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Discussing: articles, essays and compilations - how to approach writing them

articles, essays and compilations - how to approach writing them

There's been some discussion elsewhere about compiling certain forum topics into resource articles/essays, so I thought it might be a good idea to open a topic where we could discuss it further. There are some good reasons for creating such compilations. Ease of locating information is one that has been mentioned. The Care and Feeding of Beta Readers is one that has been cited as an example of how this can work. There are also some real concerns, and it is these I'd like to see hashed out here. One is the ability to verify the accuracy of some posts. Not everyone includes citations of sources for what is posted in a discussion. As Resources are intended to provide the most accurate information possible to HASA's members, how do we address this? Would a general disclaimer suffice? Should the compiler be required to check the data for accuracy? Skirt the issue by careful wording?
According to a post by ___ (member's name), blah, blah, blah...
There 's also the question that has been raised about using member's posts. Since we can and often do reference other discussions within the members' side of HASA, would it be considered unethical to use posted information from a discussion in such an article? would citation of the member who posted the information suffice or should each member be contacted for permission to use their posts? I'd like to know what the rest of you think about this. I have very strong opinions about the citation of source material, as anyone who has interacted with me in Resources is well aware. I know that is one reason why the distinction between research articles and critical essays has been maintianed, yet there is some overlap that is inevitable when writing about a "made-up world" like Middle-earth. So, what approach do we take? Do we approach this at all, or simply encourage members to make use of the Search Forums option? Opinions? ~Nessime Addendum: I should have clarified that this is primarily concerning Resources forum topics, though these questions might also apply if a member has a topic that would be of interest to the general membership (such as a "how to" type of discussion). In the latter case, however, we have always approached the discussion owner about writing up the information for Resources, preferably coaxing that person to write the article.

 

 

Re: articles, essays and compilations - how to approach writing them

~Nessime, It seems like it would be impossible to really coordinate all the information with the relevant discussion out of these threads, but I agree there are many that are just too good to be sitting in obscurity down the list. What about an article that simply collects links to the various threads with a comprehensive summary of what is in the thread. for example: the new sword technique could be mentioned in conjunction with medical thread about treating those types of injuries. I think in this cases you are going to be better off linking to the originals rather than trying to resubmit the information. -also because those threads are going to continually be added onto, and new threads created. It will be much simpler to add a new link to update the compilation/article.

 

 

Re: articles, essays and compilations - how to approach writing them

If somebody uses somebody elses work, they should ask permission first and then, having secured that permission, give proper credit and citation. Lindorien

 

 

Re: articles, essays and compilations - how to approach writing them

I think those sort of articles can be great. I do feel quite strongly though that if you are going to quote someone, even in a general sense such as 'This article is based on posts by x, y and z', then you should get their permission. Otherwise you can find yourself appearing to agree with tthings that you don't or vice a versa. It's different IMO from the more informal forum/list comment of 'x said...' - not least because x can immediately clarify what he she meant or specify to what degree they agree. Avon

 

 

Re: articles, essays and compilations - how to approach writing them

My two cents... or maybe three or four I think there are several intrepretations possible, and it also depends on the type of material. If you look at it as a 'published essay' then it is obviously something that could be quoted. If you look at it more as a newsgroup or private list, then the nettiquette of not quoting posts in a wider forum without permission comes into play. But I think the question goes further; such posts are a spectrum, which makes it difficult. Obviously if someone posts: "mallorns' leaves turn gold in autumn," that information is available to everyone easily - should it be acknowledged in an article on trees of M-e? Probably not, IMHO. OTOH, if someone does extensive research to make their post, putting together a mini-article, or novel interpretation, or opinion on motivations, they may want to be acknowledged, or even decline permission to use for a variety of reasons - the poster might want to use it in her own article, for instance. Alternately, it may have been argument for argument sake, and while that person is comfortable posting in a discussion, to have it solidified into an article might be quite uncomfortable. It could stifle discussion in a forum to think that any throw-away comment might appear in an article. Again, the difference between "Castamir's grandsons attacked Gondor" and "Slash is a perversion of Tolkien's opinions" is huge. And I can see that this is even more problematic for direct quotes. So if I'm writing about Boromir's journey, for instance, do I ask Sulriel and Blue Iris for permission to quote mileage? Travel times? Comments about route which could be a direct quote? It's clearer, I think, for a discussion where more opinion may be expressed - an article on declining stories, wanting to use opinions from the "Art of Declining" discussion, would seem the perfect example of the other end of the spectrum. Lyllyn

 

 

Re: articles, essays and compilations - how to approach writing them

What about an article that simply collects links to the various threads with a comprehensive summary of what is in the thread.
This is an interesting idea - if I'm understanding you correctly, it could be similar to the URL library, with the links listed in categories to make it easier to shift through the information. Resource forums are listed together, which helps members locate those discussions. There are also some member discussions that could properly be linked to Resources - as some are already because they discuss things that may be of interest to other writers (how to discussions, those that discuss various forms of writing, and grammar discussions are a few examples). It's possible that subdividing these into categories would be helpful, making it easier for members to locate a needed discussion. Your point about the threads being added onto is good as well. The bonus is that some threads that have lain dormant for a time may be revived. Good stuff to consider. Thanks for adding to the discussion. ~Nessime

 

 

Re: articles, essays and compilations - how to approach writing them

I said:What about an article that simply collects links to the various threads with a comprehensive summary of what is in the thread. you replied: This is an interesting idea - if I'm understanding you correctly, it could be similar to the URL library, with the links listed in categories to make it easier to shift through the information. Yes. I know I'm not the sharpest cookie around the block, but I have not found the resource department the easiest to use. the biographical information, and stuff like the shudder nassssty spiders precious .. it can't be beat. but for more general stuff, it isn't so handy. what I have in mind would be (for example titled: Weapons Information. it would (basically) list all the articles and discussions on weapons with a summary provided for each link. DL7s article could be listed and also the discussion thread on medical injuries and care. I know I've read somewhere a wonderful article comparing the weapons based on their type of use and the personality of the wielder, it could be included in something like this. the battle injuries and care would also be listed and summarized in the Medicine and Medical Care in M-e article. The discussion thread on birth control, home births and natural narcotics would also be linked in this one. For another example: the horse articles. When you look up something about horses, you get several subheadings with nondescript titles. You have to click again, and back and then on the next one to get the summaries. Those could be compiled in an article with all the summaries together, also the new travel chart, and any discussion threads that have involved horses... Cheryl, Gypsum and someone else and I just had a long discussion here about training. (Lindelea maybe). Tons of good info, including discussion on various different training technique. ... Maybe you are looking to see how the saddle is fastened on, and the summary of the color article catches your eye and you read it and are able to fix or add to your horses physical description. also - using links pointing to the threads instead of rebuilding the information into articles would be much less work and completely bypass the permission/credit issue since you are pointing back to the original work. This is all just off the cuff, so may not make a lot of sense, not to mention I've just come in from working on the electric fence in the rain. What they say about the insulation properties of rubber boots is not true. .. turn the fence OFF before you cut.

 

 

Re: articles, essays and compilations - how to approach writing them

Thanks for the input. Lyllyn and I need to hear from members so we know what areas need to be addressed, not only in terms of content, but organization for ease of use. We also have to take code requirements into consideration, but at least we can discuss this and see if it would be workable from a coding standpoint. No promises, in other words, but at least the idea is on the table for discussion. And for heaven's sake, turn the power off before you go messing around with anymore electric fences (especially in the rain) *yikes* Unless, of course, you're going for a quick way to curl your hair. ~Nessime PS - It's a good thing they didn't have to deal with electric fences in M-e. I don't think they had rubber boots.

 

 

Re: articles, essays and compilations - how to approach writing them

My two penn’orth…. I do like the idea of pulling together lists of links similar to list of “Resources Useful for New Members”. This would be particularly useful to point people to discussions where there are no “right” answers (such as the discussion on how to write het). In terms of the way resource discussions and research articles are pulled together into logical high-level groups (which does sound like a good idea), the main issues I see are how this data is categorised, how different kinds of items (discussions, research articles, URLs etc) are associated with each other and how and who maintains it. I don’t know enough about the guts of how the resources section works to make any useful suggestions here, but my feeling is this may be asking for some major redevelopment of how the research articles section works? Also, is it not possible already to nearly get to this kind of unified view (but excluding forums) by doing a resources search? Relying on forum searches to get at debates and useful information in forum threads has a number of drawbacks I think. Not least that, as far as I can tell, the forum search feature is not actually working at the moment (I know there have been a lot of technical reasons why it has been difficult to keep stable). Another reason is that I know from past experience when the forums search is working that it can be very hard to choose the right search term to find the information you are looking for, or to separate the wheat from the multitude of chaff even if you do get the right term. And I think there can be value in writing up forum discussions, where the summary can be used to bring greater order to a debate that may have been quite wide ranging. I think that’s especially true where a lot of different canon or RL information has been provided by various members, and there have been several competing theories presented about how that information might be applied in the context of a story. I know that when I put together the rather convoluted e-mail discussions I had been having with my betas into the Gondorian Military article, it felt useful to be able to present different points of view next to each other and to show how the arguments were built without all the to-ing and fro-ing and false starts and blind alleys. I was also inspired (*cough* hassled by Lyllyn) to research further, develop some of the arguments more effectively and back them up with further canon quotes and RL sources. The result was, I think, a great deal more useful to others than the raw e-mails would have been. (And yes, those were private e-mails, so compiling the research article was mostly a way to get that information into the public domain. But I think my experiences there would apply to summarising forum threads.) Or perhaps I’m just lazy and like to go and find something punchy and neatly laid out and quick to read where someone else has done all the work? Cheers, Liz

 

 

Re: articles, essays and compilations - how to approach writing them

I'm a little dizzy, but I didn't think I was that dizzy. All I mean is like what I did in the color article. text .. a 4yo horse is too young to ride in battle. here is what one looks like /link/ I'm not talking about any restructure or recoding. Just a simple narrative text connecting the subject. Horses. Horses are widely used in M-e as a means of transport. We have several articles that deal with a general horse facts /link to existing research article/ and an overview of equine behavior./link to research article/. It is commonly believed that most if not all of the horses of the Rohirrim were grey, which can be a difficult color to write because the coat changes dramatically over time. /link to research article/ /link to discussion thread/. Horses are well known to be both temperamental and companionable. /link to training discussion thread/ **end example** my example of the battle wounds and care: .. that information has already been provided once, at great detail. It needs to be in the weapons article, as well as in the medical care article. That would be three times the same information is researched, compiled and provided. That makes no sense to me in terms of efficient use of time. -also, someone may need slightly different information that is provided as an aside and left out when a second article is compiled. ((you certainly don't have to use my idea, but after reading the responses, I feared that what I proposed wasn't clearly understood))

 

 

Re: articles, essays and compilations - how to approach writing them

I'm a little dizzy, but I didn't think I was that dizzy. Nope, that was definitely me being ditzy and misunderstanding what you meant - thanks for the illustration. There's the ability to link a story to discussions that could be used sometimes as well, I think? OTOH, I still think there's an issue of how you get people to update their research articles to include links to relevant threads when new ones are created It still seems a little unstructured and accidental to me. But I know how good Lyllyn and Nessime are at "encouraging" people to do this stuff I think it also depends how coherent and structured the debate in the threads is. I might be uncomfortable pointing people to a long debate where the discussion rambled somewhat and I know there is erroneous information in early posts which was corrected in later posts - but someone may not get that far.... (And I'm sure I'm showing my own prejudices here, since my work generally involves taking a whole bunch of random unstructured information on a topic and honing it down into a couple of thousand words that will immediately useful to people. Of course, now I'm thinking about all the stuff that doesn't make it in to those articles that people might find useful....) Cheers, Liz

 

 

Re: articles, essays and compilations - how to approach writing them

...I feared that what I proposed wasn't clearly understood>
That's what I get for trying to do too many things at once (all the while watching out for a rapidly approaching thunderstorm). Sorry. It did occur to me that an article similar to "What's in HoM-e" might work (with links to the appropriate pages, whether articles, resource entries or discussions) - but only after posting my initial response, by which time I'd moved on to another project. I think I see your point re: the battle wounds and care. One compilation, cross-referenced with the three other articles, would be a more efficient use of time and human resources (no, we really don't want to burn out our researchers ). ~Nessime *going to get another cup of coffee*

 

 

Re: articles, essays and compilations - how to approach writing them

I think it also depends how coherent and structured the debate in the threads is. I might be uncomfortable pointing people to a long debate where the discussion rambled somewhat and I know there is erroneous information in early posts which was corrected in later posts - but someone may not get that far.... (And I'm sure I'm showing my own prejudices here, since my work generally involves taking a whole bunch of random unstructured information on a topic and honing it down into a couple of thousand words that will immediately useful to people. Of course, now I'm thinking about all the stuff that doesn't make it in to those articles that people might find useful....) but doesn't it still need to say where the information came from? You could certainly summarize the thread, but I would still prefer a brief summary and a link. By the time you have compiled your version it is at least, probably, third hand information. I can't imagine trying to document all that, the bibliography would be longer than the article's text. -and like the whisper game, I'd question the legitimacy of the translations. still just thinking out loud, for another example re: the horse training thread. I would have conniptions if someone tried to summarize one of my posts because someone who isn't a trainer is likely to leave out a key nit... and if I was credited with incorrect information I could possibly have a full meltdown.

 

 

Re: articles, essays and compilations - how to approach writing them

It is ethical, when using someone else's work, to secure permission first - ESPECIALLY if the information comes by way of private email. The sender may not know the information is going to be used, nor mean that it should be used. Once permission is granted then it should be properly cited and credit given where due. Otherwise, one might call it plagerism. On the very lightest side, one might call it poaching. In the case of research, linking publicly listed sites is an easy enough thing to do, even if permission is not secured ahead of time, proper citation and linking ensures the reader doesn't presume the idea to be the author's own. In the case of private emails, special care must be taken. Unless of course, it is the author's intent to present the ideas, speculations and research of others as 'original'. But that is another issue. Lindorien

 

 

Re: articles, essays and compilations - how to approach writing them

In the case of private emails, special care must be taken. Unless of course, it is the author's intent to present the ideas, speculations and research of others as 'original'. Lindorien, you don't have to worry, I don't think that's in question. If you mean Liz's article based on emails, the participants were cited, AFAIK, and they helped beta the article, I believe. Where I did a compilation - "Betas and Reveiwers: Care and Feeding," I don't think anyone could mistake that most of those ideas weren't mine. By definition, a compilation article based on a forum acknowledges that the ideas came from the forum, not the compiler. The question here is how and when to credit - back to that "mallorns have golden leaves in fall" example. Does one credit that? Do you credit the thread: "all the participants in the widget forum," or name 20 names? Do you credit each peice of information individually, or simply list contributors? Your thoughts on the specifics? Lyllyn

 

 

Re: articles, essays and compilations - how to approach writing them

In the case of private emails, special care must be taken. Unless of course, it is the author's intent to present the ideas, speculations and research of others as 'original'. Lindorien, you don't have to worry, I don't think that's in question. As I said. That is another issue. One would hope an author would never consider presenting speculation, commentary or research of others as his/her own. Such a thing would be unscrupulous. As far as how to cite 'research'. True research uses as many citations as necessary. I fail to see the difference between public sources and private sources. In the case of private sources for information, then one must be even more circumspect in ensuring permission has been secured and proper citation made, lest a shadow fall upon one's work and one's integrity be called into question. As to how one should credit? Ideally one would ask the source of the speculation, commentary or research how that person would like to be credited. In the case where such a thing is impossible or unreasonable, at the very least the source should be listed.

 

 

Re: articles, essays and compilations - how to approach writing them

As I said. That is another issue. One would hope an author would never consider presenting speculation, commentary or research of others as his/her own. Such a thing would be unscrupulous. I do feel like we're talking past each other, here. You are focusing on generalities. I'm trying to get specific; I believe that's the whole reason Nessime set up this thread. If you want to talk about a different situation, perhaps you should start a thread devoted to that? Here, we're specifically talking about discussions in Resources, especially in the Research Questions forum, but including a few others such as Grammar. If 20 people in a thread discuss something, and a compiler, mentioning from the start that they are compiling, is writing up the discussion, how does one acknowledge it? Do we email 20 people, including the "mallorns have golden leaves" person? Lyllyn

 

 

Re: articles, essays and compilations - how to approach writing them

Let me claify something. I opened this topic to discuss the possibility of compiling some of the Resources forum topics as Resources articles. This is not about the use of information derived from private communications. Others have cited such articles only as examples of how such compilations can be helpful to the general membership. That is the only reason the mention of private communications has entered the topic. Any other discussion of private communication is not germane to this discussion. The use of information derived from public forums, such as HASA's Resources forums, calls for a particular netiquette, which is what we are discussing here. If you want to discuss private communications, private sources or the issue of plagiarism, please do so elsewhere. This is not the proper forum. ~Nessime Resources Manager

 

 

Re: articles, essays and compilations - how to approach writing them

I do feel like we're talking past each other, here. You are focusing on generalities. I'm trying to get specific; I believe that's the whole reason Nessime set up this thread. If you want to talk about a different situation, perhaps you should start a thread devoted to that? Are we? I didn't think so. I do not know how much more specific I can be than to state that if an author uses somebody's elses work than permission should be secured and an appropriate citation should be made. Research is research. If research requires citations, then the work should be cited. So - if 20 people contribute to a work, or have in some way aided an author in his/her work, all twenty should be acknowledged. At the very least, listing is required. However, it is reasonable if a person listed takes exception to having his/her work used, even with the citation, if permission has not been granted. Use of an extreme case, as in the 'mallorns have golden leaves' person does not excuse improper citations on one's work, or offer justification for the same. HASA would need to determine if any and all words posted on the public forums of this site, likewise constitute permission to use those words, observations, commentaries, etc. by anyone for any reason, as long as the source is cited. Some people, myself included, and likely others would take exception to such wholesale exploitation of their thoughts and ideas. Others may not care. Here is the question that must be answered: 1) is posting to a forum in HASA tantamount to giving away all rights to one's ideas, thoughts, writing efforts, etc. 2) is HASA, should they determine the answer to question 1) be 'yes' willing to deal with the possible fallout of having her forums freely quoted wherever and whenever anybody has a mind to do so? The question of private sources was raised, and I do see your recent post Nessime. Yet private sources are no different from public sources and are worthy of the same kind regard which should be accorded public sources. That any might consider them somehow 'less worthy' of proper citation should be cause for concern. If an author secures permission and cites appropriately then there should never be a problem. If HASA Resources prides itself on providing a high standard to those items it chooses to include, then HASA Resources should do no less than ensure the proper citation and acknowledgement. If the suggestion that sources be properly cited is at odds with what the resource admins would like to hear. I shall, of course, bow out, and leave you to your discussion. I shall bow out anyway. I've said what I need to. People should cite their sources. There ya go. The short answer to a simple question.

 

 

Re: articles, essays and compilations - how to approach writing them

..... Sulriel scooches over to make room for Lindorien on the Group W bench ...

 

 

Re: articles, essays and compilations - how to approach writing them

Short answer to a simple question - a link to the forum topic that has been compiled as an article covers the citation of sources. If someone prefers not to have their posts cited, that is a simple matter, though the posts are still accessable to anyone who wishes to read through the forums. Additionally we are not talking about going into other member's forums and extracting information for articles. We are specifically discussing Resourse forums. What I object to in your posts are the repeated suggestions of plagiarism. If you have an accusation to make, make it. Anyone who has actually contributed to HASA's Resources knows how insistant we are on having proper citations, so your insinuations and lecturing tone are wholly uncalled for, and constitute an insult to all the real researchers who have contributed to a valuable resource for HASA's members. ~Nessime Resources Manager

 

 

Re: articles, essays and compilations - how to approach writing them

I have bowed out of the discussion.

 

 

Re: articles, essays and compilations - how to approach writing them

Hi all. Admittably I'm coming in late in this discussion, my apologies I see some interesting points being raised, and I'd like to comment on a few of them. (hopefully this won't be too long winded, but with me, you never know ) Sulriel I've just come in from working on the electric fence in the rain. What they say about the insulation properties of rubber boots is not true. .. turn the fence OFF before you cut. Forgive me for the chuckle, Sulriel, it's a knowing chuckle from one victim to another. LOL You don't have to turn off the fence, just jump and cut the fence while you're mid air... Sulriel You could certainly summarize the thread, but I would still prefer a brief summary and a link. By the time you have compiled your version it is at least, probably, third hand information. I can't imagine trying to document all that, the bibliography would be longer than the article's text. still just thinking out loud, for another example re: the horse training thread. I would have conniptions if someone tried to summarize one of my posts because someone who isn't a trainer is likely to leave out a key nit... and if I was credited with incorrect information I could possibly have a full meltdown If I was searching for particular information, a summary would be very helpful. OTOH, I'm likely to blow a gasket if I was credited with misinformation, on a topic I'm passionate and knowledgable about. I suspect most people are the same way with "stuff" they know. Is there some way (brainstorming here) that summaries could be run past, if not the author/significant contributor, but someone who is knowlegable on the topic to try and prevent misquotes or errors? I have no idea if any of that would work, just thinking aloud... Public vs. Private Issue This is complicated, and obviously passionate topic. I think the bottom line is that the information being linked is readily available through the public forums. All that's being proposed is a way to make the information more readily accessible. I understand the argument for proper citation, but we're dealing with, potentially, massive resposes to a particular topic. And, even further, where do we draw the line to citing people that post? Meaning, if the resource links to the topic itself, do we cite anyone who posted to the thread? Even the person who just says "Wow, that was great, I totally agree with X's assessment of Y." If we say no, that contributor doesn't get cited, then where do we draw the line of who does and does not get cited? That in itself, is a grey area that could be disasterous to venture into. The way I see it, is, we may have to sacrifice the summary part, and only provide URL links to the particular topics themselves. I don't see where citing would be a problem, in that the topic threads have the author's name listed, and that, in itself constitutes proper citation, IMHO. I believe Sulriel said something to this degree early on in the discussion. Perhaps the issue of whether or not to cite the work could just be skirted around by something like “Training Horses: A long and informative thread on this topic can be found ” From there, citation isn’t an issue, because the reader is being directed to a public forum where the author’s names are clearly displayed. Just my .02, in my own rambling sort of way. Hope at least some of that is useful, and I also hope that I haven’t completely missed the points of this discussion. Cheryl edit corrected obvious spelling errors...at least the ones I found...

 

 

Re: articles, essays and compilations - how to approach writing them

I'm trying to organize this so we can discuss and come up with something that is agreeable to members. I'd like to draw some distinctions. Feel free to point out changes in this that you feel are important. Research Questions forum: Everyone in this forum is answering a question, and presumably therefore willing to share their knowledge. If you've posted in this forum and that isn't your opinion, please tell me. Most of the posts are about facts, although a few involve speculation. Most of those involving speculation are extrapolating facts as in "Medieval cities did thus and so, so perhaps Minas Tirith would do the same." I feel there is a distinction between posts about facts that anyone can find, and opinions. One online source of legal advice for small businesses said "there is no copyright on facts, only how they're presented." Speculation based on facts falls somewhere in the middle, IMHO. As Sulriel correctly pointed out, some of the facts are very nuanced, so inadvertent small deviations could misrepresent what the poster is saying. My opinion: Anything that is quoted needs citations and permission, obviously. Compilation of facts are the issue on the table. In some forums it's mainly 4 or 5 people discussing, and permission and vetting of the article wouldn't be difficult. It's the forums with many posters that are the question, and some of those posters may have only mentioned simple facts, or as Cheryl points out, said "I agree." So does one: credit the entire forum, "all members of the widget forum." List all members posting and credit them, whether or not anything from their posts actually went into the article? Credit each fact individually. If we do this, where does it stop? Only facts that are obscure? Anything not in non-appendix lotr? or Sil? Every fact cited? "Aragorn became king in 3019, therefore..."1 1. date supplied by member xyz would seem unwieldy and unnecessary. One method could be to post the proposed compilation in beta, and ask everyone from the forum to read and make corrections as needed. There is a real balance here - the compilations are often not for the benefit of the compiler or those who discussed it in the forum, but for other members who want the information without wading through the forum posts, or who aren't even aware the information is buried there. This means that the forum members may not have much incentive, outside of their altruistic (or geeky) natures, to put in much work on this. And none of this addresses the other issue Nessime raised - ensuring the accuracy. I'd like see which discussions people feel should be compiled. Maybe with examples in front of us, it would be easier to build a model people could feel comfortable using. Lyllyn

 

 

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