Here's a breakdown of what the h2g2 Sub-editors do.
It's worth noting at the outset that being a Sub-editor does not tie you down to any specific obligations - that would go against the whole nature of h2g2. We just hope that you like the site enough to help out in your spare time, and we don't mind how much or how little you do (though if you do nothing for ages we reserve the right to revoke the title - details can be found in the Sub-editors' Code of Conduct).
We will never force you to do anything, we'll just ask nicely. Everything you do must be because you want to help out with the development of h2g2. There may be added incentives in the future, but for now this is strictly a voluntary scheme. If you ever think we are expecting too much, let us know, and we'll slap ourselves on the wrists.
What being a Sub-Editor Entails
The main task of a Sub-editor is to take batches of entries that have been recommended by the Scouts, and sub-edit them according to the style of the Guide. The entry picking process is now handled by the Scouts (and if any Sub-editors want to be Scouts too, that's absolutely fine), but this doesn't prevent Sub-editors from contributing to Peer Review too (and indeed the final subbing process can often be much easier if most of the likely errors are picked up before the Scout makes their recommendations to the in-house team).
First, you should read the following pages thoroughly. They contain the distilled wisdom from running this scheme over the months, and will answer most of your questions before you've even asked them. At least, that's the idea...
- Writing for the Edited Guide
- English Usage in the Edited Guide
- Using Approved GuideML in the Edited Guide
It always takes a little time to learn the ropes of subbing, and we hope that we can help with that. Any questions, just ask!
How the Subbing Process Works
Here's a summary of what the Sub-editors do, and how they do it.
We will email you the A-numbers of the entries that we'd like you to edit in your next batch. Normally a batch consists of between two and four entries, but if you want a different number then just let us know. Some Subs prefer big batches, some prefer small batches, but both are fine by us, as long as they get edited at the rate of at least one per week.
When you get time, go on site and and edit each entry on the list, following the guidelines in the next section. You will have been set to the Editor for those entries, so you will be able to edit them by clicking on the 'edit' link on your Personal Space, or by going to the entries and using the 'Edit Entry' button. (Note that these entries are copies of the original entries, so you won't be changing the author's original versions.)
When you have subbed an entry to perfection, and the results are there on site, then you should click the 'Return to Editors' button in the Entry Data box and when you click on 'Submit' the entry will automatically head off to the Editors for a final check and publication on the Front Page.
When you've processed all the entries in your batch and you're ready for more, let us know on the Subs' mailing list that you'd like another batch, and we'll send you one. It's that easy!
As well as editing entries that have come through the Peer Review system, you may also be asked to sub entries written by Field Researchers at the h2g2 University. You'll be approached to do this directly by the Field Researchers themselves (and it's up to you whether you get involved or not), so once you become a Sub, it might be worth going over to the University and offering your services.
What to Look for when Subbing Entries
Here's a breakdown of the subbing process, which you should apply to each entry you receive. Most of these points should be addressed in the Peer Review system, but it's quite possible that entries will filter through which are well worth including in the Edited Guide, but which have aspects that need fixing.
It is important to check whether there is an existing Edited Entry on the same subject as the entry you are editing, and if there are any other entries that are better or worth combining with the entry you are subbing. This job is currently done by the Scouts, but it's good to double check. If there is an existing Edited Entry and the new one is better, try to combine them.
If you get one of your own entries to edit, send it back and we'll give it to someone else.
If you think that any of the entries you've been allocated might have been copied from another source, please let the Editors know privately (via email or via the Sub-editors' Mailing List). It's not a good idea to confront the author in public, as this can sometimes lead to embarrassment for the author, who may simply not have understood copyright law.
Look out for repetition within the entry. Researchers don't need to make the same point more than once.
We like people who can put in the work to find links to other Edited Guide Entries. It makes the page so much more fun.
Correct spelling and grammar, mark up the page in correct GuideML, check facts (with the author if necessary), prune out any parts that are unsuitable, and add any gems of your own.
Read the entry closely. Try to clarify any points that don't make sense. If an entry doesn't define what it is talking about, it's no good - imagine reading the entry if you know absolutely nothing about the topic, and see if you can understand it. It's important, too, not to assume that people know what you mean - just because a product is a household name in one country doesn't mean it is everywhere else.
When putting a load of entries together on a specific topic, or if you've updated an Edited Entry with additions from new Researchers, let us know the following details. If you forget to provide these details we'll ask you for them, and it's much easier if you note them down on the fly, rather than having to hunt around for them.
Details of the contribution used - A123456 number for entries, or just the fact that it's from a Conversation Posting if that's the case.
The status of the entry (ie recommended, normal entry, Conversation Posting).
The user number (we don't need to know the name).
It's recommended that you contact the Researcher of the entry to check any queries with them and give them a final chance to look over the piece. The entry is their 'baby' after all. It's also worth remembering that you can unintentionally add incorrect facts, which could be addressed if the Researcher is contacted before the entry goes up on the front page. However, we are completely aware that Subs often either receive no reply or one very much later, and it holds things up, which is difficult when there's a deadline on entries to be sent back within a month. But then at least you can say, 'Well, I did ask'...
Some Useful Internal Links
Here are some thoughts on the scheme from members of the Community:
Some Useful External Links
- The Elements of Style
- The Curmudgeon's Stylebook
- Cognitive Science Laboratory Thesaurus
- Merriam-Webster Dictionary
- Altavista's Babel Fish