Out there with these natives it must be a temptation to be God.
'Cause there's a conflict in every human heart
between the rational, the irrational, between good and evil.
And good does not always triumph.

General Corman, Apocalypse Now




True Confessions of a Content Editor




Other Tasks

Note to newbies: if you haven't read E2 FAQ: What NOT to do, go read that now.

Adventures in Metanoding

War on Iraq 2003 recently became my first writeup to go over 100 reputation. I feel somewhat conflicted about this. I would prefer that my highest rep writeup be something else, but there it is. Since metanodes are often poorly done, incomplete, or not maintained well, they belong to a disreputable class of writeups, like daylogs. When I got into the metanode game in 2002 --see War on Iraq 2002-- it was just a joke. In the Chatterbox, somebody remarked on the number of writeups on Iraq: "Any minute now someone will post the War on Iraq Metanode." So I did it. Immediately, however, administrators jumped on it and suggested a name change. It lost the redundant "metanode" and acquired the year, 2002, to distinguish it from the first Gulf War, and several writeups on the topic were moved under my banner so they could be compared and contrasted. I did my best to maintain it and decorate it with formatting and a pertinent little quotation from Mark Twain. As it became increasingly clear that we actually were going to invade, I started a fresh metanode with the arbitrary cut off date of January 1, 2003. This became a central reference point for the swirling mass of writeups that flooded in. Tempers flared, rants were posted, deleted and resurrected. I would get a message to post a link, post it, and then log on an hour later to see a message advising me that the writeup was gone. I tried to "annotate" the relevant daylogs (because the subject of a daylog does not appear in its title) but when the invasion actually began, there were more daylogs than I could catalog.

Is it worth it? I think so. I'm not sure I think it is necessary to cut-and-paste historic documents (like UN Security Council Resolutions) which are readily available elsewhere, but if we are going to allow them, they ought to be metanoded. A "current events" metanode lets the noders see what has already been written, avoid duplication and contribute something new. It highlights the gaps in E2 coverage and thus suggests topics to research and writeup. If it's maintained objectively, at least daily, it becomes almost as useful as a news website, and given the writing talent in this community, a heck of lot more entertaining.

On Metanodes

E2 doesn't facilitate debate, dialogue, and conversation. Conversation and verbal contests are potentially infinite (but usually ephemeral) events, not stand-alone constructs or artifacts. E2's site software lacks the appropriate structure, and the site philosophy favors a finished written "product" over language "events". The Chatterbox is a side-show and deliberately de-emphasized. Of course, some writing products have a dialectic form: The Dialogues of Plato, dialogue in a novel or play. Unlike informal chat and formal debate, however, such dialogue is frozen in time and fragmentary.

The primary E2 metaphor is spatial --an area or expanse-- not temporal. It's a territory or real estate, if you will, mostly vacant, upon which a city is being constructed. Yes, there are old sections of town and new, but the age of writeups is secondary to the topoi, the loci or the "place" they occupy.

It should therefore come as no surprise that noders find the urge to make maps irresistible. We call such a map a "metanode". Follow that last link to knifegirl's comments on the matter. Here are the high points:

  • Every node is a metanode.
  • Metanodes require regular maintenance.
  • No one owns a metanode.

I have to agree that properly linked writeups do, in some sense, constitute a "metanode", but I'm using the term to describe writeups which try to give you an up-to-date satellite photo of the nodegel. Also, several usergroups, like e2religion, e2science and recipes, maintain some lists or indices which could be called "metanodes", but I think individual noders should set their sights higher. The very best metanodes go beyond merely listing and somehow present or comment about other nodes in a way that adds meaning.

Since the landscape of E2 is constantly changing, a "metanode" worthy of the name has to be maintained regularly. For a metanode on current events, that means checking for new writeups daily at minimum, and ideally every hour. If you don't, someone else may supercede it with a more complete set of links, and yours should be deleted.

Metanode Do's and Don'ts

  • DON'T use the word "metanode" in the title.
    The Metanode Destruction Team has not got around to superceding all the writeups with the word "metanode" in the title, so you can still find some. Rest assured, however, that any new titles submitted containing the word "metanode" will be swiftly intercepted and deleted or modified by the Powers That Be. If you tried to submit The Webster 1913 Sounding Like Bill and Ted's Excellent Adventure Metanode today, the e2gods would probably insist you call it something like Webster 1913 Sounding Like Bill and Ted's Excellent Adventure.
  • DON'T even THINK about the Metanode Metanode.
  • DO link every relevant writeup, good or bad
    Your list of "only the very best nodes about Model Railroading" goes on your homenode. (If I find a "best of" collection dressed up as a metanode, I will nuke it.) It's quasi-fraudulent and bad form to leave relevant writeups out of a metanode. If it was good enough to survive as an E2 writeup, it belongs in your map of E2. This is especially true when the topic is politics. Take a look at War on Iraq 2003 and imagine the fuss if I had decided that all the anti-war writeups were not "good enough" to be listed.
  • DO think twice before starting a metanode.
    Do your homework first, and collect a lot of links.

DAMN it feels good to be a metanode

Don't just slap unordered list tags on your list of hardlinks: annotate.

You can even write your metanode as prose with embedded links. George W. Bush Metanode, for example. Another example of prose with embedded links is Zombie by Xamot ("A Zombified Meta Node"). These are clever. On the downside, these prose metanodes look really difficult to maintain, and are unlikely to be useful as a current map or satellite photo of the state of the nodegel.

Some exemplary "annotated" metanodes (when lists of links just aren't enough):

  • Songs with Subjunctive Abuse: Sometimes the affront to grammar is in the title (What if God was One of Us?) but sometimes it is buried in the lyrics, like the Door's Light My Fire: ("If I was to say to you girl we couldn't get much higher"). Either way, this metanode prominently displays the offending title or lyric.
  • Lessons Learned the Hard Way: here the comments aren't absolutely necessary, but they are entertaining. This one is hardly comprehensive, as the softlinks demonstrate, but it's still pretty good.
  • United States Military Ranks: This isn't really a metanode, but a good example of how a list can be organized to convey data. Note how pylon organizes his lists of ranks by pay grade, which allows you to compare the ranks used in different branches of the armed services, e.g. an army "Colonel" is the equivalent of a Navy "Captain", whereas an Army "Captain" is the equivalent of a Navy "Lieutenant".

A brief PSA from the anal-retentive English teacher who lives in fab's forebrain and the Militant Grammarians of Massachusetts:

APOSTROPHE does not mean "LOOK OUT! Here comes an S!"


    Node, I entreat you!
  • NODED! by isogolem: the seminal mid-80s film Footloose
  • the contemporary beverage and eponymous luche libre wrestler Orange Crush deserves a better WU



Because Apatrix made a very good point last month about The Everything Editor's Job, I'm going to include my noding activities in my edlogs for a bit, in the hopes that making such things even more public will motivate/inspire me into writing more. My goal for this month is a minimum of one writeup per week, not counting this editor log, dreamlogs, or daylogs. Stupid LiveJournal, stealing all my noding time last month...


As always, I promise to sign all of my Klaproth messages and talk to users about deletions whenever possible (although the latter clearly isn't very feasible with regard to users who have been absent from the site for more than a year). Anybody who doesn't want their writeups appearing in my editor logs should feel free to /msg me and I will remove all record of the deletion.

  • Greenpeace (thing) by Jet-Poop because I asked nicely and got permission (it was pretty thoroughly superseded by smileloki's new writeup at that node, too).
  • Greenpeace (idea) by DMan because it was a misspelled rant and writeup should not mean reply. User has not been on e2 in 1.4 years, so I can't really ask for a rewrite either.
  • Greenpeace (thing) by ja son because it was a misspelled rant and the author hasn't been around in 2.4 years so I can't ask for a rewrite.
  • lying next to someone at night (idea) by Yablo because I asked the author to fix the spelling and capitalization months ago, and my request was ignored or given ruder replies. Klaproth says she wouldn't eat a corrected version, although the node in question is softlocked and the author has been gone for over 3 months.
  • Musicians having to work for a living (idea) by nightcoder because it was a misspelled, unformatted rant, and the author hasn't been around in over a year so I can't ask for corrections. A fled user audit may be in order, but in any case I filed a nodeshell deletion request on the title.
  • April 9, 2003 (idea) by izubachi so it could be moved to National Day of Silence.
  • Panama hat (thing) by Bad Loser because it was a reply to Webster1913's entry and superseded by GrouchyOldMan's entry. Bad Loser has not been seen in over a year; another audit maybe?

Editor Cooled


As always, I prefer to /msg users about typos and formatting problems in their writeups, Typo Death Squad-style. However, I will make exceptions in the case of users who haven't been seen on e2 in 3 or more months, and a select few crazy kids who've given me carte blanche to muck with their writeups in a spirit of improvement (the latter don't get written up here, for the most part, although I do send them the occasional loving snide remark about their spelling and punctuation). I try to always /msg users whose writeups I correct, and I usually make a record of such changes here as well. ALSO! If I send you a /msg about a typo in one of your writeups, double-check it for others that I may have overlooked. Chances are I was skimming and plan to reread it when I upvote/C! it, Typo Death Squad-style.

  • Typos and formatting in zombie by Exquisitor (user has not been seen in 2.4 years)
  • Added a note to April 9, 2003 by izubachi explaining why the writeup had been deleted (not really relevant anymore, but useful at the time so people wouldn't think I was being an evil censor or something, especially what with daylogs being pretty much off-limits and all).
  • Typos and formatting in perdedor's distinguished monkey (user has not been on in >11 months).
  • Typos and formatting in The Wicker Man by holloway (user has not been on in 2.6 months).
  • Typos and formatting in until you die, it's all life (idea) by Mad Matt. User has not been seen on e2 in over 1 year.
  • Typo in iBook by schwa, who has not been on e2 in over 3 months.
  • Typos and formatting in Redistribution of Wealth by deep thought, who has not been on e2 in a year and a half.
  • Typos and formatting in Thrift Store by so sorry, who has not been on e2 in over a year. I should do some fled user audits, but I'm feeling lazy at the moment.
  • Typos and formatting in kuji-in by Brother Bayushi, who has not been on e2 in over 2 years. Thanks go out to shro0m for first /msging the author about these typos and then pointing them out to me. Also I fixed some typos and formatting in kuji-in by Neuromantic because I was on a roll, but now I'm trying to talk to that user (who has been seen on e2 recently) about other confusing issues in that writeup.
  • Typos and minor formatting in Motorola by g_braad, who has not been online in >3 months.
  • Typos and formatting in Bikini or Thong? by Pure_Doxyk, who has not been on e2 in over 2 years.
  • Typos and formatting in Ba'ath Party by futurehog, who has not been on e2 in over 6 months.
  • Typos and formatting in Yojimbo by sensei, although it felt like sacrilege to mess with the text of so venerated a user.


Happy April.


Some two-liner nodes of mine, gotta dust every so often...Cleaning out one-liner Ed Logs:
July 25th 2001July 7th 2001May 6th 2001June 23rd 2001June 7th 2001June 12th 2001July 15th 2001June 4th 2001May 22nd 2001




I became a CE in September 2001, after having had an E2 account for about five months. That made my ascent to the Power Structure (uh-huh, huh-huh-huh, he said "power") a rapid one compared to that of most editors.

At the time I was a sworn adherent and evangelist of the raised-bar factual noding doctrine. I'd been given much encouragement and praise by the Powers That Be. I was held up as a model of the Modern Factnoder. Yeah, me, a poster boy (cue raucous laugh from audience). My "personal" nodes were far and few and laced with tasty facts. I had, and still have, no part in GTKYs. Apart from a literature translation project, my writeup list largely looked like the cross-section of an encyclopaedia. Then I was asked to serve as an editor and accepted the call.

I was unprepared.

There were older and wiser people around, and I'd been entrusted with reviewing their work. While I was not totally inexperienced as an editor for common wordmongers, I lacked appreciation for some styles of noding that were in decline but were far from being without merit. You need to understand what you're editing, and Nuke What You Know. That was a lesson to be learned.

It's also easily said when you're a chief with a lot of scalps hanging around your teepee. We're not all born with that wisdom and usually acquire it only with experience. Since those early days I've changed, as has E2. My editorial style has become more mellow and forgiving, my noding style more direct and personal. Some of the editors will have noticed that my kill count is staggering by most peoples standards. This is largely due to my past work, when I was a very active hunter of junk, which we did, objectively, have lots of. My numbers are not something a new editor should aspire towards reaching.

Soon after I started out as an editor I realised that I needed to understand E2 content better, and especially that which did not conform to my dogmatic encyclopaedist ideal. And, friends, there's only one way to do it and that's to node it. On a whim, I wrote a piece of fiction and posted it. I think it's rated +6 now and took over a year to get a C!. It's pretty far from brilliant but I'm keeping it--there is more to E2 writing than riverrun and Demeter. Then I filled a junkpile nodeshell--another thing that should be on one's to-do list but that was also spontaneous. By writing and posting them--and some more thought-out stuff later--I gained the experience and understanding of noding original fiction on E2.

I used to boast that I'd never be caught noding lyrics. Of course one day I had to turn around and eat my words. While I'm still really ambivalent about the worth in noding bare lyrics, I have discovered that you can take someone else's words and turn them into something of your own. Others use them as a backdrop to stories, I normally use the lyric as the centrepiece. Both ways work. A level 1 newbie showed me how to node lyrics--by noding a lyric in true style. I had to follow so that I could understand.

Then there are the much maligned day logs, another thing that I scornfully dismissed on multiple occasions. They're not really subject to editorial quality control and many debates have been held on the subject of their value to the database. One day I had something to say that, by its nature, belonged in a day log, so I climbed off my high horse, ate my serving of corvine flesh, and noded a humble day log. I have written, to date, seven more and, while daylogs are generally over-voted on, their average reputation is more than double my average writeup rep. This I take to mean that I'm a passable daylogger. Were I not, I'd personally blast 'em into a fine radioactive powder. So there it is... If you don't like day logs as they are, do what we did with everything else: raise the bar. By writing day logs I gained an understanding of their value and role on E2.

I continue to expand my horizons as a noder. I continue to learn as an editor.

As content editors it's appropriate and useful to have a thorough understanding of the content we've been put in charge of and be careful when evaluating that content whose nature and creative process we don't grok. Even if it sticks out as tripe in your eyes, think twice before doing anything with it.

I suppose a lot of this is overexplicating the concept of don't knock it before you've tried it.

Experience noding

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