previous weeks' Views from the Queue.

Opinions expressed in this column are my own, and do not necessarily reflect the opinions of h2g2 or the Post.

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