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Hello, and welcome to the wonderful world of editing! I was thinking about the best way to teach how to edit well and I settled on the most condescending, reductive, insulting and distracting method.
Editing is very important to the site. It's how quality is maintained and without quality control this community looks bad. Editors are valuable because they do a job that is tedious, thankless and requires skill. It's not an easy or fun task, but it's essential. Because the job is so important, editors need to be good. Bad editing makes more work and reduces the quality of the site.
This guide will help you figure out if you're cut out to be an editor, provide links to websites to help you become a better editor, define a few terms and provide examples of good editing and bad editing.I'd like you to meet my friends Blarrgy and Num-Num. Blarrgy and Num-Num both like to edit pages. Unfortunately, Num-Num doesn't actually know how to edit. Let's shame Num-Num for trying to do something he's incapable of and use his failures as an example!
AM I SUITED TO BEING AN EDITOR?
Wanting to edit is admirable, but you need to be honest about your abilities and work ethic. Again, it's important to know what you're doing. Doing the wrong thing results in more work for others and could possibly lead to a ban.
Let's look at Blarrgy and Num-Num's skills and methods of editing.
- Is a good speller: Blarrgy doesn't need to rely on spellcheck and his ability to spell is apparent from his posts around the wiki.
- Understands the basics of grammar: Blarrgy can identify and fix grammatical and punctuation errors confidently.
- Understands what words mean: Blarrgy makes sure he understands the words that are used by the writer or himself.
- Takes his time: Blarrgy makes an effort to read the whole story before hitting publish.
- Edits completely: Blarrgy doesn't just fix spelling or add categories, he tries to fix all types of problems.
- Knows the rules and stays updated on site policy: Blarrgy knows what's up and what's going down. That is to say, he knows what he should and shouldn't do.
- Takes it upon himself to become a better editor: “Hey, Blarrgy, wanna come play some stickball?
- "I can't, guys, I'm going to the PUBLIC LIBRARY!”
- Has OCD, a lust for pointing out how people are wrong, a love of writing, nothing better to do and/or a desire to make the site better: Blarrgy has various issues that make him want to make a story the best he can.
- Is a bad speller: Num-Num needs spellcheck for everything, has poor spelling habits at work, at home and in the bedroom. He loves to criticize and correct others while writing like a 19th century prostitute.
- Is bad with grammar: Num-Num doesn't understand how grammar works, just ignores it. Num-Num embarrasses himself on a regular basis by proving why he shouldn't be an editor. He tends to replace correct grammar with incorrect grammar.
- Doesn't care what words mean: Num-Num doesn't realize that he's on the internet and can look up any word he doesn't know.
- Edits 20 articles in 10 minutes: Num-Num doesn't even try to make it look like he gives a shit.
- Edits partially: Num-Num only capitalizes the “I”s in a work. Gets bored quickly and ignores everything else.
- Just does whatevs: Num-Num is totally cool with you adding a category called "penispenispenis" to your Jeff the Killer knock-off, just let him fix all those lowercase “I”s.
- Expects others to teach him/ Has no desire to become better: Num-Num wants to edit, but it's up to you to teach him. Or, he continues to make the same mistakes over and over again.
- Edits to earn badges/points, to earn user rights just because he wants them or because he lives in a bizarro world where internet wikia editors are considered cool: Num-Num's editing is driven by quantity over quality and, possibly, delusion.
The question to ask yourself is are you more of a Blarrgy or a Num-Num? No editor has to be 100% perfect and dedicated to a disturbing degree, but you need to follow the general spirit. Be proficient in the basics, edit carefully and check yourself. If your skills are lacking and you don't care to improve them, don't bother editing. It's a thankless, tedious job.
HOW CAN I BECOME A BETTER EDITOR?
It's not a quick process. If you don't like reading then just stop. Not just because editing is reading, but because to learn to edit you'll need to read. You'll basically be having English class with yourself.
The best was is to read. Not creepypasta, that tends to have a lot of mistakes. Read anything else. National newspapers (local ones are iffy), novels, comics, short stories, magazine articles, whatever. This will help your vocabulary, spelling, grammar and punctuation. When you become familiar with how professional writing looks it'll be easier to notice the difference in works you are editing. This is a lot easier than reading straight instructional material. Though, you'll still probably need some extra help.
Get in the habit of writing correctly. Spell correctly, capitalize, punctuate, use correct word forms, etc when you're typing on-line. As you practice, you'll stop translating incorrect writing to correct writing and you'll just start thinking in the proper way to write.
The internet is full of resources for writers. Here are just a few:
American and British English Spelling Differences Endlessly changing UK English to American English is considered unnecessary editing. So, if you're relying on a spellcheck, you better know when to hit ignore.
Creepypasta Wiki Style Guide This is all you really need for the CP Wiki.
Grammar Book Quizzes This site teaches a lot of grammar basics and offers free quizzes to help make sure you have everything down.
Purdue's Online Writing Lab This is a fairly advanced and in-depth site. You won't need most of what's covered on this site, but it's there if you need it.
List of Commonly Misused English Words Know what you're saying.
Free Rice Not the most useful resource, but it might be good for some. This is a site that asks you questions about various topics and donates rice for every one you get right. The default is vocabulary, but there's also grammar and a lot of other subjects. The higher your level the more difficult the word.
Now, let's see how Blarrgy and Num-Num handle various errors.
Text: Donald, was crying and trying to hide under bed from the fersome crash bandicoot doll. Its useless to hide Crash says your days are nombered.
Num-Num's Edit: Donald, was crying and trying to hide under bed from the fearsome crash bandicoot doll. Its useless to hide Crash says your days are numbered.
Blarrgy's edit: Donald was crying and trying to hide under the bed from the fearsome Crash Bandicoot doll. “It's useless to hide,” Crash says, “your days are numbered.”
Num-Num only fixed spelling in a story that has a lot of other problems. Blarrgy scanned the whole work and fixed grammar and punctuation as well as spelling. Fixing spelling is helpful, but it's not the only thing you should be doing. It reflects badly on you when you fix one or two spelling errors in a piece, but miss half a dozen grammar and punctuation errors.
EDITING CORRECTLY AND USING CONTEXT
Text: The trayter, Dan, has been murdered by Mark the Murderdude. “It must've been one hell of a fight,” said sexy police lady Cindy Cinders to her even sexier date, Dr. OC Selfinsertcharacter ImGonnaBeThatGuy. He glanced at the menu and ordered in impeccable french.
“We will have the poisson and a wine from the late 70s.” He was champing at the bit to eat and then stick it to his date who was still in her skin-tight pleather uniform.
Num-Num's Edit: The trapper, Dan, has been murdered by Mark the Murder-dude. “It must of been one hell of a fight,” said sexy police lady Cindy Cinders to her even sexier date, DR. OC Postconsonantal Tintinnabulation. He glanced at the menu and ordered in impeccable french.
“We will have the poison and a wine from the late 70's.” He was chomping at the bit to eat and then stick it to his date who was still in her skin-tight leather uniform.
He glanced at the menu and ordered in impeccable French, “We will have the poisson and a wine from the late '70s.” He was champing at the bit to eat. Then, he would stick it to his date, still in her skin-tight pleather uniform.
Blarrgy's edit: The traitor, Dan, has been murdered by Mark the Murderdude. “It must have been one hell of a fight,” said the sexy police lady, Cindy Cinders, to her even sexier date, Dr. OC Selfinsertcharacter ImGonnaBeThatGuy.
Way to go, Num-Num, you've made things worse! That's the opposite of good editing! You've just made more work for someone else. This is the problem with spellcheckers, they don't understand context. A spellcheck might tell you that “trayter” is supposed to be “trapper,” but that's not the case. If you're not paying attention you won't even notice.
Likewise, spellcheckers don't know jack about proper grammar. It might tell you “must've” is wrong, but the only close alternative it offers is “mustn't” and that's not right. So, you replace it with “must of” which sounds right, but is incorrect. And poisson, well, that's not right and it looks like poison, so Num-Num changes it. But Num-Num, who orders poison at a restaurant? I mean, besides your mother when she was pregnant with you.
In cases like this, context is very important. It's a French restaurant, so, maybe, poisson is a French word. It is, it means fish. Now, how were you supposed to know that? Well, a google search of “poisson french” answers that question.
Lazy editing can also lead to character names being ruined. Spellcheck doesn't recognize an exotic name like Selfinsertcharacter ImGonnaBeThatGuy and suggests a nonsense alternative. Likewise, it throws an unnecessary hyphen into the moniker Murderdude.
Incorrect editing can also lead to slight changes of meaning. Leather and pleather are two different erotic materials. Formatting a decade as “the 70's” implies that either the decade or techno-punk rocker Carl 70 is the owner of the wine.
Good job, Blarrgy, you paid attention and used your own knowledge to fix this steamy horror thriller. You also made responsible changes to make the text.
Text: “Haw! Haw! Haw! It's pretty dem groovy, if'n you know what I mean.” said crazy old coot. Yes, I thoght, it was, in fact, pretty damn cool. Im gonna friend this crazy old coot later on Facebook.
Num-Num's Edit: “Haha! That's pretty cool, if you know what I mean,” said crazy old coot. Yes, I thought, it was, in fact pretty, damn cool. I'm going to send a friend request to this crazy old coot later on Facebook.
Blarrgy's edit: “Haw! Haw! Haw! It's pretty dem groovy, if'n you know what I mean,” said the crazy old coot. Yes, I thought, it was, in fact, pretty cool. I'm gonna have to friend this crazy old coot on Facebook.
Wipe that grin off your face, Num-Num. I know you think you have one up on Blarrgy. After all, look at those errors. That's not how you spell words!
Well, Num-Num, that's something called style. The writer is using misspelling and dialect to strengthen the voice of their characters. It's a conscious choice they've made and shouldn't be changed. This can also include purposeful errors in the text, technically incorrect word choice and misspellings.
Now, you have to use your own judgement when deciding if something is intentional, a mistake or the product of bad writing. This usually isn't hard. Just look at the rest of the story. Is it well-written? Are the errors consistent? Then it's probably intentional.
There are some things that are almost never intentional (unless the writer is evoking the style of a bad writer, which happens but is rare): its vs. it's mistakes, there, they're and their. Things like that where there's no reason not to use them correctly.
When in doubt: ask the writer. Warning: sometimes the writer is an idiot. Use judgement.
Text: “I hope you realise,” said John, “that this colour will gain you no favour. Now, if you will excuse me. I must take this cheque down to the centre and I shall do it with honour and good humour.” With that, John twirled his cape and left the room. He traveled down the hallway to his private indoor helicopter. The pilot nodded and gave over the controls to John. Together, these best friends traveled through the indoor helicopter tunnels to the centre.
Num-Num's Edit: “I hope you realize,” said John, “that this color will gain you no favor. Now, if you will excuse me. I must take this check down to the center and I shall do it with honor and good humor.” With that, John twirled his cape and left the room.
He traveled down the hallway to his private indoor helicopter. The pilot nodded and gave over the controls to John. Together, these best friends traveled through the indoor helicopter tunnels to the center.
Added category: Death
Blarrgy's edit: NONE.
NUM-NUM, YOU XENOPHOBIC DICKHOLE. Do you not realize that in the United Kingdom they spell some words slightly differently? It's perfectly acceptable and there's nothing in the Creepypasta Wiki style guide that says all spelling must conform to American English. So, your edits are unnecessary and your spellcheck is leading you astray. Also unnecessary: that paragraph break. Sometimes graf breaks are needed, but it's okay if paragraphs are more than four lines.
Unnecessary edits could get you banned if they are all you ever do. Blarrgy will never get banned. Also, don't add uneeded categories,