Historically, I haven't had much to do with the Editor Logs here at Everything2. Preferring, perhaps misguidedly, to use the catbox as a transparent forum for my decision-making, I've never used this space to air my 'editorial philosophy' or chronicle my various projects unless my message was also a call to action directed at the userbase. It was along those lines that I staged a tag-line contest here last year, and today I'm likewise going to appeal to your talent and energy. But I'm also becoming more sensitive to the need for a permanent record of my actions and initiatives, especially when they've become as collaborative and long-term as they have lately. It's been a busy month for me! Here are some of the things I've been up to that I hope you'll want to take part in.

E2docs wants you!

For the past few years, I've spent summers writing administrative and technical documentation in the oil and gas industry. I've learned that even engineers need things seriously dumbed down for them when they're first getting to know a new interface or instrument. Similarly, stuff that looks obvious to our veteran users is often anything but for the neophyte. E2 is unfriendly to new noders, but it doesn't need to be confusing too.

I am now the group leader of e2docs, which I've purged of all users who have been inactive for more than two months. We are beginning to update, improve and pare down our help documentation and I'm inviting you to be a part of it! 

Specific goals:

  • Fine-tune Everything2 Quick Start until it is as clear and tight as possible and establish it in Everything2 Help as the first thing every newbie should read. (Already made some great progress on this since the log was posted! Check it out!)
  • Improve our how-to material for HTML in write-ups. We have a mess of these nodes right now, but they need to be pared down, consolidated and combed for errors and omissions. For example, E2 has been able to handle tables for some time now, but there is currently nothing that tells noders how to add them to their write-ups. 
  • Bring all documentation up to date. Among other things, this means it reflects the new Drafts system, accurate level power benchmarks, and omits mention of old or defunct features.
  • Keep it simple, keep it short or just don't keep it. If anything can be more concise, make it so. If anything needn't exist, ready the potassium chloride. 

When all is said and done, we should have an Everything2 Help that reflects our improvements, directing new users to fewer and better write-ups.

If this interests you, please join us at e2docs. Don't be discouraged if you are not a Content Editor and cannot edit documentation directly! You can always use Drafts to show me your improvements and I will promptly replace Virgil's versions with your own. If you're making largescale changes, I can probably just hook you up with Virgil's log-in and let you have at.

Everything2 First Contact

Lately some other users and I have been brainstorming ways to attract new contributors to Everything2. New Write-ups is far from inactive, but I don't think I'm alone in wishing for a steadier influx of unfamiliar faces. There are a lot of creative minds out there who'd benefit from the increased exposure Everything2 can offer their content, but many of them have yet to discover us. To this end, newly-minted editor misterfuffie recently spread the good word guerrilla-style with homebrew bumper stickers and Monkeylover has seeded his local library with some Everything2 bookmarks. I've decided to join the party with a slightly more personalized approach.

I've been combing the blogosphere for writers whose work, while very strong, isn't attracting much (or even any) notice. Often this material would clearly thrive here – these days even isolated blogs are full to bursting with film and book reviews, accounts of unique experiences and powerful creative work. I've been responding positively to some of these posts and suggesting their authors consider showcasing some choice content on Everything2, where they might increase their readership and benefit from the feedback of others. With our copyright policy as strong as it is, it certainly can't hurt.

I haven't streamlined my 'approach' enough to provide templates or examples just yet, but I welcome you to follow my lead in reaching out personally to those you encounter who might find a place with us here and reporting back on your level of success. 

Catching up

Since my last instalment, I've visited Italy twice and Switzerland once, had my heart broken, moved house, taken over editorship of Small Aperture, been knocked off my bicycle, quit my day job, and been offered a book contract. It's been pretty busy, yes.

Chanops and e2contact

The short statement is that e2contact is no more.

The medium-length statement is that e2contact considered itself redundant as a usergroup. Given its members had chanops powers already, they've simply been absorbed into chanops and retain their editorial buttons, too.

The long statement is that when I was appointed as Director of User Relations, I inherited two fledgeling usergroups: e2contact and chanops. e2contact was initially thought of as a 'rapid response unit' to user drama; they'd contact (aha!) users who were expressing worrying sentiments, perhaps about suicide or mental health, in their writeups, or respond to catbox statements of suicidal intent. chanops, on the other hand, was responsible for the catbox, to deal with users who are behaving 'inappropriately or offensively'. And all members of e2contact were members of chanops by default.

However, it soon became obvious that e2contact's role was extremely limited, and given that user drama mostly plays itself out in the catbox, chanops invariably deals with it. So e2contact evolved into a group of people who held baby-noders' hands. Except that, as a whole, the editorial team is fantastic at doing that. Any editor can - and indeed should be able to - offer advice and support to new users. And to be fair, I see users who aren't editors helping baby-noders all the time, which is awesome.

Thus, we were left with a usergroup without a purpose. After a few discussions, we decided that e2contact could safely be disbanded, with its members absorbed into chanops. Will this have any impact on users? I highly doubt it. It's just one fewer layer of pointless bureaucracy.

Catbox expectations

I trust the chanops team implicitly to respond to situations in the catbox - those of 'inappropriate or offensive behaviour' as well as users threatening to hurt themselves or similar - as they see fit. Much of the time it is a judgement call as to what constitutes behaviour worthy of being dragged, or just being asked to tone it down. However, we're all individuals with different opinions and we do sometimes get into discussions as to what's just banter, what's drag-worthy, and what might merit more substantial castigation.

In our most recent discussion, which focused on the word 'disruptive', I decided that rather than us pontificate on how chanops should respond, or not respond, to situations, it would be better to ask you, the people who actually use the catbox about your expectations. I'd rather that chanops can fulfil their function knowing what it is that you expect of them, and what it is that you expect of other catbox users, than do what we think it is that you want.

So, from your perspective, what sorts of behaviour should or should not be tolerated in the catbox? If you witnessed an instance of this intolerable behaviour, how would you expect chanops to react?

I know that opinions will be disparate, and in the words of Daddy DEB, you cannot please all of the people all of the time. However, I would much prefer that we worked to achieving some sort of consensus on acceptable behaviour and the consequences for unacceptable behaviour, rather than trundle on with unclear premises and differing expectations.

Today's 25 August 2011. I suggest that you daylog your thoughts and ideas there. It'll be an open conversation, and everyone knows where to look. In a month, I'll see what you all have to say.

The wheel turns

We've had a few editorial changes over the past month or so. I'll leave alex to tell you about the changes that he has implemented, but it was with much regret that I accepted tentative's resignation from the editorial team. She's focusing on being a student and doing studenty things and I wish her every success. We'll miss her, and the door is open should she want a second stint with a $.

I was really excited when misterfuffie agreed to pick up the mop and bucket and join us in the editorial caretaker's cupboard. And I'm delighted to see borgo back with an $, too.

To conclude

It's been a fabulous year for English cricket and to anyone who says that they're beating weakened teams, you can only play the opposition that turns up. The Rugby World Cup is fast approaching. I don't think England can win it, but I'd love to see them try. And I think you'd be a fool to knock Manchester United for the Premiership title.

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