Legend | Sci-Fi 

Several hours ago, someone wished (by saying so in the Chatterbox) he had editor powers. That way he could just kill anything by anyone that disagrees with him.

Yikes! Is that what you think editors do?

Soon after, another noder created a disgruntled postal employee entry in the day log. He was upset because several of his write-ups vanished, some without an explanation in the editor log. He also mentioned the names of the editors who did log the reasons for removing his write-ups. According to him, we suck, because his write-ups were good.

Yikes, again!

Why do we have editors?

Everything is a publication. Not a paper-based publication, but a publication nonetheless.

All paper-based publications have editors. No one ever questions that (though, writers are not always happy about it). Not all online publications do, at least not in such a visible way as Everything does.

Various publications have different criteria as to what they publish. That allows their readers to decide which publications are of particular interest to them, and which ones to forgo. No one can read everything that is published.

Let me make a small analogy here: Everything is to Slashdot what Smithsonian is to Reader's Digest. Just an analogy, mind you, we are not Smithsonian, of course.

By that, I do not mean to say there is anything wrong with Slashdot, or that we are better than they are. All I'm saying is that we are different and serve a different purpose. Slashdot publishes every submission. Everything does not. Reader's Digest publishes many of its submissions (no paper-based publication prints them all, naturally). Smithsonian is more selective. Both Reader's Digest and Smithsonian have their faithful readership. So do both Slashdot and Everything. They simply satisfy the needs of different audiences.

It's not about power

It would be a poor editor who stopped anything from being published because it somehow is fun to do.

Editors of any publication follow the editorial policy established by the publisher. The same editor working for two different publications may reject a submission for one publication, yet readily accept the same submission for the other publication.

I compared Everything to Smithsonian, then said Everything was not Smithsonian. But one might as well think of Everything as the training ground for Smithsonian (or any other high quality publication). Everything editors help Everything noders to hone their skills. Hopefully, when the day comes something you have written is accepted for publication in Smithsonian, or any other good publication, you will look back and feel grateful that Everything editors forced you to write better way back when.

Rejecting good write-ups

First of all, nemo iudex in causa sua. That is to say, a writer cannot be objective about his work. Good writers (yes, even the famous ones) always work with an editor to improve what they have written.

Even a good writer does not produce a masterpiece every time he grabs the pen, or presses a key on his keyboard.

And, by the way, editors are not perfect either. Rejecting a submission for a paper-based publication is fairly easy. Rejecting one on Everything is hard: It has already been "published." The editor is not deciding not to publish it, but rather to unpublish it, so to speak.

Some write-ups are obviously bad. Others are not so obvious. They require a judgement call. And a risk of making a mistake. Either way. If I do not unpublish something that should not be published, I am allowing the quality of Everything to go down. If I do unpublish something that is not quite clearcut, I may be depriving Everything.

As an editor, I feel responsibility both to the readers and the writers, and it is sometimes hard to balance. We do our best, and that's the best we can do.

Editor Logs

The logs show only a tiny amount of the work Everything editors do. Generally, they only list the "negative". So it may seem all editors do is kill write-ups.

Not so. We spend countless hours every day sending and receiving messages. We try to help the noders, especially the new and less experienced ones, to improve their write-ups. We don't log that, because we do so much of it that it would be impractical to log. Besides, it might even sound like bragging.

We also cool nodes, that is, we send them to Page of Cool. This is the editor's favorite job. Finding a really good node gives us pleasure. We mostly don't log this either. After all, Page of Cool lists the name of the editor who cooled a node, so the information is available.

The least pleasant part of what we do is removing write-ups that are beyond salvage. Some of us log this activity, others do not.

In no publication on this planet are its editors obliged to explain why they reject a submission. Yet, many times they do. And every writer is pleased to receive a rejection slip that is not just a pre-printed form but contains some kind of explanation.

Why? Because it is the sign the editor feels positive about the writer. The editor feels the writer can improve, whether this particular piece of writing or his overall writing skills. A personalized rejection, no matter how brief, is always good for the writer.

Writers never complain about personalized rejections (which is what these logs are), they welcome them. Alas, not all noders are writers (though we hope all will learn something and become writers), so every so often a noder raises hell about being rejected.

That shows there are good reasons why an editor does not log a rejection.

The reason can be that the editor does not feel it would serve any purpose (a very bad write-up).

Or, sadly, the editor has encountered enough angry noders that he decides just to do his job and never to explain why he is doing what he is doing.

Or, the editor just may not have the time for, or feel like it. We're all volunteers here. We are not paid for being Everything editors, nor are we likely to be hired by Smithsonian just because we are Everything editors.

At any rate, fellow noders, rejoice when your writeups are rejected. Rejoice even more when the rejections are noded here. Because in the long run you may end up being a bestselling author thanks to the opportunity to hone your skills on Everything. You may not see it that way today, but Everything editors are your best friends.