Here's a breakdown of what the h2g2 Scouts do.
In terms of obligations, being a Scout does not tie you down to anything specific. We hope you like the site enough to help out in your spare time, and we don't mind how much or how little you do. Of course, we still reserve the right to revoke the title if you miss your allotted time period for recommending entries (see the Scouts' Code of Conduct).
What Being a Scout Entails
If you're interested in becoming a Scout, you should already be familiar with h2g2's Peer Review system. Researchers submit their Entries for the Approved Guide, comments are made by interested readers, and once an Entry is ready to be Edited it is recommended by a Scout. The h2g2 staff consider each recommendation and send those they approve to the Sub-editors for editing. Thus Scouts play a central role in choosing those Entries which eventually become part of the Approved Guide.
It always takes a little time to learn what makes a good Edited Entry, and how to give criticism without sounding harsh, and we hope that we can help with that. Here's a summary of how to be a Scout.
Managing Peer Review
Here are some guidelines for Scouts with regards to managing Peer Review:
Anyone can submit entries to Peer Review, but it is the responsibility of the Scouts to monitor the forum. Any registered Researcher may comment on the entries in Peer Review.
It is vital to know the Writing Guidelines, as all the entries in Peer Review should follow them.
If you think an entry is good, say so in the Review Conversation. If an entry is lacking something, though, please don't say 'this entry is rubbish'. This is very disheartening to the author, especially when said in public. Instead, be positive in your criticism: suggest ways in which the entry can be improved, or point to similar entries in the Guide (if there are any) that already do a better job. It's really important that Scouts are always polite and positive; Scouts who are overly critical will harm the process by scaring people off.
If you think an entry is more suited to a different Review Forum, you should try to persuade the author to remove it from Peer Review and re-submit it to another Review Forum. Only in cases where the author refuses should you ask the Editors to get involved - it is much better if Peer Review is managed by those who are using it.
If you think an entry is difficult to approach because it's one long block of text, encourage them to break it up into paragraphs with spaces in between, thus creating simple paragraphs and headers.
Rather than push new users to struggle with GuideML and produce something that doesn't comply with the Approved GuideML guidelines, it is best to let them write their first piece in plain text and encourage them to learn the code later. We are much more interested in having interesting writing than competent GuideML users. Meanwhile, established users of the site should be encouraged to use well-formatted GuideML and will probably be well able to do so.
It's advisable not to make any promises to Researchers that you will definitely get their entry into the Guide. There is a possibility that another Scout or one of the in-house Editors will think it needs more work.
Keep track of What's new in Peer Review.
Recommending Entries from Peer Review
We ask that you make a recommended quota of Entries per month. A new Scout's forum has been set up in Trello for discussion and information. Please take the time to check there regularly for up to date news. You will be given a recurring calendar date per month, when you should make your choices. This spreads out the quantity of Entries being recommended throughout the month, rather than being clumped together. It makes managing the system a lot easier for the Sub-editors to manage their workload.
Please try to make your choices within five days of your allocated date. If there are no suitable Entries ready for recommendation, please let the Guide Editors know, so that they are aware of this issue.
You will not be sent a reminder to make your choices, but so that we can keep track, we ask you to fill in a record of your last made Recommendation. Details will be emailed to you to enable you to do this.
You can recommend any entry from Peer Review that:
- Has been in Peer Review for at least a week
- Has had a good response from the Community
- Isn't still being worked on by the author
- Hasn't been written by you
- Is suitable for the Edited Guide (see the Writing Guidelines)
- Hasn't been copied from another source – run a key phrase between " marks through a search engine such as Google to check this.
Let the Editors know about Entries that you think may be copied from other sources, but please do this privately (via email or the Trello Scout's forum). 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. In emergencies, you may contact the moderators via the yikes button.
If the Entry seems quite long - anything over 2,000 words or so - the Editors may choose to split it up into two or more smaller ones so that it can pass through the subbing process more easily. If you see a particularly long Entry, it's a good idea to pop a note in the Review Conversation to warn the author that this might happen, and that they might like to indicate how the Entry should ideally be split up if it needs to be. Or even suggest to the author that they do this themselves. Reviewers are often put off reading very long Entries and will (apparently) ignore them
The Recommendation Process
The recommendation process is as follows.
Before the end of the five days following your Recommendation date, decide which three Entries you want to recommend from Peer Review.
Before you do anything else, check the The Scout Recommendations Page to see if your chosen entries have already been recommended by fellow Scouts.
Check that the entry is up to standard and read the Review Conversation to make sure everyone is happy that the entry is ready.
Click on the 'Recommend' button. Type a few words in the box that pops up: say why you like this entry. This part is really helpful! When you're done, click on the 'Recommend' button in the box; the system will tell the Editors that you've made your recommendation. Once you've met your quota, you can relax and wait for our response.
Follow any instructions on the Trello board to set up automatic notifications regarding your selection, and tick a box on a spreadsheet to confirm that you've made a selection for the current month.
For each recommendation, we will send you a notification via Trello, to confirm or override your decision. If we override one of your decisions - and please don't feel bad if we do, as it's a hard thing to get the hang of - then all you need do is recommend a replacement entry in exactly the same way. If we agree with your decision, it's polite to pop into the Review Conversation to congratulate the author.
If an entry is accepted, it is listed on the Coming Up page and the Editorial Team will email the author to tell them that their entry has been recommended. For details of what happens next, see What Happens after your Entry has been Recommended?
And that's the Scouts' main role on h2g2: they control what goes into the Edited Guide and provide front-line feedback on Researchers' entries. It's a vital part of h2g2, and one that we hope is interesting and rewarding.
Cleaning Peer Review
The Scouts also keep the Editorial Team informed of entries in Peer Review that should be moved, either out of the review system ('back to entry') or to a different forum. Here's the process for recommending that they be moved:
First, post to the relevant Review Conversation explaining why you think this entry should move, and asking for other opinions. You might also like to post to the Scouts' Trello forum asking for other Scouts to comment.
If the consensus is to move the entry to another Review Forum, it's polite to ask the author to move the entry themselves (by removing the entry from Peer Review and resubmitting it to another Review Forum).
However, if the author appears to have left1 and hasn't posted for two months, post to the Peer Review thread asking the Editors for the relevant move, and we'll move the Conversation.
In the case of single-lined entries that appear to have been submitted by 'one-stop' Researchers, who made one post and then disappear off into the Internet, these can be removed after one week. However, a friendly posting should be made in the Review forum where their entry appears, pointing out the shortcomings of the entry. Do remember that it can sometimes take a long time to get the hang of some of the activities on h2g2 and PR is an environment where people are learning. If, however, they don't respond within a week, let them know that the entry will be taken out of Peer Review, and contact the Editors in the manner detailed above.
Some Common Questions
Are there any other guides to Scouting on h2g2?
Yes indeed – see A Brief Guide to Scouting.
When do I make my recommendation?
Make sure you make your recommendations in the five days after the deadline date in the Scout's calendar.
What do I do if I can't manage to make a recommendation by my due date?
If possible, make your recommendations early, but in any case let us know that you're having problems – if you can't make your picks at all, other Scouts can take up the slack. The Edited Guide relies on a steady flow of recommendations that feed into the Sub-editing process, which in turn keep the Front Page supplied with new entries. Thus, if your circumstances change and you think you won't be able to make your recommendations each month, do feel free to let us know that you'd like to take a break or give up Scouting. In either case we'll find someone to replace you, but you'll always be welcome to re-join the Scouts' scheme in the future.