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Editing is a powerful term in a digital commons. In a traditional print environment, with conventions of possessive authorship in force, editors are the actors behind the scene, behind the title page, who shape up the author's text for publication — they suggest revisions, call for clarification, cut redundancies and verbiage, correct spelling and grammar, they make the text conform to a style sheet for handling the niggling details, they oversee the proofing of printer's galleys, they orchestrate the distribution and marketing of the text. In a digital commons, the possessive author largely disappears and the writer becomes many contributors and collaborators and the process of writing merges into that of editing. "Editing" becomes the term describing the whole process from originating the idea for a text, to thinking up its parts while drafting them, to doing all the things that must be done to prepare a work for reception by readers, and to revising it continually as the responsive reader becomes active editor in turn. The text no longer gets fixed; it comes alive through the creative editing invested in it and it dies when no one cares to read and edit it anew.
To engage in editing in a digital commons, one needs working know-how in three three relatively distinct areas — techniques of entering and formatting test and images for the MediaWiki platform (markup); the style conventions adopted for the presentation of material on StudyPlace (style); and the collaboration procedures devised to make self-directing interactions in a commons produce worthwhile results (procedure). On StudyPlace, markup is almost wholly determined by the constraints and affordances of MediaWiki as they have been developed for Wikipedia. On StudyPlace, style is largely adopted through the Manual of Style developed for Wikipedia with a few emerging points of difference owing to the differences of intent between the two sites. On StudyPlace, procedure has familial similarities to the procedures on Wikipedia as both aim to develop a digital commons, but distinct differences emerge for the purposes served by the procedures are not the same.
You can edit most text, inserting images and other media, knowing how to do a few simple markup operations, which the Wikipedia Cheatsheet clearly indicates. Try these out in the Sandbox or on your User page. You can quickly become confident in the use of these and they will suffice for the great majority of editing work that you will do, even as someone quite active in the diverse forms of editing.
For more on markup:
- Editing, intermediate — The Wikipedia editing tutorial introduces editing fully and for experienced editors is useful in jogging the memory about how to achieve one or another result.
- Editing, advanced: This entry gives a full discussion of editing on Wikipedia. Note the right hand sidebar — it is good guide to advanced help on all markup topics.
- Editing, techniques: A full presentation of basic markup techniques is How to edit a page.
- Footnoting will be important to many editors and MediaWiki includes an excellent tool for doing it simply and effectively. Let's use it.
- For help on links. . . . A peer-produced digital commons thrives on links; they give it life.
- For help on images and media. . . .
- The Wikipedia manual of style defines on many questions of presentation and copy-editing. Let us follow it on StudyPlace until we encounter a concrete reason to depart from it.
- The Wikipedia guide to layout is very helpful in constructing articles, particularly for Wiki-ed.
- If editors need to argue about style issues, the 15th edition of The Chicago Manual of Style should stand as a normative reference, as should Bryan A. Garner's Modern American Usage (online short version @ CU) for questions of usage.
- Help:New articles discusses potential procedures for starting and developing new articles on StudyPlace in ways that will led to strong intellectual results. These concern an important way in which the process of peer production on StudyPlace differs from the process on Wikipedia.
- Although the Wikipedia guide to writing better articles is most pertinent to work on Wiki-ed, it has advice that will prove useful throughout StudyPlace.
- For conversations on StudyPlace, as well as for commenting on articles and their context pages and for using talk pages, Wikipedia's talk page guidelines are very helpful, especially the section on technical and format standards. These are conventions that will help make StudyPlace effective in online conversational interactions using MediaWiki.