A Conversation for Alt Writing-Guidelines


Post 1

Martin Harper

I like it... comments follow:

for 2/3 and 7/8, I'd suggest the following form:

2. "Be original."
3. "Fill in the gaps."
Reply: "What has been will be again, what has been done will be done again; there is nothing new under the sun." Ecclesiastes 1:9 (NIV)

That obviates the need for dull 'see above' replies, which I think would help.

13. "Write in the third person."

Write in the third person. Or the first person. Or the second person passive subjunctive. You could even try writing in the First Person Omniscient, which is normally reserved for Another.

I feel that some of the rules are a little anti-whoever wrote the original guidelines: #13, 11, perhaps.

Oh, you could do a similar thing for some of the <./>subeditors-style</.> guidelines:

* Use British English spelling rather than American English.
Don't give in to conformity! smiley - smiley


Post 2

~ jwf ~ scribblo ergo sum

Bravo Mister =X smiley - ok

You may have lost a night's sleep but you've begun (and almost completed) a comprehensive and satisfying guide for Alt Writing which will have a permanent link from our homepage and from each issue after it is featured as the center-piece of of upcoming AggGag column.
smiley - cheers
But, get some sleep, take another look at it and digest some of Lucinda's suggestions. This is a big chunk you've bitten off, trying to 'emulate' the original Guidelines, which obviously were not written in a day.
I agree with Lucinda that it needs to be 'tempered' slightly, (not quite so 'anti' in an 'in yer face' way in a couple of places). And the format using the word Reply could be altered slightly for space and for ..what ..something more like "The Guidelines say:" and "AGG/GAG/CAC says:" although not that excatly...
Let's see what the others say.
Sleep on it. It's great. It really is. Nice work! Let's perfect it.
Oh, and the Robin Hoodish image is more you than me, m'dear. I don't wear tights. smiley - nahnah I'm more the body shape of a Triar Fruuck.
Great job.
More later.


Post 3


Good call. I tried to think of something better than "see above," but your way will work much better. I'll try to eliminate the hostility from #11 & 13.

I was unaware of the subeditors-style guidelines. It might be worth looking in to.

What if we added a few examples under each point to show famous writings that have broken each of these rules? (Except #12 plagiarism.) Again, the point would not be to claim that the Edited Guide should change its scope, but to remind people that most of those guidelines should not be confused with rules for great writing.


Post 4

Martin Harper

I've always wondered where you'd pick up green tights. They don't seem to sell them in the supermarket...
smiley - shrug


Post 5


Is #11 too hostile? I added some more to it. See if it works any better now. Didn't mean to put down the author of those guidelines for using a sentence fragment. The author deserves praise for using a sentence fragment to catch the reader's attention, which was more important than technically accurate English at that moment. It's just ironic to use a sentence fragment to tell people that they should use proper spelling and grammar.

Anyhow, see if my hostility needs further restraining. Other bits I changed were the second paragraph at the top (trying to restrain some hostility there), plus the footnote, implemented Lu's suggestions for 2/3, 7/8 and #13, plus little tinkering all throughout. Oh hell, y'all will just have to read the whole thing again.


Post 6

~ jwf ~ scribblo ergo sum

Your grade eleven English teacher failed to credit the original source of the slightly misquoted 'up with which we will not put'.
It was either Churchill or George Bernard Shaw or ...someone else.
Hopefully one of our UK friends will remind us.

At the risk of maddening you, and knowing I can't articulate my concern very well, I now get a sense of 'contrition', as if you hated having to edit your true feelings and to pull your punches. Some of the free-wheeling good-feeling of being pumped and taking on the system lords has been dampened by our criticism - and perhaps in several places the cuts have gone too deep.
I think for consistency of the visual/logical kind, there should be at least a word or two on every section including 2 and 7. Even if 2 only said 'As if. See 12'. And 7 - I wish I had the original to look at - was only a bit too snarky but the point was valid, it was more a question of just a pinch too much 'attitude'. And the opening should be in three paragraphs, the third starting at 'Each of ..'
And in the first paragraph there is a sentence of seventeen prepositions to which following of is difficult to with so many of.

Now don't look at it. Ignore everything I've just said. Let it steep. Turn to something else for a bit. Sleep. Enjoy real life. And take a fresh look in a day or two. I myself have had a little nap and a little nip and I see now that it's not Robin Hood it's one of them Ninja guys.
smiley - biggrin


Post 7

~ jwf ~ scribblo ergo sum

Yuk, I just read what I just posted. And I'd like you to ignore all of it, except the bit where I said ignore everything.


Post 8


"...I now get a sense of 'contrition', as if you hated having to edit your true feelings and to pull your punches."

No, I keep mentioning "hostility," but I'm not actually angry about the Edited Guide. Using the term "scope" puts it in a better perspective for me than talking about "limitations" in the Writing Guidelines. I mean, it's not like they're saying fiction or poetry or prose that falls outside the scope of the Edited Guide is somehow "bad" writing. We'll do much better if we point out that AGG/GAG and the Edited Guide can peacefully co-exist, rather than if we jokingly or not-so-jokingly trade insults with the h2g2 staff.

Besides all that, I know darn well how easily people can be turned against one's project if they think you're being mean.

Anyhow, jwf, we've talked enough on h2g2 to form a slightly more than superficial bond. I don't take it as an insult when you or the others share your opinion about how the group or a page could be improved. Hope the feeling is mutual.

"...dampened by our criticism - and perhaps in several places the cuts have gone too deep."

Not at all. I'm glad anyone liked the idea. The Alt Writing-Guidelines isn't a page that I need to hog & take all the credit for. It needs input from the rest of y'all if it's going to reflect the feelings of AGG/GAG.

And so far I've agreed with most of your suggestions! Thanks for pointing out the rambling string of prepositions. I probably do need a few days' perspective before coming back to this. I'll make a few adjustments tonight, then leave it alone a few days.

Robin Hood ~ Ninja? Excuse me while I call Jet Li's agent...


Post 9


In re-reading an earlier post from this thread, I can see where it might seem like I was mad, but it was supposed to be a joke.

"Other bits I changed were the second paragraph at the top (trying to restrain some hostility there), plus the footnote, implemented Lu's suggestions for 2/3, 7/8 and #13, plus little tinkering all throughout. Oh hell, y'all will just have to read the whole thing again."

I was trying to list the few spots I had tweaked, so you wouldn't have to re-read the whole piece again to check them out. Then after listing them all, I realized there were changes throughout, so I gave up and said "Oh hell, just read the whole thing again." It's hard to convey tone through plain text sometimes, but that wasn't meant to be angry. It needed one of these: smiley - smiley !


Post 10

Tonsil Revenge (PG)

Sorry to be so late. I had a 'DAY' today.

'Credo quia absurdum est'- I believe it because it is absurd.

'Parturiunt montes, nascetur ridiculus mus'- The mountains are in labor and a ridiculous mouse will be brought forth. Virgil(?)

'pereant quiante nos nostre dixerunt'- may they perish who have expressed our bright ideas before us...

The platypus exists. The rules for many centuries, and the guardians of the rules, said it could not exist, must not exist. The rules can be wrong.

The sunset and clouds exist. The rules say the sunset and clouds must be painted so that you know what you are looking at. Well, hell, every day, in most parts of the world, you can go outside and see the sunset and clouds. A painting is not needed. Yet every painting of the sunset and clouds is a painting of the sunset and clouds because the painter says so, regardless of whether you can tell it is without reference to the title. A painter who can paint what anyone can paint better have a damn good reason.

This is not just TR on another binge of self-fermented madness. There is a point to all this. A zen point, but a point, nevertheless.


Post 11

~ jwf ~ scribblo ergo sum

smiley - zen
"The wind she blows and blows. And then she blows some more."
- French Canadian proverb

By george I think this 'piece' is just about done. I was surprised to see you'd made more adjustments already. But let it cool for a bit, a week to be exact, and then we'll feature it in #14.

And I have one final critique, the use of that word 'piece' twice in the opening's third paragraph, final sentence. May I suggest "...it might help you write something interesting. It might even get your work featured in Agg/GAGsmiley - biggrin."

I'm putting #13 together tonite and Sunday if anyone has any special requests... I'll put a proposed list and calls for intros in the conversation thread '13'.



Post 12

~ jwf ~ scribblo ergo sum

> I don't take it as an insult when you or the others share your opinion .... Hope the feeling is mutual. <

It's essential.
And as there seem to be (on average) about five of us, I'd say it's 'quintessential'. smiley - biggrin

The more I get to know all of you, the more I realise our differences, as well as our common interests and goals. It reminds me of mid sixties album covers. Until then, Pop groups, [The early Beatles, Temptations, Supremes, Drifters, even the Dave Clark Five] especially from Motown & Philly, had a packaged style of wearing uniform 'show clothes' costumes and looking alike in a standard grooming.
The mark of a good mid-to-late-60s group was the 'differences' and the 'individualitites'. The cover of the Stones' "High Tide & Green Grass" comes to mind, or the Band.
Bad choices perhaps.
smiley - erm


Post 13

Tonsil Revenge (PG)

Crosby, Stills, Nash & Young!
Dino, Desi and Billy!
Blood, Sweat and Tears!
Earth, Wind and Fire!


Post 14

Tonsil Revenge (PG)

Peter, Paul and Mary!
Emer, Slake and Palmer!


Post 15


Modesky, Martin & Wood!
Bel Biv DeVoe!
Kukla, Fran & Olly!
The Three Tenors?

motley rule

Post 16


I fixed that echolalia of the word piece as per your suggestion. Even added the smiley - biggrin at the end of the line. I'll leave it alone for a week. Just patched up that bit because I would have forgot about it if I left it for a week.


Post 17


Master tonsil, if I grasp the parable out of your palm, do I get some of those cool dragon and tiger tattoos up my forearms?

I was going to complain at you for speaking in riddles again, but let me try to figure if I understood you first, then I'll complain after.

I think you're saying that we don't need to give rules for how researchers can get their entries selected by AGG/GAG. If they write anything they feel without any limits or suggestions from us, it will go just as well or better.

If that's what you meant, I agree. When I started making notes about the Alt Writing-Guidelines, I meant it as a parody of the Writing-Guidelines. The purpose of it is not really to guide someone into writing what we want, but to show how you can break almost all the rules of the Edited Guide's Writing-Guidelines and still write something valuable. The thing that sticks in my craw is the big header on the Writing-Guidelines that says "How to Write Great Guide Entries." In a few spots, it sounds like they're giving good general rules for writing, not just defining the scope of the Edited Guide. Some of them are good rules for beginning writers, like "Write what you know." But most of them are rules that a skilled writer can break.

Am I understanding the point of your zen story, master? Would it work better if the Alt Writing-Guidelines made it more clear that these are not rules we expect everyone to read and follow before submitting to AGG/GAG, that it's just a parody/rebuttal to the real Writing-Guidelines?

[Master, please don't respond by saying, "The wind shows through patches of violet haze, yet the moon knows no sun." If you use more than one zen story per 20 posts on a message thread, you'll frighten away students!]


Post 18

~ jwf ~ scribblo ergo sum

smiley - crescentmoonsmiley - zensmiley - crescentmoon
The moon is a harsh mistress.
smiley - smiley

I've suggested to Spiff that he write something 'permanent' for our homepage and also for our #14 that would direct folks to the new Alt-Guidelines. Your point is well taken, =X, that we don't want to merely substitute one set of rules for another but rather show how the official rules were made to be broken.
Spiff was concerned that he had tried to direct someone else (who wanted to contribute) to an area where they could post or discuss their contribution. I guess we need to make that clearer than the present invitation on our homepage. Posting to the new Alt-Guidelines page seems like a good place for folks to leave links to their suggestions. Most of our AggGag homepage threads smiley - monster seem to scare folks off.smiley - weird


Post 19

Tonsil Revenge (PG)

There is an old Russian proverb:

If a child has two nannies, it will be found with a missing hand.
If a child has three nannies, it will be found without a head.

This is there version of 'too many cooks spoil the soup'.

I am making a effort in several conversations to encourage researchers to let go and just write. As long as it is in English, I am not too particular. I see this as a mentoring kind of thing that will have an RL application above and beyond the life or lack of it of AGG/GAG. I have found too many instances of people registering as researchers to prove a point or to post their school thesis or their personal philosophical(sp?)thesis.
I agree that there needs to be a page and a series of threads where new AGG/GAGees can go. But I think the alt guidelines should be on the order of 'Let Her Rip!'. Without the intensity of a whole page.
Something along the lines of:

The KISS version:
1. Remember what they told you to stop doing? Well, do it!

2. Remember what they told you you should never do? Well, do it!

3. All we ask is that it be accessible on some level. Spelling, punctuation and grammar are nice. An actual thesis would be good.
But if you are going to ride the lightning and make us watch, at least try to make it entertaining.

Keep It Simple, Stupid means short words briefly stated. It is all right to have older researchers (to the site and chronologically) reacting to the strictures of the Ed-tied Guy-ed, but I think it would be funner to have new researchers scribbling just for the fun of it without the baggage of pretention(sp?).

Plus, there is that old paradox that the reaction to orthodoxy becomes orthodox in it's anti-ness. The more serious it becomes, the sillier it becomes.

It is possible to be too responsible.

When you're an Anvil, hold you still;
When you're a Hammer, strike your fill.

Poor Richard's Almanack, for January, 1758


Post 20

Tonsil Revenge (PG)

So, what does Spliff want, a 'Bunny Slope' page?

smiley - bunnysmiley - run

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