Com Theory: The Phantom Edit

OK, you should all have received some general comments (and a grade) from me via email. You will note that I have not included the sort of red pages that you may be used to: that is, there are no close edits. That’s because we will all be taking care of that together. I encourage regular readers of my own blog to jump in an play, too, if you like. The documents are “world-editable.”

(As a side note, I had originally planned to assign editors to chapters, but instead, I encourage you to do what I am going to do, and pick targets for good editing. The one restriction is that you get credit only for editing other people’s chapters, not your own.)

Head over to the Communication Theory wikibook, and pick a chapter not your own. Then change it and save it. Repeat.

How do you change it? That can be both a technical and a non-technical question.

Technical answer:

1. Log in! (If you don’t have an account, start one with your real name so I know who you are.) If you make changes without logging in, you can’t get credit for it. This is not important for people who are visiting from the blog or elsewhere, but for it to help your grade in the class, I need to know who you are.

2. Click on the “edit” tab for the whole page, or on the “edit” link next to the section you want to alter.

3. Make the appropriate changes. If you are wondering about how to do italics or other formatting, you can take a look at appropriate help page.

4. Before you save, be sure to do a one-line description of what you changed — something like “improved wording” or “fixed reference” — to make it easier to figure out what you did.

5. Note: try to save each time you make an edit. This will provide a better record of the changes. In other words, don’t change five things and then save; change one thing, then save. It takes a bit longer, but makes it easier to track.


OK, so maybe you already knew all that. Maybe you were wondering what sort of changes you should make. Any change that improves the text. More specifically, you may consider:

1. Correcting spelling, grammar, or agreement.

1a. Some of the references are a bit of a mess. Make sure that they adhere to APA style.

2. Rewording to make the prose clearer, or more concise. Can you say the same thing in less words.

3. Improving the style: are there sections or sentences that are redundant? Is there a better way of saying something? Is there a way to make the discussion more structured or more interesting?

4. Is something missing? Does the article not include an important point, up to and including an entire section?

5. Should there be hyperlinks to other chapters? To other sections in other chapters? To Wikipedia articles?

6. Is there a copyright free (i.e., public domain) image that might enhance the article? This can be something gathered from public domain materials or generated by you

7. I haven’t decided yet, but you might want to include definition boxes for important concepts.

8. Add substance. This takes way more time, but is potentially the most valuable part. Is a chapter missing something vital? Add it.

NB: If you have a comment about the chapter, but are not quite sure how to change it to reflect this, you can always add to the “talk” page for that chapter. You will see the “discussion” tab at the top. This is also a wiki page, and can also be edited, but it is meant for “meta” discussion among the collective authors. When you put a comment on the talk page, be sure to finish with ~~~~, which will automagically insert your name and the date you left the comment, as a signature.

So how many edits are enough? Good question, and I don’t have a specific number in mind. I am tempted to say “as many as it takes to make the articles perfect, but the that probably has a limit of “infinity.” If you are making more edits than I am, you probably are doing great, if you are making less than I am, you may be OK, if you are making way less than I am, you should be concerned. All of the edits that you will get credit for need to be done by the end of the month of November.


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