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FAQ – WORG Patrol and profile overhaul

This is a work procedure for writeups.org contributors.

WORG Patrol

That’s community members signalling the typos, language errors, small layout problems, etc.. And our old favourite, the miscalculated Initiative score.

It’s simple :

  • It’s done by community members (people who follow the Groups.io community).
  • You can post on-list, or e-mail me directly if you prefer (preferably with a “WORG Patrol” subject).
  • For every correction, please provide a sentence fragment and the correction.
  • Example : “the cyber monkeys then attattacked the ninja clowns” –> should be “attacked”.
  • This is because I’ll copy-paste-search the sentence fragment to immediately find it in the text, then manually do the correction.
  • If you don’t want to signal just one mistake, you can keep a list in a .txt file, e-mail draft or whatever and send it when you think you’ve accrued enough corrections.
  • Corrections are good. Typos and the like significantly impact the perceived quality of the text for many readers.
  • The more eyeballs we have, the more mistakes we fix.

Overhauling a profile

As I’ve said many times revising profiles for style, typos, brevity, new published information, stats review/modernization, and other improvements is the best thing ever.

It is Good. It is Light. It is Life.

Previously, the entries were laced with markup and code, so modifying them could be difficult – redoing everything from scratch was simpler. Nowadays the source text is relatively clean, especially after some scripting. This means that contributors can edit the text without having to deal with much markup.

1/ Request the file

Send me an e-mail (on-list or off-list) and tell me which text file(s) you gonna need. On my end this is very quick – copy-and-paste from the WordPress dashboard, run a script on the file(s), send.

Here is a raw view of what such a file (it’s a simple .txt file) looks like.

2/ Get Notepad++

It’s here – https://notepad-plus-plus.org/  . If you’re on a Mac use TextWrangler  instead, obvs.

Notepad ++ is a light, clean Windows application to work with text and code. It is well-regarded by essentially everyone ; even better it’s French.

3/ Do 4 things with Notepad++

  1. Make sure Word Wrap is activated. On the button bar under the menus, it’s the one before the button.
  2. Make sure that the spellchecker is activated (among the last buttons, the “ABC” underlined in red).
  3. In the “Encoding” menu, check the “UTF-8 without BOM” choice.
  4. In the “Language” menu, check the “HTML” choice (under “H”).

What the first 2 things do is presumably obvious. UTF-8 encoding means that special characters (such as accented characters or ideograms) will not be mangled. And checking HTML means that the part that are code are now colour-coded.

Useful buttons on Notepad++

In case somebody is very much lost, here are the bits I’m talking about.

4/ Colour-coding

There is *some* markup and code remaining in the document – even with shortcodes and CSS I can only go so far. But with the colour-coding and a tiny bit of experience it becomes easy to ignore it (or focus on it, depending upon one’s needs).

For instance the Background block or the DCH stats table have their markup in blue, leaving the actual information in black. This is much much easier to read than having everything mixed together. Likewise it’s easy to see the h2 and h3 headings, which you’re familiar with from the main template.

Code appears in a mixture of red and violet. Usually it’s an hyperlink, or an image. Just keep them intact and where they are. The bright colours make them easy to skip as not-text.

NotePad++ displaying HTML code

A stats block on NotePad++ set to HTML colour-coding. The markup is blued out, and the eyes thus quickly become accustomed to skimming over it. There’s still a stray character that appears under its technical name (& – an ampersand) in the Occupation line, but it’s highlighted in pale yellow by Notepad++ to make that clear.

5/ “Double-spacing”

You can freely edit your document, and within minutes you’ll probably be used to the colour-coding, leaving you free to concentrate on your text.

There’s on thing to remember though – always two spaces between sentences. Almost all texts on writeups.org use this bit of typography, which significantly facilitates readability (as part of a cognitive science concept called “chunking”).

This also means it looks weird when there’s only one space, as if sentences were crammed together.

When you open the document, you can see that the double-spaces are already in.

(Consecutive spaces do not exist in HTML, if you must know. So there’s a script that’ll turn all these double-spaces back into markup).

6/ Save and send back

That’s it. Depending upon how sweeping the changes are, we may or may not decide to “push” the revised article up in the timeline so it appears on the homepage.