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A DAY IN THE LIFE OF AN EDITOR

There's talk now and then about what kind of folks we Editors be. Are we omnipotent beings who stare down at hapless noders from some lofty domain, our fingers poised over the nuke button ... or are we, in truth, just everyday, ordinary people who aren't too far removed from the general populace? In order to shed some light on the speculation, I hereby offer a blow-by-blow account of a typical weekday in this Editor's life.

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05.50: Alarm goes off. Stagger out of bed, step on puddle of sick thoughtfully left by one of the cats. Though groggy, register annoyance. Will clean that up later. Wish Tom good morning, even though he's asleep and dead to the world. Notice cats waking up and eyeing me suspiciously.

06.00: Step into shower. Fumble with water knob that needs fixing, as soon as I get around to it. Shower and attempt to wake up.

06:30: Emerge from shower, dry off, apply deodorant, gel hair into place, and finish up. As Dolly Parton says, “It ain't easy lookin' this cheap.” Back to bedroom and dress. Kiss Tom goodbye and suggest, as always, that he GET UP in order to get to work on time (for a change).

06.50: Stumble downstairs. Get chased by cats. Take vitamins, put out food for cats, kill ants on kitchen counter, and leave for work. Struggle with sticky lock on car.

07.00: Drive to work, despite repeated attempts by slow-ass drivers to prevent arrival. Get there just the same and park in my customary spot on the 5th floor of the garage.

07.30: Arrive at desk, wait 15-20 minutes for slower-than-sin laptop to boot up. Annoy co-workers with the morning's rant and pull up the ticket queue. Get badly-needed cup of coffee.

08.00 – 11.00: Work tickets, including those left by “ business partners" who can't seem to provide any useful information that might enable me to diagnose their problem. Rant some more. Get 2nd cup of coffee.

11.00: Lunch. Head downstairs to see what is today's overly starchy and fatty offering in the cafeteria. Look at said offering and wonder, as I do every time, what the hell is this shit? Abandon attempt to find decent food and settle for cheeseburger and fries.

12.00: Return to desk. Check schedule for any pointless meetings. Attend pointless meetings. Remember the days when I could access E2 from work, before it was blocked (SECURITY RISK!! due to, of all things, the catbox.)

13.00: Return to desk again. Rant at co-workers some more while working tickets. Attempt to remain awake while working on documentation. Get first of many diet Mountain Dews.

14.00: Attend another pointless meeting. Stop on way back for another diet Mountain Dew. Call Tom and get orders for the day. Check ticket queue.

15.30: Take “emergency” ticket from the queue. Discover that said ticket will require more than the half-hour left in my day to finish. Call user and have unintelligible conversation. Joy.

16.45: Leave work at last. Drive home and attempt to remain conscious while so doing. Search in vain for decent music on the radio.

17.15: Arrive home. Get mail. Get chased by cats until I put more food down and clean litter boxes.

17.30: Make pot of badly-needed coffee. Fend off cats and head down to basement with cup, and boot up systems. Settle back and relax at last, light pipe, sip coffee.

17.40: Sign on to E2 and other websites. Read and vote and discharge editorial duties, mostly fixing typos in writeups and answering noder questions. Watch catbox and attempt to understand what's being said. Make comments which are usually ignored due to lack of wittiness on my part.

18.30: Greet Tom as he arrives. Figure out what's for dinner. Fix dinner. Get chased by cats. Eat dinner and watch TV (usually a British comedy show). Play with cats (or is that cats play with me?)

20.00: Return to basement and computers. Work on writeups. Get writer's block and go work on radio for a while. Ignore cats banging on basement door, wanting in.

22.00: Switch laundry loads. Back to working on writeups. Banter in catbox. Go upstairs, get second cup of coffee. Get chased by cats ("Boys! Let Daddy have a few minutes quiet time, OK?").

23.30: Tired. Extremely tired. Shut systems down and head upstairs. Get chased by cats on way up to bathroom. Brush teeth, undress, and get ready for bed. Attempt to find spot in bed, already occupied by cats and Tom, in which to lie down. Read for a while.

00.00: (approximately) Lights out. Feel cats jump up into the bed. Go to sleep in preparation to do it all again tomorrow!

Exciting, eh? How was your day . . .

POSTSCRIPT: Upon reading this, a dear friend asked "where I was going with this". I have no idea. Get chased by cats.

POSTSCRIPT #2: The lovely and talented chras4 suggests, for an ending line, "I am a mere mortal like you, however I will not turn away offerings of grapes and ambrosia. Also, a little catnip might prove beneficial."

POSTSCRIPT #3: Alright, so I'm a Gawd now. I still get chased by the cats.

"...your sons and your daughters shall prophesy, and your young men shall see visions, and your old men shall dream dreams"Acts 2:17


In the beginning was Chaos. And Lo, Nate spake unto his brother, saying "There shall be stars, and planets, and those inhabiting them, and they shall want to share geeky stuff", and CmdrTaco replied unto him, "Yes, and we shall create for them a thing of slashes and dots, and there will be much rejoicing". And it was good. Then they spake up afterward, saying "let us make a database of linked information and sundrie writings" and it was so. And they again spake, saying "Let there be gods and demigods, and demons, to rule over the nodegel", and it became as he said. And his brethren said unto him "We should create users, in our image, and they can write everything", and thus were created the noders. And so, in the beginning was Everything made, and it would contain everything.


Everything in the old days

Of course, in these enlightened times, no-one believes that. We know now that the original Everything didn't have nodes as such, each user would carve a writeup onto a rock, and carry it to the "server", which consisted of nate and a bunch of trained apemen, who would organise them in serried ranks, connected by soft links of chewed animal hide and such.

<sterling> "Trained". Hah!
<wertperch> There weren't softlinks, you connected stuff with tendons, and blood trails.
<mordel> wertperch, i think you're being a bit generous calling them "trained apemen"...
<wertperch> They were bloody well trained. dannye was their taskmaster, and ooo, he was a tough one.
<wertperch> dem bones started out as just that, a pile of bones, He was a golem, y'know.
<wertperch> I'm not sure whether this is declassified yet, so don't read it all.
<wertperch> Title edits were a bit of a bugger though.
indigoe is rather intimidated by the idea of a supervising dannye with an improvised Cat o' nine tails.
<mordel> cat5-o-nine
<wertperch> There was nothing improvised about it. He made it himself out of noder's old cats. They had a whip-round.
<wertperch> The donation box was bloody messy, but the remains did make EDB grow into such a strapping borg.

As time went on, paper replaced the unwieldy rocks, and string replaced the messy animal parts, and of course, the rest is history. As opposed to prehistory, of course.

"Everything1"

The first "Everything" differed in many ways from what we have come to know. Each node could contain but two writeups, each with a maximum of 512 characters - noders had to be economical with their words, generally producing one of three effects. Some were great, concise writers who could encapsulate thoughts with brilliant brevity; secondly, some wrote like old-fashioned telegrams; some spread information over a number of nodes, rather like a serial story. For comparison, this paragraph has 512 characters.

There were an unlimited number of softlinks displayed - this led to creations like The Node Linked to Everything, and immensely long lists of links under the writeup. There was no chatterbox, no EDB, no Klaproth, no blab!. There wasn't even an Other Users list, instead there was Everything Finger. It was crude, but it was scintilatting. There was a degree of anarchy, but there was brilliance too - poets surfaced, factnoders filled the endless gaps - sometimes brilliantly, sometimes not.

In time, as The E2 Backstory tells us, there was a desire to change, to improve. To make money. What we now as Everything2 was born.

A New Hope

November 13, 1999 was the date. No more the 512 limit. No more the endless lists of softlinks - the number of links shown was limited. There were however many other improvements, and they grew and they grew. The Chatterbox, and to help keep it under control, the Everything Death Borg. For a while, there were paid staff, in the hopes that E2 would become the new Slashdot. What grew instead was a community that wrote, read, played and met together. In time, other enhancements would follow - Klaproth would tell you if one of your writeups was "nuked", and why. The bar was raised some - the one-liners that at one time were acceptable, were now considered too weak. The Content Rescue Team was founded to improve the quality and range of factual information, other writers took the lead in extending assistance to others, others led by example.

There have been so many changes, some technical, some social - the site doesn't go down for updates and maintenance every morning as it used to; no more Word Galaxy for up to an hour. The site is faster, we get multiple C! on writeups, whereas there used to be just one. The editorial staff became more communicative, and nowadays the whole userbase seems to be giving more feedback (something that is dear to me), but there were problems that remained unresolved in some people's minds. Issues relating to copyright and the "raising of the bar" were among those. The Honor Roll was briefly a contentious issue, giving faster advancement to "better" writers, but for all the benefits, it's still seen as overcomplicated by many.

Now, we are faced with new challenges. User numbers are down, well down on their peak, when you could see eighty or a hundred online at any time. The number of new writeups has declined, and some days we have a net loss of writeups. Some high-profile users have fled, in many cases taking their writing with them. Many suggestions have been made, and the E2 we see today is generally gentler and better than the E2 of 6-odd years ago, when I joined up. It's not perfect, it may never be. Many people have come forward with their criticisms, new ideas and "quick fixes" - there have been polls, forums and debates among us all, and some have accused the admin team of being indecisive and doing nothing.

Recently, many of you will have noticed that Dann, having filled his legendary notebook with noder's comments, has posted an E2 Community Development Newsletter, setting out realistic goals for E2, which include the long-awaited image support, the ability to remove one's own work, or to post it as Public Domain and the like, allowing others to use noder's material outside of E2.

I'm not going to cover all that ground again - for one thing, Dann expressed it far better than I could. What I am going to say is that this represents the combined ideas of possibly hundreds of people who are committed to making E2 grow, not just in terms of numbers, but in community, enjoyment and the craft of writing.

That's what has been keeping me here for so long - something built by a few, steered by many, headed for the stars. You may not believe that anything will improve; after all, haven't we heard similar promises before and seen them come to naught? Am I being overly optimistic? Maybe, but it has to be better than banging rocks together.


Footnote: To the Future

<Simulacron3> Transcendental E2 (enhanced) will allow more social cohesion and collaboration. /anvil will be replaced by /grouphug. All you narcistic selfists are gonna feel so like fish out of water.
<wertperch> I will draw the line at having subdermal implants though, even if it denies me access to the 3d options.
<Simulacron3> We will have guerrilla advertising. You will see E2 pop up in unexpected places. You will have email from Nigeria and promises of more and/or bigger penises.
<Simulacron3> There will be a staff of counselors to help you through the transition.
<wertperch> /egg will be superseded too, but we don;t know by what.




Apatrix says Clearly, /egg must be superseded by /chicken. No question as to which came first.
Many thanks to RoguePoet for highly valuable feedback.

Last Month

Ironically, now that I don't need to write these every month, I have the time to do it. :)

Welcoming new users

Admins can see users who've signed up recently at a glance via a marker in the Other Users nodelet. When I see new noders I pop over to the home node. If there's no admin note to indicate that someone else has done so, I msg them a welcome message. Mine is:

Welcome to e2. Please see E2 FAQ: What is E2? and E2 Quick Start and ask if you need any help.
Other admins use different messages with similar intent. I'd like some feedback (not via a response in this node, please!) from users who have joined us recently. Did you get a welcome message? If so, did it make you feel welcome? Do you think this advice is helpful? What else might have helped you get started?

Announced site changes

We've seen a healthy debate over the announced site improvements, with lots of passion. That's good to see. The admins and edev have been having side debates too. Some of the dissenters on change have made some good points, and I have some concerns myself. But I think we'd all agree that we want to see more users here and more use of the site. For years we've been crying because we had no serious coder support. Now we may have that. The people behind the proposed changes love and support this site. e2 still exists because these people care about it so much. Let's trust them to have the site's best interests in mind. That's not to say we can't argue about direction and implementation ... but let's remember to respect the people behind them.

Content deletion

During the aforementioned debate, Mikebert asked "Remember the tidbit about having negative net writeups some days? Why is that happening, editors?" I've covered deletion in previous ed logs, but here's my perspective at the moment.

I don't fully trust the stats nodelet, it's more than possible that the values are misleading. Lots more things than writeups count as nodes, and this muddies the waters. But let's assume they're more or less correct. Since Mikebert posted, I've been auditing my own work. I have deleted about 36 of my own writeups, and this is my second post in that time. So I'm at about -34 myself! But I did rewrite and vastly improve about a dozen old writeups.

In that time, I've probably deleted around a dozen items by other users, mostly old content that has been superseded. That doesn't count handling and deleting title edit requests and so on. I've also deleted a handful of old and never-activated user accounts, with the intent of making those names available to new users.

I browse the database quite a bit, following soft link chains or looking things up, or trawling for typos. When considering old work for deletion as I browse, I ask myself "If I came to this site for the first time from a search engine, what's my impression?" If I think a writeup is making a poor show, or simply needs an update, I'll deal with it. If the author's no longer an active user, and the writeup's superseded or has a negative reputation, I'll mark it for deletion. If the author's active I often ask for an update. Here's a recent response:

To be honest, I don't really have the motivation to write (or update) stuff for here anymore. Mostly I just log on to get the EKW theme instead of the default one when I'm looking up recipes.
Fair enough. Here I was just asking for an update, so I took no further action. But if I think the writeup reflects badly on e2, and there's no prospect for improvement, I will mark it for deletion. I think that's healthy for e2 and I expect to continue to do that. To my mind the ongoing pruning of older material isn't a problem, it's new content that is not coming in at the rate that we need it.

On 'retirement'

I get so few /msgs now, I feel like the Maytag repairman. I still have the controls, people, don't be afraid to ask me for help.

A plug for my quest

I'm looking for participants for Lost Gems of Yesteryear. Response so far has been a bit slow. C'mon folks, you must have three favourite nodes to nominate.

Next Month

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