Interview with a Scavenger
To learn more about the Flea Market, it's a good idea to talk to some of the folk behind it. In this issue we interview Gosho:
Bluebottle: I found that you've had a previously uncredited Flea Market Rescue:
I then wondered whether I may interview you for the next issue of Super Market? Would you like to tell me anything about this article that you have rescued?
Gosho: I can't remember how I came across it in the first place, but it struck a chord with me because the first job I had after leaving school was making sweets and I'd already written one other confectionary-related entry, followed by a few more after this one. Marshmallow was one of things I'd made during my time as a sugar boiler. It might be that Easter was coming up and I wanted to write about Peeps because, although I'd been living in the US for a couple of years by then, I'd only just found out about these things. I'd always do a search before starting on a new entry and this one must have come up in the results. Having looked at the entry just now, for the first time in a fair few years, I can see that it needs a bit of Curating.
Bluebottle: Would you only rescue articles about subjects you know well?
Gosho: Definitely. When creating entries, either new or from an existing entry, I've stuck with the advice given to budding fiction writers - write about what you know. It sure didn't do the careers of John le Carré, JRR Tolkien or Ian Fleming any harm, although exactly what JK Rowling knows about wizardry is open to speculation.
Bluebottle: Did you approach the Flea Market Rescue any differently to how you write an article from scratch? Is it easier or more difficult?
Gosho: Well, you have to approach it differently because you're not starting with a clean slate - there's already content there which has to be taken into consideration. It depends on how good the original entry is. Updates and Flea Market rescues can be just as easy as writing an entry from scratch, often easier because so much of the information is already there, including some you might not have considered or thought of yourself, and laid out in a way you might not have; perhaps better, perhaps not. The only difficult thing about a Flea Market/update task is deciding how much of the original to take out or leave in and how to weave your own content around it. It's good to leave the original Researcher's fingerprints on it if you can, although... (see next question)
Bluebottle: When you wrote your Flea Market rescue, how did you decide what to keep and what to edit, and how much of a right do you feel that you have in making decisions about the article?
Gosho: Again, it depends on how much work the original writer put in, how accurate it is, how relevant to your knowledge of the subject matter. It's my opinion that once a Researcher has agreed to have their entry put in the Flea Market (if that's how it got there) they've effectively abandoned it; absolved themselves of any further involvement or responsibility for it, apart from having their name on the entry if and when it gets into the Guide, but if they're still around there's no reason why they shouldn't be approached if the rescuer thinks it's appropriate/useful.
Bluebottle: Would you recommend doing Flea Market rescues to other researchers?
Gosho: Sure. It's a good way to get inspiration to write about a subject you might not have otherwise considered.
Bluebottle: How do you think you would feel about being on the other side, about someone else making changes to an entry you had written, if someone tried to rescue an entry you had abandoned?
Gosho: See above.
Bluebottle: How much revision do you think proper in a FM Rescue?
Gosho: That depends entirely on the entry. As a Scout I saw entries go to the Flea Market that were not far off ready to be recommended for editing, and others that virtually needed a complete rewrite but which had the potential for a fine entry. The original entry might have been written by someone who knew little about the subject and based it almost entirely on research, whereas you might be an expert on the subject. I think I saw that happen once or twice in PR.
Bluebottle: Are you considering doing another Flea Market Rescue in the near future?
Gosho: I don't have any plans to, but you should never say never.
Sin Bin Spring Clean
Before the Flea Market existed, there was a part of h2g2 called the Peer Review Sin Bin, where 'badly-formed Peer Review Conversations' that didn't follow the Peer Review Submission rules were moved. Fortunately submitting entries to Peer Review was simplified with the introduction of the 'Submit For Review' button in around 2001, leaving the Sin Bin a neglected dumping ground.
As I strongly believe that no part of h2g2 should be a neglected dumping ground, I've been tidying the Peer Review Sin Bin and emptying it of entries (which has had the effect of kicking-up 14-year-old conversations). My mission? As the Sin Bin has been replaced by the Flea Market, to move the relevant entries to the Flea Market, with the rest Back to the Entry which they describe.
There were about 450 conversations in the Sin Bin, concerned with around 400 articles. As an author, I prefer conversations about my articles to be where I can easily find them (ie, attached to my articles) rather than in the middle of an overwhelming pile of conversations gathering dust and being ignored, so from a writer's perspective, emptying the Sin Bin seemed the right thing to do.
So, how were the entries sorted and how did some, and not others, become entered to the Flea Market?
In the interest of transparency, the process was:
- If the entry became Edited, Back to Entry.
- If the author is still here, the conversation was returned to Entry to allow the author to decide what to do with the entry.
- If the entry is a User Page, a conversation or about more than one entry, Back to User Page.
- If the entry has been Hidden or Deleted, Back to Entry.
- If the author has indicated that they do not want their article to be part of the Edited Guide, Back to Entry.
- If the topic is an opinion piece, rant, poem or work of fiction, Back to Entry.
- If it is very short or on a topic already covered in the Edited Guide, Back to Entry.
- If it is a substantial entry with real potential, Flea Market.
Almost all of the conversations there were for articles that have either become Edited Entries or have been deleted, so of almost 450 conversations, only the following made it to the Flea Market:
This means that there are a large number of entries up to be rescued - and you don't even need to have ever done a Flea Market rescue to contribute. Have you ever eaten a burger or toast? Watched M.A.S.K? Played RollerCoaster Tycoon? If so - we have an article for you!
Flea Market Rescues in Peer Review
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, the Flea Market needs You!