Thursday, July 24, 2008

Distributed editing: share ratios and eBay-style feedback combine!

So, back to the distributed publishing question I began to explore in the post Following the Story.

In that post, I explored how crowdsourcing could theoretically provide editorial direction, brainstorming, checks and balances on bias and ethics, an extra eye for catching holes in the story, and even, to some extent, some initial fact checking.

The one thing that I couldn't solve with crowdsourcing was what I described as "flow" editing: rearranging the piece so that it flows better. Editing for writing style and clarity would also fit in here.

Well, crowdsourcing may not solve the problem, but borrowing some concepts from peer-to-peer file sharing sites and the eBay feedback system, I might have a barter-based solution that will address the problem.

In essence, most journalists are trained to edit as well as to write. Some are better at one than the other, but I suspect that most of us enjoy at least a little of both. Imagine a system where users had to maintain a specific edit ratio: for every piece they edit, they earn the right to get a piece edited by someone else. Now add on an eBay feedback system, where writers and editors give feedback on the job they each did. Writers in a rush or with a basic news piece would have to take the first editor who came along, but writers who are working on a feature with which they can take their time could hold out for a really good editor. The rating system would motivate users to do a good job editing (and not be too difficult an editee) because if you don't do a good job, it will be harder and harder to find someone to edit your own work. If that didn't motivate people enough, the edit ratios could be partly weighted by the feedback rating of each user.

What about people who only want to edit, or only want to write? Obviously those people can just hire an editor. But if they want to work within this website, people who only want to edit could sell edit credits to people who only want to write.

And, for those of you who aren't fans of crowdsourcing, a system like this would work for other aspects of the editorial process, such as fact checking and copy editing.

No comments: