Mudcat Café message #1465602 The Mudcat Café TM
Thread #77879   Message #1465602
Posted By: Joe Offer
19-Apr-05 - 03:14 PM
Thread Name: BS: Censorship on Mudcat
Subject: RE: BS: Censorship on Mudcat
Oh, that's what Ted was trying to pull. I shoulda known. Very astute, Shambles.

As for Shambles' latest tack, he appears to assume that all editing is wrong, that every letter typed by a Mudcatter is sacrorosanct and must not be changed without the typist's permission. I will agree with him with regards to the sanctity of the text of individual messages, and we follow fairly strict procedures in how we edit messages. If a message violates the rules of conduct stated in the FAQ, we deal with that message in whatever way makes sense at the time. The volunteers who delete or edit messages that violate rules are required to report their actions to Max, Jeff, or Joe for review. Such actions are relatively rare - Max, Jeff, and Joe are usually the ones who handle them, but the volunteers deal with them in certain obvious situations. If you have questions about any of these actions, contact me privately - I'm the one who usually handles public contact - or you can contact Max or Jeff privately. We rarely discuss specific editing actions like this in public, because that just serves to advertise the problem we are trying to eliminate. And no, if somebody posts a personal attack or spam or a racist message, I'm not going to ask his or her permission to remove that message.

Most message editing actions aren't for conduct problems, however - they're simple things, like correcting spelling, format, HTML, or links; or perhaps adding the songwriter's name to lyrics. While we are also a social community and a forum for expression, Mudcat was originally and is still primarily a music information resource, and it is important that the information here is correct. If we were dealing with ten messages a day, perhaps it would be nice to ask a poster if I could correct his HTML or add a songwriter name to the lyrics he posted, but we have thousands of messages posted every day, and that sort of process would be cumbersome.

Here's a good example - Wolfgang's 1997 post of The King of Ballyhooley. I did significant editing of this thread yesterday. There were some mistakes and a missing line in Wolfgang's post, but his incomplete lyrics were incorporated into the Digital Tradition as he posted them. Cleod posted corrections in separate threads in 1998 and 1998, and the threads were missed and the corrections were not incorporated into the lyrics. I moved Cleod's two correction messages into the original lyrics thread, and incorporated the corrections (in bold typeface) into Wolfgang's original lyrics. I posted a message asking for additional corrections and for source information, and copy-pasted Malcolm's tune information from another thread. I crosslinked the other threads on the song, and closed them so that people would post to the main lyrics thread and not split the discussion. Finally, I changed the title of Wolfgang's thread from Lyr ADD to DT Correction, since the primary purpose of the thread is not to correct the Digital Tradition entry.

I suppose I could have asked Wolfgang for permission to do the lyrics correction and the thread title change and the renaming of his message tile category, but I'm sure he wouldn't object. Cleod hasn't posted since 2000, so it would be difficult to contact him/her for permission to combine the two one-message correction threads with the original lyrics thread. It would also be a cumbersome process to contact the originators and posters from the two closed request threads, to obtain their permission to close and redirect "their" threads. In actuality, if we had to get permission to do this sort of editing, we it would be just too complicated; and we wouldn't do it. I think that my editing work has resulted in a thread that gives a good body of information about the song. It took a lot of work to put all that together, but I think the result is valuable - and I think that it is highly unlikely that any of the posters involved will object to the editing. If they have objections, they are free to contact me. Note that the text of the messages involves is intact - except that corrections were added to Wolfgang's lyrics in bold type.

It took me an hour or so to do the editing work on these threads. I think we had seven threads on the song when I started, and I moved things around and condensed them to three. The one primary thread covering all the information we have collected on the song, so I closed the other two so we wouldn't split the discussion.

In this situation and in most editing situations, the process involves indexing and linking information so that is is more useful to our Mudcat community and to outside users. The information itself is rarely changed, although it may be retitled or augmented.

Please note that I am the only one who does this sort of thread consolidation. Max and Jeff do the higher-level technical stuff, but this project of indexing and consolidating information is mostly my bailiwick. The JoeClone volunteers handle little things here and there, but they do major projects like this only under direct supervision.

As for the thread title change Shambles supected, music for 2nd fiddle (or banjo), I checked with Jeff and he examined the thread - as I suspected, the thread title was not edited or changed. It is exactly what the thread originator posted.

I'm sorry, but I cannot take the time to investigate like this every time Shambles suspects that there has been an editorial action. I'll be happy answer questions from posters about their own messages, or from thread originators about the change of title of the threads they originated.

-Joe Offer-

#650, Ted!