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Do you read the editorial comments?

By Signal 11 in Meta
Sun Feb 11, 2001 at 02:50:07 AM EST
Tags: Kuro5hin.org (all tags)

I'll keep this short and sweet. I've noticed that after a story is shot down in the queue, it is not resubmitted. Other times, a story which should have been shot down is posted, and the author then makes no attempt to create an updated version. In addition to that, it seems that many people write editorial comments, but few authors read them. Is a redesign in the future?

I'm just putting a hook in the water to see what the response is here - do people find editorial comments useful? How many of you read the criticisms by other people of your work - do you go back after it is posted and see what was said, or ignore it since "it was posted, afterall"?

Another idea I would like to advance is removing the ability to post topical comments while a story is in the queue, as well as the ability for an author to retract a story if factual or other errors are found while it is in the queue. After it's posted, of course, that should no longer be possible... but I've seen quite a few authors lament over a bad link or a major blunder that is overlooked by the "5-seconds-to-vote" crowd. What do you all think?

Oh yeah, one other thing.. is there a better TODO list around here than this? :)


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Do you read the editorial comments? | 40 comments (32 topical, 8 editorial, 0 hidden)
Don't delete the stories! (3.85 / 7) (#1)
by vectro on Fri Feb 09, 2001 at 11:08:57 PM EST

Something I find really frustrating is the way that Scoop deletes reject stories. This is annoying for a variety of reasons.

First, often even rejected stories yield good discussion. There's no reason to cut such conversations short, just because the story won't recieve any additional publicity.

Second, if a story is rejected the author can't go back and look at the editorial comments; They are deleted as well.

Third, rejected stories are not included in a user's "my stories" page.

In fact, there's only one good reason I can think of to not keep hidden stories around -- to solve the "sid=trolltalk" problem. But this is not such a big problem, methinks. So let's keep rejected stories!

“The problem with that definition is just that it's bullshit.” -- localroger
rejected stories aren't deleted (4.75 / 4) (#2)
by Defect on Fri Feb 09, 2001 at 11:12:16 PM EST

they are hidden to everyone except the author and the admins, so the author can look back on the editorial comments and determine whether or not he/she should resubmit it with changes.
defect - jso - joseth || a link
[ Parent ]
where are they? (5.00 / 1) (#14)
by kellan on Sat Feb 10, 2001 at 01:01:40 AM EST

Defect said:
they are hidden to everyone except the author and the admins
they are? how do you, as an author, see them?

when i expected my story to disappear, i set display=nested and saved the whole source of the page, so i would have it as a reference.


[ Parent ]

to get the url (none / 0) (#29)
by Defect on Sat Feb 10, 2001 at 09:02:10 AM EST

You'll have to ask the admins. You should have gotten an email to the address you signed up with stating that your story has been hidden with a url to that story.
defect - jso - joseth || a link
[ Parent ]
Should be able to pull your own stories (4.00 / 3) (#3)
by onyxruby on Fri Feb 09, 2001 at 11:16:21 PM EST

I like the idea of being able to yank a story after certain corrections like dead links get pointed out. Let an author pull their own story before it posts, and repost it if they want. I also like the idea of not hiding buried stories from everyone. I like the idea of the editorial comment, but without an edit capability, it's only of limited use.

The moon is covered with the results of astronomical odds.

removal of comments (3.50 / 2) (#11)
by klamath on Sat Feb 10, 2001 at 12:42:51 AM EST

I like the idea of being able to yank a story after certain corrections like dead links get pointed out.
I think this could be useful -- except, I think it gives the author too much power to effect the story. If the author chooses to yank the story, all the comments are effectively lost -- even if there is an active discussion still continuing. Perhaps authors should only be able to pull a story if there have been less than x topical comments posted (say, x = 25). I think at that point, the story has merit -- even if that merit is not the story itself, but the discussion that has begun about it.

[ Parent ]
Editorial Comments -- what's the point? (3.37 / 8) (#4)
by GreenCrackBaby on Fri Feb 09, 2001 at 11:26:15 PM EST

Really...what is the point of them? As you've pointed out, few people actually go back and read them (so it would seem). And if you do go back and read them, what a waste of effort!

I've found that editorial comments fall under 3 categories:
1. Useful -- these comments provide information such as "hey, this link is broken" or "whoops, you got your facts wrong."
2. Holy-than-thou -- these are the most common, and most useless of the bunch. These will point out: spelling error(s), incorrect grammar, or incorrect punctuation. Damn I hate these, as they don't address the story in the slightest. Unless the message comes out looking like arabic when it's actually English, shut up about simple errors -- this site is not an English class.
3. Just plain stupid -- you've all read these: "this was posted on /. already". Don't ever leave one of these please -- they serve no purpose. Many of us don't read /. at all (or any of the other common sites). Sometimes when an MLP comes through, it's the first I've heard of the story. If you happen to have seen it, shut up and ignore the conversation. The fact these comments normally show up for MLP is the most ironic, since by definition, some other site will have posted this story already.

Spelling/grammar (4.50 / 4) (#7)
by ucblockhead on Sat Feb 10, 2001 at 12:23:23 AM EST

Spelling and grammar complaints would be a lot more useful if there were a way to fix these mistakes after the story is posted.

This is k5. We're all tools - duxup
[ Parent ]
spelling corrections == good (3.80 / 5) (#10)
by klamath on Sat Feb 10, 2001 at 12:38:41 AM EST

Holy-than-thou -- these are the most common, and most useless of the bunch. These will point out: spelling error(s), incorrect grammar, or incorrect punctuation. Damn I hate these, as they don't address the story in the slightest.
Your 'hatred' of these comments seems quite irrational. The fact is these comments do "address the story". Grammar and spelling affect the presentation of the content to the reader, and a story with good grammar is better than a story without it. In the same way that K5 users should demand a high level of quality in the content of stories that get posted, they should also demand that authors maintain a reasonable level of grammatical accuracy. Would you expect a major newspaper or online publication (like CNN, Salon, etc) to publish stories with obvious grammar or spelling mistakes? Obviously, K5 is a different kind of site, but I think it's self-evident that good grammar and spelling produce a better story -- and I think that some effort by K5 users to ensure this grammatical quality would be well spent.

Obviously, there are limits to this: a story which mispells a single word but is otherwise excellent should not be voted down simply for the one mistake. However these editorial comments do serve a purpose: if the story is dropped from the queue and the author resubmits it, the grammatical corrections can be incorporated. A K5 editor can edit the story to correct the mistakes, provided they are fairly minor. Finally, if K5 users bitch about stories with poor grammar and spelling, and vote these stories down, story authors will eventually learn to read over their submission before sending it in -- this will improve the quality of stories for everyone.

These comments could be more useful if K5 provided a simpler way for authors to update/edit their stories: perhaps a voting queue on changes to stories, like has been suggested by others.

[ Parent ]

You are forgetting... (3.00 / 3) (#16)
by GreenCrackBaby on Sat Feb 10, 2001 at 01:08:40 AM EST

...English is not the first language for many of the posters. To penalize them (essentially exclude them from k5) for a few (or even many) errors that really do not affect their message in the slightest would be a black mark on this site IMHO.

[ Parent ]
Penalize them? (4.33 / 3) (#23)
by rusty on Sat Feb 10, 2001 at 02:33:25 AM EST

The aim of spelling and grammar corrections isn't, I think, to penalize anyone. It's to help them. If you were writing an article in your second or third language, wouldn't you still want it to read clearly and idiomatically in that language? I know I'd be glad of help from native speakers. The problem, as stated elsewhere, is mainly that the author can't do anything about errors once a story's submitted. This is what makes these comments so frustrating. This is the fundamental problem.

But the idea that these things shouldn't be fixed is, IMO, just wrong. Once an author has the ability to fix spelling and grammar mistakes, I certainly hope people vote things down if they choose not to because "this isn't an English class."

Not the real rusty
[ Parent ]

Penalize them ? - My expectations (none / 0) (#31)
by mami on Sat Feb 10, 2001 at 11:56:44 AM EST

As some non native English speaker and someone who just made a first attempt to post a story (actually I put up the story to see if I could incite a discussion about a subject I know feel differently than most of the crowd here), I like to comment:

1. I read editorial comments. They are the first critique, which any author should consider, before releasing a story to a public section, I think, - if he had an easy way to consider the critique, rewrite the story or withdraw the story altogether, that is. Basically, I think it would very much benefit the quality of what is posted into the public arena, I think, if these options were easily available.

2. You should point out spelling and grammar mistakes and broken or missing links, that's how we can learn to write better.

3. I do expect to find in editorial comments also topical critiques of the content. So, I use an editorial comment often to be sure a matter-of-factly topical comment does not get in the public arena, if the story goes through. I see that as a beneficial tool for making the author "think again" about what he said, before the story gets posted. Basically that's the only way of defense one has right now to influence what gets posted and archived.

4. As you can see in my story in the queue, all my defending editorial comments can't be read anymore. I have no option, though I asked for it, to withdraw the story. Rewriting a story to make content changes, seems to be complicated, because you would submit similar stories multiple times in short time periods and that is annoying and time consuming too.

5. Topical comments can at times be very worthwhile writing in a queue. If they would induce a rewrite by the author, and the original topical comment goes nevertheless through together with the rewrite, then the topical comment might just not be a logical response to the final version of the posted, public story anymore.

6. May be I get it all wrong. But considering that the subjects discussed are not merely technical, you draw a crowd who is not that "terribly pedantic" to dig in all the rules and regulations in fine print somewhere deep down in the hirarchy of site's files. Considering that the user also doesn't have all the time in the world to start digging in hundreds of sites to find out what is expected from him, I would expect more control choices of the poster with regards to his own words .

[ Parent ]
Uh, yeah... (4.50 / 4) (#6)
by Skippy on Sat Feb 10, 2001 at 12:16:19 AM EST

I do. I have them turned on for EVERY story even after its posted. I like to see what the editorial consensus is on a story. Often times it's dismal even for a story that generates a lot of discussion. The problem isn't with the concept of editorial comments. The problems are the lack of a feature in Scoop and the lack of a feature in authors.

The missing feature in Scoop is the ability for authors who care to pull their stories from the queue. If an author puts up a story with errors that get pointed out there are only two things they can do. They can ask an admin to make changes. Not a good solution because the admins are busy and they don't like to make changes to stories that already have votes. Or they can post a comment asking for the story to be voted down. A lot of people vote before reading comments so this doesn't work so well. This results in a lot of stories that could be better if the author could pull, change and resubmit - but they can't.

The feature missing in authors is pride in their story. A lot of authors seem to think of stories as big comments. They're poorly researched opinion pieces tossed up as a bunch of leading questions. (The "all-question story" is a pet peeve of mine). If it makes it, great, they got a story posted. If not, then the voters must be idiots. Some authors just don't care&0151;so all the editorial comments in the world won't help.

I'll bet, though I'm too lazy to look it up, that the first lack is being addressed. I don't think the second can be as easily redressed. Maybe if the first lack is fixed then we can do some cultural hacking to fix the second. Once authors can pull and resubmit a story based on editorial comments then we can apply pressure for authors to do so. Until then, yeah, editorial comments are about worthless but that doesn't mean that we should get rid of them. We should give them the teeth they need.

# I am now finished talking out my ass about things that I am not qualified to discuss. #

Problem isn't with editorial comments (4.33 / 6) (#8)
by gblues on Sat Feb 10, 2001 at 12:25:59 AM EST

I don't see so much a problem with editorial comments as much as there is a usability problem with the submission queue.

Stories need to be malleable by the author while they are in the queue. There should be a way for me, once I've submitted a story, to make updates to the existing story. Editorial commentary is only useful if the writer can do something with it. Why should the author be required to pollute the queue with multiple versions of the same story? The topical discussion from one doesn't move to the other. Stories should remain visible in "submitted stories," even those that end up rejected in the queue. The author should be able to rescind an article that is in the queue or that has been rejected.

Once the story has been posted, it should be considered "locked" and, at that point, only a site admin would be able to make changes. I realize that this leaves open the possibility for a malicious user to wait until the story gets close to threshhold and, if timed correctly, put something filled with profanity/explicit language on the front page. But we've already got disciplinary actions to discourage that behavior should it arise. Besides, if a story is going to the front page, the author has likely put a lot of work into it and isn't likely to be a troll.

Feedback is good, but the ability to do something with that feedback would be even better.

... although in retrospect, having sex to the news was probably doomed to fail from the get-go. --squinky
Reseting votes (none / 0) (#34)
by ucblockhead on Sat Feb 10, 2001 at 04:09:05 PM EST

As I said before in a similar discussion, one way to avoid malicious editing would be to clear out the votes when a story is edited. Perhaps also add two different -1 options, "-1, Dump it" and "-1, fix it". All "-1, fix it" votes are cleared out when the story is edited. Also, "-1, fix it" wouldn't delete it when under the threshold, just hide it where only the author can see.

As it stands, it is a little frustrating for authors, especially when you agree with the criticisms. There've been cases where I wish I could have gone back and changed things, even if the story does look like it is going to get voted up.

There is the danger of people clogging the queue by repeatedly editing to keep it from getting dumped. A solution might be to allow only a limited number of edits.
This is k5. We're all tools - duxup
[ Parent ]
I don't think there's a danger. (none / 0) (#37)
by gblues on Sat Feb 10, 2001 at 11:27:10 PM EST

You said yourself that the "-1 fix it" would get cleared out. Presumably the "-1 dump it" wouldn't get cleared out. So if the story got killed because enough people voted "dump it" then it would get dumped regardless of how many times it was edited.


... although in retrospect, having sex to the news was probably doomed to fail from the get-go. --squinky
[ Parent ]
so i read the editorial comments, now what? (4.66 / 3) (#12)
by kellan on Sat Feb 10, 2001 at 12:55:59 AM EST

i think many authors do go back and read the comments (editorial or otherwise) made about their stories. you can see them deep in the threads defending, debating, acknowledging, and apologizing, but rarely, rarely editing.

i think there are a number of reasons for this, two that pop to mind are:
1) many editorial comments would be better suited for alt.flames

2) (and most importantly) it is very unclear how an author should go about editing their work. there is no document, no set of guidelines, and certainly no features within scoop to make this easy and smooth.

i just recently ran into this exact problem, and after doing a survey of k5 and scoop, eventually decided that the only way to do editing was through contacting the k5 editors.

there have, however been some good suggestions on how to improve the editing process, and i've compiled what i could find in a diary entry


This is the major problem (5.00 / 3) (#22)
by rusty on Sat Feb 10, 2001 at 02:28:17 AM EST

Sure, you can read the editorial comments. You can even agree with them. But what can you do about them? This is a big problem, and one that's at the top of the "important things to fix" list. Which, of course, mainly exists in my head. Anyway, real editing abilities, coming soon.

Not the real rusty
[ Parent ]
Yay! (5.00 / 1) (#27)
by mdxi on Sat Feb 10, 2001 at 08:16:12 AM EST

* mdxi becomes a slightly happier panda

[ Parent ]
Yes, I do. (4.50 / 4) (#19)
by Eloquence on Sat Feb 10, 2001 at 02:03:07 AM EST

I have watched the editorial comments closely in each story I submitted and often replied to individual ones. Of course I usually disagree with them -- I wouldn't have written the story the way I did if I agreed -- but when I make (f)actual errors, I regret the fact that there is no story-editing, which I have bemoaned many times. The reason you see so many editorial comments without further reactions is that resubmissions create such a mess that in most cases the authors decide it's not worth it.

Ack, you confused me! I was close to making this an editorial comment ..
Copyright law is bad: infoAnarchy Pleasure is good: Origins of Violence
spread the word!

Editorial comments (4.16 / 6) (#20)
by spacejack on Sat Feb 10, 2001 at 02:23:02 AM EST

are good and helpful (especially if you make an article attempt). What we need is another vote option. It should be:

+1 Front page
+1 Section
+0.5 Resubmit with fixes
0 Don't care
-1 Dump Forever

wait (5.00 / 5) (#21)
by spacejack on Sat Feb 10, 2001 at 02:27:49 AM EST

+1 Front page
+1 Section
0 Don't care
-1 Resubmit with fixes
-1 Dump Forever

i.e., resubmit would help dump it, but just let the author know they should resubmit.

Also, there might be a "draft" poll: the author would create a poll that would ask for direction where they thought it was needed. Or it could be a standard k5 designs.

Anyhow, just a suggestion.

[ Parent ]
Keep topical comments! (4.00 / 2) (#24)
by jesterzog on Sat Feb 10, 2001 at 05:04:54 AM EST

Editorial comments are for more than just the aurhor. I usually scan the editorial comments before voting to see what ideas others' have on stories, and if I agree. Also, often when I post an editorial comment it's equally with the hope of convincing other people to see it the same way I do. It doesn't always work, of course.

I also think there should be an easy way for authors to find editorial comments on rejected stories. Once a story has been deleted, it can be very difficult to track down the orphaned comments. Not good if it's deleted shortly after they were posted.

Another idea I would like to advance is removing the ability to post topical comments while a story is in the queue, as well as the ability for an author to retract a story if factual or other errors are found while it is in the queue.

Didn't you already post this suggestion in this story?

Anyway, as I said last time, I'm still firmly against it. Remove the ability for people to post topical comments on stories in the queue, and everyone will just start posting topical comments as editorial comments.

Also the last thing I want is to have to read a story, but have to wait an undetermined amount of tme to re-click all over the place before I can comment on it.

jesterzog Fight the light

Editorial/Topical (4.00 / 2) (#28)
by antizeus on Sat Feb 10, 2001 at 08:43:54 AM EST

Anyway, as I said last time, I'm still firmly against it. Remove the ability for people to post topical comments on stories in the queue, and everyone will just start posting topical comments as editorial comments.
How about if all editorial comments were deleted once the story gets either posted or dumped? That would remove the incentive to post topical comments as editorial.

Another somewhat related idea is to make it so that editorial comments can't be rated.
[ Parent ]

I don't really agree (none / 0) (#38)
by jesterzog on Sun Feb 11, 2001 at 03:01:33 PM EST

Well possibly, but I still don't see the point in not wanting people to make topical comments in the first place.

From memory, sig's original reasoning was that good topical comments might be being lost when a story was rejected. It just seems pointless to me though, because by posting a topical comment in a queue story, it's an obvious risk anyway. If people lose their 'hard thought out' comments once or twice on a crap story, it might condition them into making a better judgement next time.

On the other hand, it's still very convenient being able to post topically in the queue. Otherwise it means having to come back a day or more later, click on twice as many stories, and re-remember something that was already read previously. Reading things twice over can get tedious - especially given the length of some stories, and anyone who doesn't might forget key points.

That's my view, anyway.

The idea that editorial comments not being rate-able seems interesting. The biggest risk I guess is that someone might start spamming stories with editorial comments.

jesterzog Fight the light

[ Parent ]
Fixing the queue (4.75 / 4) (#30)
by leviathan on Sat Feb 10, 2001 at 11:03:51 AM EST

I will, once again, raise the idea of the edit queue which rusty thought (at least once) was a good idea.

Addressing your concerns directly, this would allow voters to vote things back to the edit queue if there are only a couple of editorial problems with it - if everyone realises the opportunity of this, this process would hopefully occur pretty quickly before significant voting happens. This may also hopefully allow those of us that care about the quality of the writing to get that improved too without appearing like party poopers.

Of course, in the edit queue there would be no topical comments - ideally the little errors should be fixed before it goes through for proper voting. I trust that rusty has at least something like this in mind still to fix these issues

leviathan voted -1, by the way : been through all this before (see above)

I wish everyone was peaceful. Then I could take over the planet with a butter knife.
- Dogbert

Screen topical comments (4.50 / 4) (#32)
by Chrisfs on Sat Feb 10, 2001 at 01:27:50 PM EST

I like the idea of screening topical comments before the article is actually published. It seems that often most of the discussion takes place before an article is ever published. Why should I take the time to craft an article that's interesting and well researched enough to pass the vote when I get all the rewards of attention and dialogue before the decision happens.
It kind of undermines the purpose of voting to begin with

I think we really need a drafting feature (4.75 / 4) (#33)
by extrasolar on Sat Feb 10, 2001 at 03:59:31 PM EST

When posters post stories, they should be considered a draft. If it gets rated to be posted to the front page or a section, then it is considered a final draft. If it gets rated to dump it, then it is gone, never to be seen from again.

The other option is for it to be rated to allow another draft. In this case, the author gets a link "Revise this story as another draft."

Then the author gets a text field with his text in it so that he can impove upon it and then resubmit it. What happens is that the old story becomes deleted from the moderation queue, the new revised story replaces it, all of the topical comments are moved over to the new story, and all of the editorial comments are deleted because they are no longer valid with the new revision.

Then the rating can begin again with FP,Section,Revise, and dump.

look to the earlier conversations (none / 0) (#40)
by kellan on Tue Feb 13, 2001 at 09:57:53 AM EST

the ability to edit and revise stories has been discussed a number of times. there are some obvious problems with the solution you propose, though I like the addition of "Revise" to the pull down.
  • a quick survey i did of previous conversations
  • an earlier comment in this thread also points to the previous discussions.
  • a comment from rusty laying out his plans for a fix.

[ Parent ]
Reactions to negative comments (3.50 / 2) (#35)
by ucblockhead on Sat Feb 10, 2001 at 04:24:20 PM EST

Unfortunately, I think that many take editorial comments too personally. None of us are perfect and all stories can be improved. In one particular case (the Amazon micropayments thing), I am pretty sure the story would have gotten voted up if the author had merely resubmitted as an MLP or added some of his own views. Instead, he seems to have just taken it personally and bailed. Too bad.
This is k5. We're all tools - duxup
negative != constructive (3.50 / 2) (#39)
by kellan on Tue Feb 13, 2001 at 09:49:20 AM EST

The editorial comments can get very harsh, and flame like. People are invested in anything they create, if they weren't invested in it, we wouldn't want it here on k5. That said, when people post a story, and come back to 20+ editorial comments of, this story sucks, and your writing sucks, and you suck, its easy to get discouraged.

Very rarely do people post what they like, what they think is strong, what works, the things that real editors do. Instead everybody just reaches for the flame thrower.

In an environment like that, of course people get discouraged. Not everybody graduated from the usenet school of conversation-as-slugfest, or maybe they are use to this and were hoping to find something different on k5.


[ Parent ]

to do list... (5.00 / 5) (#36)
by hurstdog on Sat Feb 10, 2001 at 04:30:42 PM EST

I wrote up a short "todo list" here It just covers some stuff that I've been wanting to do, as well as other stuff that needs to get done. There are some other things that are being coded now too, like Carnage4Life is working on customizable front pages, as well as rusty is working on some theming abilities for scoop so it looks how you want (instead of how Driph wants it ;-), and also a spellchecker, and panner has written a new installer.

Also, we're into a "Feature Freeze" for scoop 0.6. I wrote up an email and sent it to scoop-help about it. Everything not mentioned there will go into the next release.

And we still are going to code up the ability for people to Edit/Drop/Resubmit stories that they wrote. K5 runs the cvs code of scoop, so since thats not listed for 0.6 it won't matter, k5 will still get it soon.

Do you read the editorial comments? | 40 comments (32 topical, 8 editorial, 0 hidden)
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