my ‘hidden agenda’

Terry writes: Craig, it is not a good thing for the blogmeister – you – to edit posted comments to reflect his own viewpoint.

Regarding Mr. Baird’s tree planting at Lakeview school, when I wrote all those photographers, that’s exactly what I meant.

Changing my words to journalists or Baird’s staff could come back now for an excellent photo op with the minister changed it into something sordid.

In fact, there were no journalists; it was an early Sunday morning. There was one staff member with a camera but the vast majority of photographers were parents taking pictures of their children with their then Member of Parliament.

I enjoy reading your site which brings the Bells Corners story front-and-centre. I realize of course that you have your viewpoint to get out as well about politics and politicians. But you won’t get many postings if you plan to edit them like you did mine. Your friend, Terry

– Thanks for the tongue-lashing, Terry – I deserved it! 🙂

I have no compunction about editing other people’s contributions to this blog, but I agree with you that I have a responsibilty to wield my editor’s blue pencil with care, massaging the form but not the meaning.

I’m glad you brought up the subject – I was waiting for someone to comment on it. I’ve been editing the contributions of the many characters who sustain this blog (I’d like to call it “our blog” but that seems pretentious): Rich, wanderer, TonyL, reidjr, palmtreehugger, Drifter, jellybean, AC, dfg, Proof Sheet, Jay, Lynwood Rez, and all the others.

They must have noticed that I edited their posts, but none of them complained about it or even mentioned it, partly because I don’t believe I’ve changed anything significant.

I see it as giving these people, and everyone else in the community, a voice. The more people who hear them (who read this blog) the bigger their voice.

And people won’t read this blog if it’s full of typos, repetition, unclear meanings, etc. I’m not pointing fingers at anyone in particular. I’m just saying I take my job of ‘quality control’ seriously.

I think contributors like having me clean up their writing – they’re more likely to take the time to express their thoughts if they don’t have to worry about the form of their ideas, just the content.

Who would want to see his or her careless typos in full view of everyone? I also think they like knowing that I’ll remove or modify anything they write that might offend someone too much (career politicians are in another category).

So my main job as editor-in-chief is to make the blog interesting to read – the numbers could fall off quickly if there’s not enough quality control – blog readers want brevity, clarity, good grammar and stimulation. Filler, in the form of excess words/unclear or factually incorrect statements, etc., will piss off readers (as will vulgarity), and they’ll just go somewhere else – there are lots of other ways to waste time!

In other words, my greatest responsibility as ‘blogmeister’ is to the reader and to contributors (collaborators?). This blog could have a larger purpose than providing me with a fun hobby and a few laughs to readers. My goal is to eventually make this a “community blog” with everyone welcome, and multiple blogmeisters entrusted with access to the blog tools.

But fair is fair, so I’ll certainly address your concern. I didn’t mean to put words in your mouth – I was trying to edit for brevity and clarity, but I was also having fun with it, poking fun at politicians who love photo ops and their journalist friends who oblige by filling the community papers with pictures of politicians taking credit for spending our taxes.

I love the mother-of-all-photo-ops coup that RC pulled off just before the election – front page, dusting off his hard hat and looking strong with his sledgehammer, about to strike down the hated Vox (identified by his political team as the issue that bugs BC residents the most)! You have to admire his political smarts! Let’s not let the fact that RC is trying to claim credit where NO credit is due get in the way.

I had you writing They’re still alive too, so the journalists or Baird’s staff could come back now for an excellent photo op with the minister in front of the now much bigger trees. and, if I remember correctly, you wrote something like They’re still alive too, so Baird could come back now for a photo in front of the now much bigger trees.

Sorry, I don’t have your original words since I edit stuff on the fly.

The edited version doesn’t imply that journalists were present at the original planting, but you have a point – as a public figure you don’t want to put Rusty’s nose out of joint.

I’m not trying to weasel out of a mea culpa, so what can I do to make amends?

– change the about page from “I’ll edit for typos, spelling and grammar and also for anything that goes beyond snarky into rude.” to “I’ll edit for typos, spelling, grammar, brevity, clarity and also for anything that goes beyond snarky into rude.”

– change or cut your comments as posted?

– repost your original comments (if you send them in again)?

– apologize to Rusty and the journalists?

– say a whole bunch of Hail Marys or some other form of penance?

– publish a retraction?

– other?

My only “hidden agenda” is to interest readers of this blog and jack up the hits- I couldn’t care less how many readers agree with my biases.

True, I would like to see Team Chiarelli and other career politicians held to account and the electoral system cleaned up, but I’m not delusional enough to think that this blog will bring that about.

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3 Responses to my ‘hidden agenda’

  1. Well frankly it bothered me when you added your comments to the bottom of my comments in italics. However I thought you were merely an idiot perhaps unaware of how these commenting systems typically work. In the larger Internet, if you as editor/writer/contributor have something to say in response to a reader comment, the convention is that you post a comment as a reply to the comment you are responding to. That way there is no doubt as to which words were stated by which author.

    Editing a comment directly is a sign of an internet neophyte.

    The wider internet is also more tolerant of grammar and spelling errors, believing that ideas good or bad should stand on their own. If you start editing posts for content then you will become responsible for potentially all the content on the site. My personal belief is that the editor’s opinion is the last and only word on what is acceptable — but that the implementation of censorship content modification should be limited to replacing the post with something like [This post removed by the editor.”

    But hey — if this is how you want to roll, then it’s really no business of mine. If it bothers me excessively I’ll merely write disparaging things about this blog on my blog — or just stop coming by.

    I will note that there is a problem in the way that many RSS readers resolve your posts. Italics which span multiple paragraphs typically have the italics cut off at the end of the first paragraph — which does make it hard to figure out who is saying what.

    – If you don’t mind I’ll reply right here, in italics, just to be consistent with the way I’ve done it so far.

    I don’t really feel bound by the rules of “how these commenting systems typically work” on other blogs – why can’t I post my response to someone’s comment right away in the same post?

    That’s the way they do it in the letters-to-the-editor section in the Sun. I think most people who post comments here like getting an immediate answer – it shows that I have reflected upon their comments and value their contribution to the blog.

    Don’t forget that the target audience for this blog is the Bells Corners community, not the blogging community. Many of the readers of this blog are older folk who aren’t necessarily computer geeks and have maybe never participated in a blog before. So I’m aiming for a format that will draw them in.

    As for being tolerant of spelling and grammar errors – sure, the language gets massacred everywhere on the internet, but that doesn’t mean we can’t have a higher standard here, since I’m willing to take the time to play editor.

    I don’t think that I’ve been guilty of “censorship” – or even “content moderation,” although I must admit that I did get carried away a bit with Terry’s tree-planting business.

    I’ve also toned down some comments that were a bit too ‘enthusiastic’ to spare people’s feelings or too obscure for anyone to comprehend. For example, if the target was someone other than me, I’d replace your word “idiot” above with something a little gentler.

    But I’ve never turned down anyone’s comment so far.*

    Thanks for the info about italics spanning multiple paragraphs – I hadn’t realized that this was a problem for RSS feeds – I don’t really know much about them. I guess I better find a solution to that problem, as it must be very confusing for the RSS reader if it’s not clear who is saying what.

    In case anyone’s wondering – I haven’t edited Mr. Mackintosh’s comments at all (except to remove the double spaces between sentences, to be consistent with the rest of the blog).

    *Well, just one, and my conscience has been bothering me ever since. So here, finally, I’ll publish, in its entirety and unedited, the only comment that I had rejected so far:

    Glenn Price writes: If your going to have a blog identify yourself in it by name not using some unidentified slang. You seem to have a promblem with Coucillor Charelli , I guess since he was just easily re-elected “life must be a bitch”.

    • wanderer says:

      OUCH! Edit away.

      – I usually make things better with my blue pencil. If I don’t, let me know.

      I try to aim at the conventions of written journalism, but somethings things can be confusing (eg., ‘buses’ vs. ‘busses’), so don’t hesitate to correct me!

  2. wanderer says:

    I think you’re doing an excellent job encouraging interest in Bells Corners, the goings-on, and giving residents a voice. They don’t really have one now, unless they manage to get a letter to the editor accepted and printed.

    You’re not ham-handed in your editing, and I for one appreciate that you correct spelling, punctuation, grammar, etc., so we must both have come from a school where such things were actually taught 🙂

    Keep up the good work. We don’t all have to agree, and comments such as the above must come from a (very funny, but reluctantly edited out. – ed.). Picky, picky!

    – The bigger issue was “censorship” and “content modification” and it’s a valid question.

    You could probably get a letter to the editor printed more easily in the EMC or OttawaThisWeek, since there’s lots of competition for space in the Citizen and the Sun.

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