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New site editors

by vroom (Pope)
on Feb 21, 2001 at 04:32 UTC ( #59807=monkdiscuss: print w/ replies, xml ) Need Help??

I've created a new editors group full of individuals I find worthy of the calling. These are people I feel I can trust and will take the responsibility seriously.

They'll have full edit permission to all writeups. Their editing will largely be doing things to make the site look prettier. Most of which will be getting rid of PRE tags, and adding CODE and READMORE tags as necessary. Most of the editors already point out these problems on the nodes to consider page. Now they'll be able to fix them. Other powers will include moving root nodes between sections, and removing items from view on the frontpage or a section page.

These powers will probably be arriving in the next few days when I get some time to sit down and code.

What about accountability for their actions? The truth is that if I thought I had to worry about the actions of any of the people in the editors group I wouldn't have chosen them. All of the chosen ones have demonstrated a good mix of the following:

  • High level (they've spent enough time and energy here to destroy their playground)
  • Offered help with site operations. This could come in helping with nodes to consider, /msging me with good ideas, good ideas in Perl Monks Discussion, or a variety of different places
  • Offering wisdom, and evenhanded approaches for dealing with the social problems that pop up in the monastery from time to time.

    The editors and I would welcome hearing what you think of the new approach to handling some of the daily drudgery around here. Discuss below.

    vroom | Tim Vroom | vroom@cs.hope.edu

  • Comment on New site editors
    Re: New site editors
    by footpad (Monsignor) on Feb 21, 2001 at 04:42 UTC
      I think this is a very good thing.

      A couple of tiny questions, if I may. Will the editors also be able to:

      • Clear out some of the nodes under consideration? There are many that have mixed voting and should probably be retained. Ideally, I'd like to see the area get "swept out."

      • Do the same sort of investigation you did recently regarding that annoying (and deliberately unlinked) troll we talked about?

      • Update the local copies of the perlfaq's? (I ask because tilly recently pointed me to something in the current perldata that's not in the local copy.)

      --f
    Re: New site editors
    by neshura (Chaplain) on Feb 21, 2001 at 04:58 UTC
      My big concern is accountability -- not that I don't trust fellow editors, just that I believe it is of paramount importance.

      In terms of the technical and social approach to implementing checks and balances on the editing process, I would like to see something along the lines of the following.

      • The node should go "live" immediately on editing
      • If a person's node is edited, they should be autonotified in the chatterbox.
      • If the author feels that the editing has been done in error or with no regard for content/intent, there should be an option easily accessible from that node called "Petition to Restore".
      • When a petition is made (and I imagine this will be quite rare, since the vast majority of edits are due to the newness of the user), at most ONE editor should be required to approve it in order for the node to be restored to its original glory.
        • Point: The original intentions of the poster ought to be given a great deal more weight than the wishes, however well-intentioned, of the editors.
        • Effect: Edits would be essentially an assumed unanimous agreement by the editors group. For a petition to be denied (and an edit permanent), every editor must deny it
        • Why "petition" and not just "restore"? Users who have not bothered to figure out the correct tags to wrap code in will also not bother to figure out what the "Petition to Restore Node" button does before clicking it. And since there will be users that will click it without useful intent, the hard work of the editors should be protected at a minimum level.

      It should also be noted somewhere which editor is responsible for changed nodes as well, so that they may be queried as to the logic behind the changes.

      That is all I have thought of at the moment.

      Update: I should clarify my assumption that for any of the above to work, node-level locking is a required technology. Thanks tye!

      e-mail neshura

        I agree that accountability is important. Perhaps even more important to me is communication so that people know that their node was editted, by who, why, and what to do it they have a problem with it.

        But there are also a lot of practical details to deal with. If each edit is going to generate an automatic /msg and some DB entry recording the change so that it can be undone, then I think we'll have a real problem with 4 editors all changing the same <pre> to <code> at nearly the same time generating a very confusing situation for the author of the node (and probably for the database and site engine as well).

        Don't get me wrong, I really like what neshura has proposed and I think it is important. I'm just trying to analyze it carefully enough so that we have a good chance of a workable implementation. I'm also trying to anticipate how hard different approaches will be for vroom to hack into place and then to get working reliably.

        Then there is the fact that it can sometimes take me 14 rounds of edit and submit before I get my simple change right (not usually, but on rare occasions). I'd hate to be generating 14 "tye editted id 1234" /msg's to some poor monk's inbox and filling the DB with 14 copies of the node.

        For everything but root nodes of unmoderated sections, the "petition for undo" seems nearly (though not completely) pointless since the author could simply edit the node (unless an editor editing a node changes the ownership of the node -- which I would be against since it leads to little problems like the node not showing up in that user's list of nodes, just like happens with Categorize Q+A nodes now]).

        Perhaps much of this can be done, at least at first, with more human work and less automation. For example, I'd be fine with a policy that states that editors should:

        • /msg the author when they change a node
        • include an unobtrusive link (or even HTML comment) at the start of the editting process that just notes which editor is changing the node so that other editors are less likely to duplicate the effort and leave but update the link/comment when done, if nothing else, in case they introduced a typo
        as long as this is augmented by at least a log of which editor changed which node and when. As the process matures and time passes, more automation can be introduced.

                - tye (but my friends call me "Tye")
          Why not just force editors to go through a preview, submit process identical to what people do in normal posts? Until you hit "submit", no message is sent. You can "preview" as much as you want with no visible change other than "being edited by foo"...
    Re: New site editors
    by mikfire (Deacon) on Feb 21, 2001 at 06:22 UTC
      A good idea. I have a few more questions, and possibly some solutions to the at least tye's questions.

      When will an editor be able to edit a node? Maybe we could raise the accountability by allowing editors to edit a node ( and I realize those so listed would probably do this anyway ) only after it has received sufficient "edit" votes in the nodes to consider page.

      When a node is sufficiently marked, an editor could "take ownership" of it and it would disappear from nodes to consider and appear on a special editorial page with the volunteering editor's name associated with it. This would both clear up the nodes to consider ( which is a Good Thing ) and prevent several people from editting the same node simualtaneously.

      I also like neshura's auto-notification. The editors are doing this solely as volunteer work ( unless vroom is paying them off with free perlmonks stuff :) and it should be as easy for them as possible. I can also see a situation where, despite an individual editor's best effort, said editor simple forgets to /msg the author and thereby cause some avoidable hard feelings.

      If this is done, I think it is important that the /msg come from the editor, ie, it appears in the chatterbox as "editor says". The person being editting should know who changed it so they can ask questions of the editor directly.

      Is there going to be a way the person being editted can find out why the node was changed? My understanding is that only monks of certain rank can see the nodes to consider. Feed back is vital here if we hope for anybody to learn what the standards are, especially if it is a user who hasn't figured out to use <code> tags yet.

      I also think tye has a point in that there needs to be a "release" button - I ( although I am not an editor ) also usually need several previews before I get my posts correct enough. When an editor hits the "release" button, the /msg would be fired and the node will be re-instated to previous place ( but not form ). That should also simplify the database - it only needs to remember the before and after images of a node if a restore option is provided.

      Of course, having no real clue of how E2 is coded I have no idea how hard this would be to code.

      Offering my simple 0.02 USD worth,
      mikfire

    (tye)Re2: New site editors
    by tye (Cardinal) on Feb 21, 2001 at 12:12 UTC

      A new wrinkle occurred to me... I'd really like a second "editor" password for each of the editors. This would be one that isn't stored in a cookie (at least not for longer than one editing session) so that editors have to type their second password in each time they go to edit another's node.

      This serves to remind editors of the seriousness of this task. It also prevents someone from borrowing my desktop or stealing my cookie with home-node JavaScript and then kicking off a LWP::UserAgent that munges every node it can find.

      In the mean time, I suggest all editors disable JavaScript (at least for *perlmonks.{org|net|com}) and, if they hadn't disabled it before, change their password. That just seems like way too tempting of a target...

              - tye (but my friends call me "Tye")
        I don't believe that this will be an issue.

        First of all editors will only have permission to do things that have been agreed by several others to need doing. Which limits damage largely to a limited number of nodes right there.

        Secondly any damage done is readily undone. (The same principle that allows Wikis to survive despite having virtually no security checks.)

        Thirdly if an editor ran amok (either through going off the deep end, or through someone stealing a password), it would quickly become both obvious and investigated by vroom.

        Fourth the people who would be in a position to know about and try to take advantage of careless editors are mostly themselves members of this community. So they are people with something to lose.

        Fifth, I could show up as Anonymous Monk and cause vastly wider damage to the commmunity than I could as a rogue editor. Indeed if someone wants to waste energy getting an editor account instead of just causing damage, I think that is a good thing.

        All of that said, I think that turning JavaScript off is a great idea. I turned it off a long time ago from home. I have turned it off from work as well. I don't really want someone else to login and start posting as me or sending nasty chatters...

          I agree that only being able to edit properly "considered" nodes covers the need for a separate password. vroom's "full edit permission to all writeups" made me think that this isn't what is being proposed. My impression of what was being proposed has shifted from "special tools", to full edit of only root nodes of moderated sections after they have been properly "considered", to unfettered edit with accountability, perhaps to full edit of any considered nodes.

          Personally, I'm "on the fence" as to whether full edit should only be allowed after a node has been considered (more power to quickly respond to problems vs. more possible problems with abuse, perceived abuse, or fear of abuse). I guess I'd like whatever vroom wants and could understand him feeling that unfettered editors might make his life easier and/or this site better. But I never would have advocated unfettered editors if I hadn't first gotten the impression that vroom wanted it.

          Update: Another option occurred to me. Perhaps editors could edit root nodes of moderated sections without them having to be considered first (since this is really where most of the problems lie) but could only edit non-root nodes (that is, nodes that the author is already allowed to edit) after conderation and voting. I think I prefer this idea.

          So, I guess that needs to be decided. I leave that decision to vroom but think he'd appreciate feedback on how other monks feel about it. Anyone who has a simple opinion on this and doesn't want to post a node on it, feel free to /msg me and I'll add your vote to this node (anonymously, if you prefer). Or a poll on something like this might be in order at some point.

          As for other editor powers, here are some I'd like to see, most of them mentioned by others. I think editors should have the ability to

          • unapprove and unfrontpage nodes (and it occurs to me now that at some point we may want to make an "editor unapprove" such that it can't be undone by the regular "approve" process given the concern over recent approving and frontpaging of questionable nodes)
          • move root nodes to other sections
          • move replies to be under another node (for duplicates where there are replies to both nodes)
          • mark a node as "in transit" such that no replies to it can be started and informing the editor of who has already started a reply and when (all replies now go through the same "comment on" code, so this should be possible -- though some work may be required to disable submission of hand-rolled replies that skip this "comment on" code); if this feature takes longer to come to be, I understand (:
          • "Clear" nodes from Nodes to Consider and Editor Requests. BTW, I think these two serve different purposes and both deserve to remain in use. If we go with fettered editors, perhaps Editor Requests could be enhanced such that "joemonk" can give editors permission to edit or delete "joemonk"s nodes by making a Request (allowing "joemonk" to put his own nodes up for consideration would also be an option [though not having to vote for such cases makes more sense to me] as long as it became possible to submit multiple requests for consideration of the same node -- a feature I'd like to see anyway so opposing comments can be added to Nodes to Consider).
          • Read-only access to any node's source text. With unfettered editors, this could be done "by hand". With fettered editors, the example goes like this: A really ugly question is posted. The node gets considered and voted on and an editor wants to update it. During this time (or even a while afterward), the new monk posts 3 new versions of the question, each with a little bit better formatting but also including correction to content. Either the "final" version of the question still isn't perfect or the first version has already been voted into the "edit" category and so became quite hard to vote into the "delete" category (which means we may want to let level 6 monks "change their vote" on Nodes to Consider), so the editor wants to take the best of the information from the "final" version and put it into the first version that will be kept. We can all cut'n'paste the rendered version but you'll lose several key sets of properties. So editors (and perhaps everyone, for that matter), should have a way to cut'n'paste the "source text" for a node.
          All of the above powers I think should be available without the need for a node to be considered and voted on. And I think all actions by editors should be logged and everyone should at least be able to view all log entries that apply to their own nodes (including which editor did it and when).

          One power that I think editors should not have is "delete". I think the current method of deleting "bad" nodes is better, though I'd probably allow nodes with a reputation of zero to be reaped to prevent the need for downvotes on duplicates. And/or the above-mentioned enhancement to allow a person to request that their own node be reaped (perhaps via Editor Requests) would be nice.

          One little technical nit: Editors need to be able to edit nodes that won't even display properly on their browser. It is still possible to compose a node that has unmatched HTML tags such that all of the edit forms below it are useless. At least for some browsers, I think you can even prevent the entire page from rendering.

                  - tye (but my friends call me "Tye")

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