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The BackpackGearTest.org Bylaws
v. 0609

Appendix 2

The Appendices are provided as detailed explanations and backgrounds of the policies and procedures of BackpackGearTest.org.  Each Appendix contains delineated topic Sections that are not necessarily related.  Appendices are included to provide additional explanations, clarifications, and resources.  They are not required reading, but you may be referred to them if you require further information on a certain subject.  They represent the collected body of knowledge about many topics. 

The Appendices are written and edited by the Moderator Team of BackpackGearTest.org, with contributions gleaned from the email of the BackpackGearTest group.

CONTENTS

Appendix 1 - How BackpackGearTest.org Works
Appendix 2 - Editing
Appendix 3 - About Rules and How to Change Them
Appendix 4 - Test Calls, Test Applications, Newbie Rule
Appendix 5 - The Apprentice Program
Appendix 6 - All About Report Writing
Appendix 7 - A Lesson in Pictures
Appendix 8 - Copyright, Fair Use, and Links Policies

Back to Bylaws


APPENDIX 2 - Editing

CONTENTS

  1. A History of the Edit Process
  2. What makes a good review?
  3. Policy - Projecting
  4. The use of Brand Names such as 'Velcro'
  5. Comment on Member Edits - March 2003
  6. Notes on Editing Policy

1. A History of the Edit Process - Shane Steinkamp, BGT Moderator - June, 2006

The Edit Process used by BackpackGearTest.org has changed over time, and a brief history may help new people understand why we do what we do.

In the beginning, BackpackGearTest.org was a small group of testers functioning entirely on a single Yahoo! Group.  Testers edited each others reports with no organization or guidelines.  This casual proof-reading quickly became unworkable as BackpackGearTest.org grew.  In order to provide some structure, Andrew Priest took on the dual role of List Moderator and Edit Moderator, and from that position guided the editing process.  Members still edited reports, a team of Editors was appointed to handle Owner Reviews, and Monitors were appointed to edit Test Reports.  Any list member, at the time, could also edit reports as time permitted.  Even with this guidance in place, editing by list members was sometimes problematic.  Often more than one member would 'edit' a report, and this caused confusion among new people and veteran testers alike. 

The process has been further formalized so that Owner Reviews are edited only by the Edit Moderator team, and Test Reports are edited only by the appropriate Test Monitor.  This is done under the watchful eye of Andrew, who oversees all this chaos from his position as Chief Edit Moderator.  Members can still provide input on reports, but they must wait for the appropriate Editor or Monitor to provide the official edit first.  Members are still encouraged to comment on content and to ask questions, but for the most part should leave the grammar, spelling, and punctuation to the Editors and Monitors. 

If you would like to become an Editor, you must first serve as a Test Monitor.  To become a Test Monitor, you have to first be an approved tester, and have completed at least two full test series.  If you would like to become a Test Monitor, and you fulfill the criteria, please contact the Moderators.

2. What makes a good review? by Rich Dreher, BGT Tester

What makes a good review? For me, a successful review leaves the reader with a complete and vivid vision of the reviewed item, as well as a sense of the reviewer, i.e., some personality should shine through to illuminate the factoids. If there's an editorial style for reviews to follow, it probably ought to be a journalistic one. As to report structure, the reader should be easily able to skim reviews for what's important to them, and not be forced to, say, read all three thousand words of a lengthy review to find out whether a backpack has a water bladder sleeve.

Because I are an ed-i-tor (at an engineering firm) by day, I would have to set aside my editorial SOP and put on a very different hat (perhaps not the usual tin foil one) to edit gear reviews. In my view, the job should be performed with a light hand. Task 1: eliminate errors and mechanical problems. Task 2: ensure completeness. Task 3. make *suggestions* to improve readability. This last could be breaking up long, confusing sentences (like this one), rearranging the content sequence, advising on expanding (or condensing) certain report sections, etc. Unless someone specifically asked me for an intensive review, or unless a draft review were truly unreadable, I would never presume to hammer someone's writing into my standard technical report framework. (The BackpackGearTest.org qualification process presumably winnows out those who simply cannot write.) This would be both condescending to the author and harmful to the library of BackpackGearTest.org reviews.

As we've discovered, there are surprisingly few definitive English grammatical rules, particularly as applied to structure and punctuation. (Try telling that to an engineer.) I can probably defend almost anything just using the references I've got at hand. But, who cares? *Generally*, less punctuation and simpler sentence structure are preferred, but not at the cost of robbing the prose of its flow and the writers of their personalities. There's room here for both Carl Sagan and Joe-Bob Briggs.
 

3.  POLICY - Projecting - David Anderson, BGT Moderator

Projecting is not allowed, and David was kind enough to explain it for us:

Projecting into the future - This involves statements about what you expect to happen. While not strictly prohibited, you need to be very careful about how you word this. You must also address any future projecting in your later reports. "This zipper is too small and likely to break" is bad. "I have concerns about whether such a small zipper will hold up to normal use and will be testing this" is okay as long as you follow up on it in your later reports. But it might be better to just wait till the later report to deal with that issue. Then you would be able to just state that "I was surprised to find that such a small zipper appears to be up to the task" or "Under the strain of what I consider normal use, I found the zipper to separate unexpectedly". In other words, whenever you are future projecting, ask yourself if there is a better way to do it, or if it is even necessary.

Projecting onto someone else - This is when you are reporting using second (you, yours) or third person (they, them, one). It goes against our nature to write everything in the first person (me, I, my), but that is what we must do. Even if it is in a section of the report where is not going to reflect badly on the results, try to rewrite it anyway, you might be surprised to find that it will often make more sense if you change it to the first person.

David

4. The use of brand names, such as Velcro

Since 'hook and loop fastener' is commonly known as 'Velcro', is it acceptable to use 'Velcro' for all 'hook and loop fastener' tape, or to use a lower case 'velcro'?

No...velcro (lower case) isn't acceptable. Velcro is a brand name. It should always be capitalized. Hook and loop fastener is the type, Velcro is the brand name.  If you are unsure of the particular brand of hook and loop fastener, you can use the term, "Velcro-type fastener".

Shane

5. Comment on Member Edits - Jerry Goller, Chief Moderator - March, 2003

As has been stated repeatedly, list member edits do not require any action on the part of the reporter. I suggest that the reporters that are uninterested in such things do as I do when I run into some discussion of commas, abbreviations, technical material discussion, etc.....just ignore it and go to the next post. There is nothing anywhere that says a reporter has to do anything with an edit from a list member....even a Moderator, if that Moderator isn't an Edit Moderator. If a list member edits a report with something the reporter considers unimportant, then all the reporter has to do is ignore it. For that matter, there is nothing that says a reporter has to do the edits requested by an Editor Moderator. That would, of course, result in that person not being selected again for a test, but they certainly can go ahead and up load their report. If the report is inaccurate, biases, or truly lame, I'll delete it, of course. I'm beginning to believe I can cure all of this by simply not allowing edits by anyone but an Editor. (NOTE: This is now essentially the policy.)  I still want list members to be able to ask questions and those questions be incorporated into the report, if it seems important, by the tester.

Jerry

6. Notes on Editing Policy - Andrew Priest, Chief Edit Moderator - June 2003

The main thrust of the edit policy can be found in the [Bylaws], in Chapter 6 "Editing Reports." The current incarnation of the [Bylaws] reflects the editing policy following the last debate/debacle that occurred sometime back. At that point in time it came pretty close to banning member edits because the editing was becoming over the top and outside of the spirit of editing intended within BackpackGearTest.org (and the monitors/edit moderators, including yours truly where being over the top as well :-) ). That is a lot of people would often jump in with what may be considered excessive edits on a report or review, therefore overwhelming the writer.

In the main, we have a fairly loose policy on grammatical style editing which is focused on fixing up basic mistakes and allowing the writers style to stand, rather than trying to impose technical writing standards. In this context, as Chief Edit Moderator, my view is that the Test Monitors and Edit Moderators as applicable can cover the edit quite adequately in the first instance. If they miss some obvious typos which significantly impact on the report then by all means the members should pipe up. However, we need to be realistic about this. There is really no need for two or more folks to get involved in editing a report in most instances and in particular before the official edit.

In my view, the best way that members can contribute is to pick up on points and/or questions that can enhance the CONTENT of the report or review. This often comes to the fore, when a member is interested in a piece of gear or has experience with a piece of gear, and the editor or test monitor doesn't. Such questions or comments will frequently end up in the report or review and this is a good thing.

My experience as an Editor is that I am often focusing on the trees (editing grammar/format/etc) that I don't get the opportunity to sit back and see the woods (think of ways to add value to the content) and it is in respect of the later that I feel that the members can contribute in the most positive way.

Thanks

Andrew Priest
Chief Edit Moderator

 



Product tested and reviewed in each Formal Test Report has been provided free of charge by the manufacturer to BackpackGearTest.org. Upon completion of the Test Series the writer is permitted to keep the product. Owner Reviews are based on product owned by the reviewer personally unless otherwise noted.

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