Wikipedia is the encyclopedia “anyone can edit,” and as of this writing it’s had nearly 700 million edits — not all of them well-meaning. Sometimes the mischief is directed [...] Mostly, though, it’s predictably uninteresting — shout-outs, profane opinions, keyboard-mashed gibberish — happening thousands of times a day over more than 4 million articles.
But you’ll likely never see any of it. Within minutes if not seconds, bad edits are “reverted,” banished to a seldom-seen revision history. As Wikipedia has grown in size and complexity, so has the task of quality control; today that responsibility falls to a cadre of cleverly programmed robots and “cyborgs” — software-assisted volunteers who spend hours patrolling recent edits. Beneath its calm exterior, Wikipedia is a battlezone, and these are its front lines.
“Wikipedia does not want to risk some rogue editor inventing history. It relies instead on the passion of thousands of people who constantly check on each other and cite books or articles in their footnotes. It’s a fairly sophisticated version of crowd-sourcing, many people providing bits information.
And that process really bothered labor historian Timothy Messer-Kruse. He believed he had the truth, primary documents, right in his hands, but couldn’t shove it past the crowd.”
Just remember: editors matter
Rogue self-publishers have been stuffing the comics sections of the Nook and Kindle online stores with an entirely different kind of graphic novel, turning Barnes & Noble’s flagship device briefly into a “Nookie Tablet.”
It’s a rule of the Internet. Stop editing and moderating, just for a minute, and everything will turn to porn and spam. That seems to have happened on the Nook, and, to a lesser extent, the Kindle.
Self-publishing has turned bookstore shelves from “seller cares” to “buyer beware,” with apparently no guarantees of quality or even that the content is what it says it is. With Barnes & Noble and Amazon apparently abdicating any preemptive editorial control, it’s now a free-for-all online.
Don Paterson, an editor and a poet, claim[s] that “A non-poet can’t do a line-edit on a poem”; it is essential for an editor to be a poet, too.
Michael Schmidt, the editor of Carcanet Press and PN Review, added that the job can be tricky when grappling with the work of someone from a different culture. “If you’re publishing a Zimbabwean poet or a poet from India or New Zealand, they’ll speak a language different from your own,” he said, adding, “This is an issue between genders as well.”
Both these points are slightly disquieting. If only poets can edit the work of another, does that mean that only poets fully comprehend the work?