Sunday, November 18, 2007

An editorial note

On re-reading my first post on Richard Stallman and trusted computing, I found myself unsatisfied with the way I had represented FSF's position on software copyrights. My first impulse was to fix the text, and indeed I did just that.

The result was even more unsatisfying, not because it was wrong -- as far as I can tell it was better -- but because, even though I clearly noted that I'd made the change, it just didn't fit with my view of what a blog should be.

This is a blog, not a wiki. On a wiki, the edit history is readily available. On a blog, it's not (even to me, as far as I can tell). In this case, I could
  • Quietly change the text. I do this routinely with typos I catch on re-reading, or missing or inconsistent tags, or prose I just don't like. For example, I've tightened up the punchline of Anonymous three-card monte at least twice. But in this case, the change was substantive. Quiet, substantive changes seem out of bounds.
  • Make the change and mark it as such. That's what I originally tried, but that left only my description of the original text, and that didn't seem right, either.
  • Use strikethroughs, italics and such to show the changes explicitly. Frankly, by the time I considered that, I was tired enough not to want to bother with it. It would give the fullest disclosure, but it would also be well down the road of trying to make a blog into a wiki.
So instead I put the text back as best I could and put in a note linking to a later post that (in my opinion) handled the topic better. This seems like a good balance to me, and I think I'll stick with it. Purely editorial changes will continue to go in quietly, in a lame attempt to present myself as a more careful writer than I actually am.

Substantive mis-steps will stay in place [but I may comment on them later --DH 9 Sep 2010]. If a later post or comment adds something significant to an existing post -- whether the existing post is wrong or for some other reason -- I'll try to put in a note the next time I review. Naturally, the backlink feature is useful here as well, but a nice, visible [italicized note] should make things clearer.

That is all. We now return to our regularly scheduled programming.

No comments: