Wednesday 25th of May 2022

Editorial Policy

All posts are edited.

This will come as no surprise to those familiar with Webdiary. No ideological censorship occurs, and the intention is merely to weed out the illegal and offensive, and make the text look consistently formatted and of a high editorial quality. This will no doubt be debated vigorously, and at this point I'll just state my view that this editorial policy will enhance and abet good interactivity between users rather than impede it. We do envisage numerous editors, including bloggers editing their own comments like Margo does with Webdiary.

For anyone not familiar with Webdiary, here is the Webdiary Charter, and here is the Statement of Ethics. Essentially we subscribe to this editorial position still, though with a lot more elbow room, a lot more capacity for people to interact independently of the editors, including the ability to begin your own threads.

But we must remember that the site is for readers as well as contributors.

There will be published on the site eventually a 'Contributor's Guide', which we will ask people to subscribe to as closely as possible, basically to save us work. Here is the document as it stands in draft.

Contributor’s Guide

We will endeavour to edit comments to as professional a standard as possible, but reserve the right to not publish any contribution if it grossly fails to comply with the following.

1. Make every effort to use correct spelling, grammar and punctuation.

2. Don’t use abbreviations or cyber-language.

3. Spell out acronyms in their first usage.

4. Do not use foul language or personal abuse.

5. Do not include slanderous material that is not already on the public record or very well substantiated (we’ll read it with glee but will not publish for legal reasons).

6. A full name and a phone number to substantiate it are required. If you have a genuine reason for anonymity, tell us and provide us with a non-de-plume. We will publish under the pseudonym with ‘name supplied’ in parentheses.

7. Keep it under 500 words for main contributions, and 300 words for comments. Exceptions will be considered on a case-by-case basis.

8. ‘Margo’ (Kingston) has no ‘t’ on the end and unlike the noun ‘labour’, the ‘Labor Party’ has no ‘u’ in it.

These guidelines are not meant to be censors, but are designed to:
• Reduce the workload of editors.
• Minimise legal problems.
• Maintain a professional and accessible site.
• Keep commentators accountable and responsible for their contributions.

These guidelines may be updated over time.

Why Edit Anything?

Why does anything need to be edited?

Because people might use offensive words?

"Offensive" is really a state of mind.

One has to consider, that not all of us are skilled in the way of how to express ourselves appropriately, and the ones who don't know how to just swear, and that's ok because they still have an opinion (just it's their words, they know how to use).

I don't think suppressing anything is productive!

The ones who swear just for the sake of it will be sorted out by the group over time. It takes patience, but they will leave sooner or later, because noone will respond to them!

The ones who swear once in a while (we are Australians and DO swear sometimes) should not be shut out.

Dunno, if you understand what I am trying to say.

And how does 'editing' reduce the workload of Editors? lol

Doesn't it actually increase it?

And if there are 'legal problems', which I certainly would not know anything about, just host the site in North Korea or Russia for instance. Take it out off the country. Just like the Chechnian Rebels do.

Because . . .

Well, I can think of quite a number of reasons.

First, this site is set to continue in the tradition of Webdiary. It is not meant to be a free-for-all. The site is designed to to have something akin to good journalism as its primary content - and almost all good journalism requires some editing.

Second, whilst dissenting views are fine and indeed welcomed, material which is simply posted to disrupt the site should be removed. I'm not going to suggest examples - use your imagination.

Third, almost all sites are edited or moderated - most are just not so up front about it. Journos are used to being edited - the good thing is that you too can become familiar with the editor's pencil and learn to appreciate it, if you give it a chance.

The point is that you can view editing either as censorship or as an attempt to make the contributed material more readable. You choose - you're the ones who've got to live with the perception! I find it incredibly interesting that those who rail against editing generally seem to have a pessimistic view of life!

As far as being offensive is concerned, well, I agree with you - it's a state of mind. Since when do states of mind not matter? All thought and perception is ultimately a state of mind and 'state of mind' is all that matters to most human beings.

Swearing is probably on the low end of offensive, because, as you rightly point out, we're Australians, and justly proud of our language skills in this respect. However, when it's directed as a personal attack it simply detracts from the arguments and can happily be left out. Simple, really. I guess a guideline for borderline material is to consider how it advances the discussion of democracy.

The key mission is to foster the advocacy of democracy and democratic principles. It will always be a matter of debate as to what serves those ends best. I'm glad to see the healthy debate on this issue.

Editing and Your Democracy

I'm with David Browning on this, but also aware of the work it would make for Margo and Hamish.

Good editing makes for better writing, and the facilitated debate is much much better than the free-for-all slanging match.

Hamish, I'm still struggling with thinking about how to use the forum page, and maybe in association with Webdiary. My present post is far too hard to read. I'd like to try posting sections of it using notebook, or some plain text editor. Word just won't work for me on this site.

This website will fail!

I think you people need to get out of your state of mind, having grown up in the Media Industry.

You want to attract people that also think what you think. However, that will not work if you insist on this editing policy you are so used to from the work you have done!

This website and it's wonderful intentions will fail! You will keep talking and talking among yourselves.

It you want to make it work, come off your cross, and walk among us, then you will understand.

More on Editoral Policy

I was just thinking about this "Policy".

"1. Make every effort to use correct spelling, grammar and punctuation?"

So what about the people who make mistakes, but are Australians as well? They still have something to say even though their first language is not English.

They get edited?

Something is wrong here.

Hamish: So every editor in the world is a racist? Just give us a go mate.

Thankful for the Editing

To suggest that Your democracy will fail due to the editing is not only judgmental but also rather foolish.

I for one am put at ease in the knowledge that my limited written communication skills will be edited preventing me from appearing a total twit.

Full Name and Phone Number?

I don't understand:

6. A full name and a phone number to substantiate it are required.

Otherwise, the rules are good.

(What is wrong with the formatting in the Preview facility?)

Open Source Editing?

Wolf, the internet is awash with unedited forums. Why not try an edited one, given that the only one I've come across that is edited (Webdiary) was so much more successful than the run-of-the-mill ones?

Why do you think that wikis are becoming so popular on the internet now? Because they enable editing (by a broader group than on this site). It is editing that can move writing from the ephemeral to something worth re-reading. It would be interesting to see if the editing here can be broadened out a bit -- both in terms of who edits, and how extensive the editing is.

Posting

Bryan, a text editor seems to be the best approach. I use notepad.

We're not completely happy with the way the editing features are working yet. I especially wish I could improve the formatting of the actual comments, but we can't just yet.

Phone Number?

TG Kerr, there's a bit of a thread on the question of full names here.

The phone number bit is outside the 'tradition of Webdiary' (a phrase I fear I'm over-using). That was my own attempt to introduce the ability to verify if necessary if a person was who they say. Bad idea? Maybe. But it would only be used if some reason arose for which we thought an identity was being falsified.

Perhaps a better approach would be for us to only ask, by email, for someone's phone number if some reason arrises. But by this time trust is blown anyway. It's a hard one.

It doesn't matter how we do this there is no avoiding a journey of trust-building between all of the various visitors and users of this site.

Editing and Phone Numbers

Should this site grow as I would wish it does, (its stated aims are commendable), then editing will present a labour problem. I'm sure it will be overcome, just as it is overcome in all serious publications, be they web or print.

The advantages of having contributions edited might be debatable in some people's opinions. Sure, there is an inherent risk of censorship that comes with editing, but if it ever becomes apparent, this site will sink faster than a stone in water.

On the other hand, editing for ease of reading and to prevent libel suits, will ensure that this site will stand a good chance of success. At the end of the day, a site that dedicates itself to the restoration of quality in our democracy is something sorely needed. I think we would mostly agree that those of us that will visit and contribute to it have that uppermost in our thinking.

If we keep the end-game in mind, it will follow that that this particular debate is minor in importance when compared with what we're trying to achieve.

Your phone number? Why not? It's not like they're trying to list your address on the net. If it currently is a silent one, it will more than likely remain silent. I doubt the management here will have the time to make verifying calls in other than the most exceptional of circumstances. They'll be too busy editing.

Well, I'm using a "Name"

Well, I'm using a "name" that may or may not be an approximation of a 'real' name. And I haven't left a phone number, but I'm still commenting.

Besides, I think the notion of having 'conversation' on a weblog is idiotic, since I can't tell whether I'm in a Blog or a Forum. It's much more like writing stuff on a dunny wall, which is where I like to leave my phone number, I guess. QED.

Make it flat.

[I see the Preview isn't showing paragraph breaks, etc., so I will not use it.]

Editing

David Browning you sound like a right prat and a pompous arse (is that swearing or offensive?)

Firstly, I didn't think this was Webdiary or trying to be an, "oh ho ho, pass the port boys its rugger tomorrow!" traditition of some exclusive club (even if it is chaotic).

Secondly: "... whilst dissenting views are fine and indeed welcomed, material which is simply posted to disrupt the site should be removed. I'm not going to suggest examples - use your imagination." Well here it seems you fell into a vat of the first person - the Royal Wee. "Indeed" who are you to say what is acceptable or not? Or should I get permission from mumsy or diddums?

Thirdly: "....the good thing is that you too can become familiar with the editor's pencil and learn to appreciate it, if you give it a chance." Well thank ya messa. Dis boy bin a waitin fo sum of dem de jonalis ta learn me wat i can o canna say. An i's jus a waiting for dat edita's pencil!

So, Petraca, what is your point?

So apart from attacking me, what is your point? You think anyone should be allowed to say anything on this site? That's probably not going to happen! Probably for at least some of the obvious reasons I outlined!

And, by the way, I am not one of the editors, so I have no say over what is editorially acceptable. A bit like you, I have a view, however. So why don't you spend your energy in advocating democracy rather than in pointlessly venting your spleen?

David Browning

My point, dear David, is exactly what I said. However if you need it spelt out then I will reiterate.

Part of your views and points came across to me as being extremely pompous and arrogant in tone if not also substance.

I don't believe that everyone that writes here has your same prognosis on what constitues "civil discussion" or how one can offer an opinion. You have your points of view and how to put them across and others have theirs and are entitled to put them across as freely as possible. Freely - without any one person stamping their own cutural or moral yardstick. That is democracy.

I detest the way debate has gone in Australia with people laying the ground rules, placing parameters (cultural, ethnic, religious, politic and moral) and then saying "OK, now let's have an open debate - but with my rules". I don't know if this was your intention but it certainly seemed that way, especially your school masterish phrase that we can all learn from how journalists do it.

I don't need anyone to teach me how to think, act, write, debate or have an opinion. I learn these things through experience and I use my own filtering methods to sort the chaff from the wheat. But I have ownership over what and how I communicate.

I have an Italian cultural background and at times the words and tone that I use to express myself are different to that of others. But I always respect that others can express themselves in a manner that they feel comfortable with. (Not everyone is a white anglo saxon male with a protestant work ethic.)

Oh! Shit! I can't keep writing like this. Look David, I just found what you said to be the words of another boring Anglo telling me to shut up and conform to what you guys believe is civil language and how one should express oneself. Been there and done that. It only makes for polite conversation at the Doctor's waiting room and for a boring existence. Not for the creation of lively debate, enthusiasm and the feeling that you are making a contribution.

love, love, love

Hey Petraca, take it easy I reckon. You two have barely met.

It's especially when people get prickly and deliberately insulting that I think they should use their real names. You've given me yours by email, which is the minimum we require, but seriously, are you certain that one reason for your anonymity is not so you can be less civil than you might?

For my money though, there is no such thing as an open debate, or even a democratic engagement, without a set of rules. Not a debate of any quality anyway, in my view.

Our rules? Well they did emerge through practice with Margo's Webdiary, so I guess so yes.

Please note that virtually everything, within the law, gets published. If you stick around you just might discover that the rules work well to create a safe, open environment in which to debate end engage.

My last word

Petraca (or should it be Petrarca?), this is getting a bit boring. I'm sure no-one, apart from us two, is that interested in this branch of the debate. So this is my last comment on what you write about this particular facet of the subject.

Seems to me we're actually largely in agreement - apart from one fact. If you want to contribute to this website you're going to be edited. Editing on this site (as outlined in the original blog) is primarily to ensure content is accessible/readable. It is not done to stifle debate, or even to sanitize it. As I understand it, the only censorship is of offensive material and personal abuse - again, read the original blog. Removing such material promotes debate; there are many people who won't take part if abusive/offensive material is allowed to remain. And people taking part in the debate is crucial to the promotion of democracy.

Subjecting your posts to editing is a requirement for participation. Not my rule - I merely suggested some reasons for such a rule!

I totally agree that not all people share my views or prognosis - thank god for that; I' have to go get some new ones if everyone did. I totally agree that anyone is entitled to put whatever point of view across they wish - but they're going to get edited if they do so on this site. Once again, you're plain wrong about the rules being my rules; they're not, I am not an editor!

I couldn't agree more that you don't need anyone to teach you how to think, act, write, etc - in my opinion, you do a good job of that, but I am mystified as to why you think I might think otherwise. As for your Italian cultural background - so what? I am certain not everyone is an Anglo-saxon white male with a protestant work ethic - there's got to be some Catholics out there having some fun, somewhere! But what's with the swamp gum-sized chip about Anglos?

And where have I suggested you shut up or conform to what I believe is civil discussion or language? I don't think you have any idea of what I think civil language is - how could you? You don't know me, and nowhere have I defined what I might believe 'civil language' to be.

I suppose this has been a useful discussion in that your comments have shown that the editors are quite tolerant - and, who knows, maybe you haven't even pushed the boundaries yet. For my part, I think it's past its sell-by date.

So, look, mate, if all you want is a target, someone you think might be an 'anglo', to take potshots at, then on you go. I've got better things to do with my time and I'll be butting out of this one.

Communication is Just the Method

The message is what counts. Have no doubt, I will write things that some of you people will find abhorrent. If it is grammatically correct, and contains no abusive words, then it should stay. Just because you don't like the message doesn't mean you should censor it. I believe that blatantly ridiculous remarks should be removed as well. I'm also firmly of the belief that the originators of this site are so preoccupied with their version of the truth that a dissenting opinion will either be marginalised or excised. Let's try that old Letter to the Editor trick and cry 'Let's see you print this!'.

David Browning and the last word

Dear David, Thank you for responding. I know you said it was your last word but you did ask me a question so I feel I should answer you.

Firstly, well done on picking up on Pertrarca with the second "r". Originally his name was Petraca but then got changed. No one seems to know exactly when or why this happenned.

Yes, we probably are in agreement in most of our sentiments. However I still disagree with you on editing. I just feel that it sanitizes debate and can possibly direct the debate in the direction of the editor's personal viewpoint. Even if this re-direction is done subtley, to me it is still a control on thought and open debate. Having said that I respect your opinions on this subject and I sincerely thank you for having respected mine.

Regarding Anglo's, It's hard to express heartfelt sentiments, experiences, research done and real life examples in such a short space to back up words which are sometime written. Hence the immediacy and (I reiterate words that I have found most Anglos despise) the use of "emotion" and "passion" to put forward my opinions.

You come across as an erudite and open person and I look forward to having vigourous debates against you (and hopefully with you).

Remember that people can still be passionate and have respect for the other person. Your duty is to respect that passion, not to expect everyone to become a clone.

Love, War & Peace

Hamish, my name is Robert Tuppini - so all can see. I don't write to be "deliberately insulting". But neither do I feel that I should be forced to be deliberately inoffensive and ineffective. That is insulting to me.

Often many people have their thoughts and opinions lionised or ridiculed because they showed passion or had a different way of expressing themselves to what is currently held up as the "norm".

The "civil language" to which you allude to Hamish, in many societies (including western democratic ones), is scorned as an anally retentive, emotially repressant form of dialogue that alienates open and personal expression.

I don't say this lightly but I believe that If my fellow Australians who only speak English were, all of a sudden, to became bi-lingual, and were able to have a normal everyday discussion with a Spaniard, a Turk, a French man, an Italian a South American et, al, they would be horrified and offended at every half sentence uttered . And they would be self righteous in their arrogant frailty. Such is the low threshold of free expression in the English language as used within the Ango Saxon culture.

I will never retract from this position I have had too much experience to back it up.

Hamish think about how you have to weigh every word that has a smattering of personal opinion when you talk to a casual acquantaince, or how, even to see a friend is like making a Doctor's appointment - you wouldn't dare disrupt such a rare event by having a rollicking discussion. This is Australia Hamish. A country of people that think it is "bad manners" to talk about sex, politics and religion. A country of people who never wanted to be hassled. Now they just want to make lots of money and continue not be hassled.

As people stifle debate under the flag of psuedo civility, bastards like me will continue to say "you're not normal" to all that try to inflict an inherently debilitating form of expression on those around them.

Editing

This little discussion thread is perhaps an excellent example of what should be edited out. This thread is a personal argument germinated by the first posters opinions which another took exception to.

I hated editing when I first joined the internet world and indeed there are sites which will edit out anything they don't like. However the normal editing by site moderators is simply to remove legally risky mentions, swearing, name calling and dangerous topics (examples: arranging to import anti depressants from overseas, insults, attacks on beliefs and so on). I have no problem with Hamish's editing at all and would not be offended if some of mine is edited out. Sometimes my emotions get the better of me also.

Could I suggest that such arguments be edited out before they develop but give those involved a chance to email each other to sort it out? Or just a simple, "Cool it!" by the editor who will know when these things are developing. As Hamish has done with this, albeit a bit into the thread.

Hamish: Thanks Pegasus. I think I will use your suggested strategy in the future, of emailing the parties and seeing if they don't want to sort it out more privately. I am (despite the accusations of some of the auto-post advocates) extremely reluctant to not-post something. But I'll take your view on board and perhaps over time I will be driven to be a bit more ruthless when it comes to the needlessly argumentative threads. "Thin edge of the wedge," others would cry, and if I was in their shoes, I just know I'd be wondering the same.

RE: Editing

I will just give my 2 cents worth on Editing.

I sometimes listen to the radio and I often hear the talk back hosts saying that if an email has bad grammar, and is not written well that they will not read it. By doing so they often insult those that do not write well.

This bothers me because there are a lot of people, who through no fault of their own, do not have good writing skills. They come from disadvantaged backgrounds and/or schools. To make these people feel bad or to stop them from having a voice just because of their lack of education is hurtful and insulting as many of these people are intelligent and they just havent been taught well or lucky enough to have been born into the same environment as others. Their voices and opinions should still be respected and heard and are just as important.

I know that this type of "editing" would never happen here and the aim is to help these people.

However, problem is that there are some people who's writing crosses the line with regard to insults and if a post is going to be edited (sometimes posts need to be edited as some people have not been afforded respect and therefore have not learnt to be respectful) then there should be a manner of making a notation so that the reader knows that something has been changed.

Otherwise you change a persons persona/message in a covered up way - and that shouldn't be permitted.

Editing

Gee, thanks you peoples for letting me in here. I have a dime's worth of opinion on editing.

I listen. I listened with my two ears to the wireless because there are no wires or strings connected to what comes out of that thing and there is Lawsie or the Jones bloke sprouting off about something, maybe the Commonwealth on the river bank somewhere.
I switch to something like another station to have a say and they won't let me say anything.

I think that is a double negative, and that's editing.
Did radio announcers go to disadvantaged school?
I was hurt. I was hurt so much I let the wireless have it with the closest book I could find. The Bible I think it was. In bits it was all over the floor:
Thou shalt not covet thy neighbours wife.

That sort of editing would not, or would it happen here?
I was crossing the lines when I write, you know the slope card in school. I covered it up with my arm so people couldn't see.
So that is editing.

Editing and Bullying

Len, I did forget to add that then there are always those that are bullies.

I have been bullied by a radio announcer. I have made a formal complaint and have taken it further to the Australian Broadcasing Authority. Bullying shouldn't be allowed. We will see what they say!

Good one Heather

Well said Heather.

I am rather disturbed by this topic. No doubt we have all been censored in various ways in various parts of our lives. So it seems many are predicting it will happen here. I've seen no evidence of that, have any of you? The fact that this thread is here shows how much Hamish is allowing for the moment.

How about before everybody condemns Hamish as being Goebbels clone why not let him do his thing, let the site get going, focus on why we came here and turn our written efforts to that.

What this little thread demonstrates is that we cannot get along, nothing more. We just focus on how we are different rather than how we are alike.

For those that are worried about spelling and grammar, why not try what I do.

Generally, if it a longish post I write it off line in Lotus Word, use the spell check etc and then save a copy on my PC. Then when you go online you simply cut and paste your comments and actually spend your online time reading and thinking rather than defending a position.

I'm Australian born, taught and raised but my english will be slightly different to all of you as I am me. I still haven't figured out the i before e rule exceptions and get it wrong every bloody time.

So, please give our paranoias a collective rest and do some real work. Please!!