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69164Re: [BackpackGearTest] Editing protocols WAS: EDIT ADDENDUM: Owner Review...

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  • Steven H. Miller
    Feb 3, 2006
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      Ted:

      Well, I kinda doubt my OR is anything earthshaking. I think it's
      reasonably to the point, but that's all.

      Thanks for the Survival Guide link. It's not linked from the main nav
      bar, nor is it linked from the How To Become A Tester page, although it
      IS linked from the Quickstart page.

      I hope it's OK to talk about process onlist like this. I really felt
      for those two reviewers who seemed to be bleeding so badly from being
      edited. I figured that if these two people were hurting badly enough
      to go public, there are probably others who are bleeding in private.
      It felt like a little public airing of the issues - without so much of
      the anguish - might do everyone a bit of good. (Pretty presumptuous
      for a newbie, I admit, but have been known to pop blythly in where
      angels fear to tread... with mixed results.)

      I think this list and the associated website are a very cool web
      phenomenon, and I'd like to be part of it. Obviously there's quite a
      few others who would, too, so I thought maybe reducing some of the
      emotional wear and tear of joining might be helpful.

      Best,
      SteveM


      On Feb 3, 2006, at 1:47 PM, edwardripleyduggan wrote:

      > Steve,
      >
      > Looking over your articulate, insightful, and incisive response, I'm
      > really looking forward to your OR! I feel the latter part of your note
      > goes to the heart of the matter. I do have a few comments.
      >
      > 1. Public expressions of dismay at edits have been rather uncommon on
      > BGT. In general, those who submit ORs for the first time are either
      > grateful for the assistance in getting their review into shape, or
      > they simply don't respond. They drop out of the program. Though that's
      > often disappointing to me as an editor, the cruel truth is that they
      > were (likely enough) not a good fit for the program.
      >
      > 2. The issue of "styles" is a tough one. In point of fact, we try to
      > avoid editing style wherever possible. As an example, we often let
      > punctuation issues pass, provided that they don't interfere with ease
      > of reading. This is just as well, as I'm terrible about punctuation
      > myself. We value the variety of the voices which our contributors
      > bring to the table. However, I'm often faced with new contributors who
      > know their gear, but not how to express their opinions about it. This
      > is rather tough on all concerned.
      >
      > 3. The single biggest source of confusion lies with metric
      > conversions, and with the expression of units. The best guide to this
      > by far is to be found at the foot of the conversion page, at
      >
      > http://www.backpackgeartest.org/convert.html
      >
      > I would be the first to admit that this is a little buried (not
      > something over which I have control). In the next revision of the
      > Survival Guide, I hope this will be hyperlinked.
      >
      > 4. On BGT, see
      >
      > http://www.backpackgeartest.org/lesson.php?lesson=BecomeTester&page=1
      >
      > (linked from the homepage).
      >
      > The Survival Guide, which is linked from several places, is at
      >
      > http://www.backpackgeartest.org/requirements.php
      >
      > Chapter 3 is the critical section.
      >
      > ******
      >
      >
      > We are all volunteers here, and we wouldn't be editing if we didn't
      > care about both BGT and those who contribute to it. Without
      > contributors, BGT does not exist. No edit I make, or that any of the
      > editors make, is addressed to the writer as an individual. We're
      > editing the text, not the person!
      >
      > I'm sure that there's more that I could write on this subject, but you
      > have addressed the issues admirably. Thanks.
      >
      > Very best,
      >
      > Ted.
      >
      >
      >
      >
      >
      >
      >
      >
      >
      > --- In BackpackGearTest@yahoogroups.com, Steven H. Miller
      > <metaphorce@...> wrote:
      > >
      > > Ted and Jason:
      > >
      > > Actually, looking back through my emails, I can't find the Survival
      > > Guide.  I certainly read the review-writing lessons on the website,
      > and
      > > I think I followed the suggestions pretty closely (but we'll see
      > when
      > > the editor "has at" my first review, won't we!)
      > >
      > > But having read a bunch of fresh reviews and the edits of them over
      > the
      > > past few weeks, it seems to me that there are not only standards -
      > > which are addressed well in your post, Ted - but also "styles"
      > involved
      > > here, and style requirements are not really clearly documented in
      > the
      > > online lessons.
      > >
      > > Style is a very subjective call.  I have noticed that every so
      > often, a
      > > new report writer just freaks out about being edited.  I've seen it
      > > twice in the past three weeks.  It has seemed to center on a sense
      > of
      > > outrage that the editor is being too demanding, too subjective, too
      > > arbitrary.
      > >
      > > It would certainly make it easier for a lot of new report-writers
      > if a
      > > couple of you veterans could try to document some thoughts on style,
      > > since you are certainly operating out of your style-opinions in your
      > > editing.
      > >
      > > Now, I write for a living, and my skin got toughened up to editing a
      > > couple of decades ago.  I feel it incumbent on me to pass along some
      > > advice that helped me over this emotional hurdle:
      > >
      > > a) If your editor does not seem objective to you, remember that as
      > the
      > > author, you are probably the least objective of all the parties
      > > involved.  Of course you think your piece is good: that's why you
      > wrote
      > > it that way.  But if you can step back from it honestly and pretend
      > > somebody else wrote it and see if you can spot anything in it that
      > > needs fixing... you'll find something every time.  Most really good
      > > writers are never completely satisfied with their work, and feel
      > that
      > > it was never really "finished" and perfected, only that they had to
      > > part with it at some point anyway.
      > >
      > > b) It's important to distinguish between you and your work. 
      > Criticism
      > > of your work is not criticism of you.  Outright rejection of your
      > work
      > > is not rejection of you.  Nobody's talking about you as a human
      > being
      > > when they're editing your report on a sleeping bag.   (The first
      > time I
      > > sent off a screenplay and got it back with a short 'Thanks, but no
      > > thanks' note, I called an older and wiser friend and glumly told her
      > > what had happened.  "I got rejected" I said.  "You did not get
      > > rejected!" she said very briskly.  "Your script got rejected.  They
      > > don't know you.  They've never even met you.")
      > >
      > > c)  This kind of writing is a job, it's not art.  It's not poetry,
      > it's
      > > not a confession of your inmost feelings, it's not a love letter. 
      > If
      > > it was one of those things, criticism of your style might be worth
      > > taking personally.  But this is a job.  If you were working your
      > first
      > > day on a construction job, and a veteran carpenter came by and
      > pointed
      > > to two boards you'd nailed together and said,  "Hey, that joint's
      > not
      > > square," you wouldn't start yelling at him for criticizing you. 
      > You'd
      > > get your square and fix the joint, and be thankful the guy helped
      > you
      > > out before you put up the wall-frame and found that the roof
      > wouldn't
      > > sit on it correctly.  Writing-style is more subjective than the
      > > squareness of two studs, but it's still a job, not art, and it's not
      > > worth expending a lot of emotional energy getting defensive about
      > it. 
      > > You are probably imperfect as a writer, and your editor is probably
      > > imperfect as an editor.  All we can do is try.
      > >
      > > All that said, I sympathize with the two freak-outs I've seen here. 
      > > It's terrible to feel that a strangers are capriciously torturing
      > you,
      > > just because they can.  I don't know how the editors decide between
      > > what things are mandatory edits and what are suggestions, but I
      > suspect
      > > that therein lies the key to the emotional problems I've seen so
      > far.
      > >
      > > Best,
      > > SteveM
      > >
      > > On Feb 3, 2006, at 7:02 AM, edwardripleyduggan wrote:
      > >
      > > > > Are these "house styles and standards" delineated in writing
      > > > somewhere
      > > >  > that's accessible to new reporters?  It might ease the
      > editor's work
      > > >  > considerably.
      > > >  >
      > > >  > SteveM
      > > >
      > > >  Not to mention the writer's...
      > > >
      > > >  Jason's post addressed this issue pretty well. The Survival
      > Guide,
      > > >  though a little out of date for a few minor details (a new
      > version is
      > > >  in the works) remains an essential document. Jason stressed
      > that, and
      > > >  as both a tester and an editor I agree.
      > > >
      > > >  One major source of edits is in the matter of conversions and
      > units.
      > > >  The BGT site has a converter utility. The foot of this page has
      > pretty
      > > >  comprehensive information regarding how this information should
      > be
      > > >  presented, and I consider this text indispensable.
      > > >
      > > >  The BGT standards are not hidden away or arbitrary; they are all
      > > >  documented, and most of the documentation is indicated upfront.
      > It
      > > >  seems not everyone reads it, though (or perhaps it isn't
      > internalized
      > > >  easily). I really don't expect perfect ORs to come rolling in--it
      > > >  would be boring if they did--but I do ask that those submitting
      > them
      > > >  carefully attend to my edits and advice. Most do.
      > > >
      > > >  Ted.
      > > >
      > > >
      > > >
      > > >
      > > >
      > > >
      > > >
      > > > To read our reviews, please visit http://www.backpackgeartest.org/
      > > >
      > > >
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