I just wanted to let you all know that I'm a StackExchange employee and I'm working on improving the English Language site. Basically, that means I'll be correcting things like grammar, spelling, punctuation, and trying to make titles clearer (and represent the actual question better). Of course, we are a collaboratively edited site, so if you liked something better before I changed it, go ahead and change it back.

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    Why EL&U, if you don't mind me asking? Your network account shows us and Home Improvement. Somewhat of an odd pair. :) – MrHen Jul 27 '11 at 17:51
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    @MrHen There are a lot of these (as in, various employees) going around on multiple sites, actually, so it's probably some degree of assignments being handed out. – Grace Note Jul 27 '11 at 17:57
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    @Once Great: in the Circles of the SE Inferno, I'm sure being assigned to EL&U is considered the Ninth Circle of Hell! – F'x Jul 27 '11 at 18:29
  • @Once Great You're right - there are a few of us working to improve various SE sites right now. – Lauren Jul 27 '11 at 19:10
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    Are you really Lauren Ipsum from Writers.SE? – Robusto Jul 27 '11 at 19:43
  • Posting this on all the CHAOS monkey's intro posts ;) chat.stackexchange.com/transcript/message/1461365#1461365 – jcolebrand Jul 27 '11 at 21:27
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    Hello Lauren Ψ. Does that mean you don't mind correcting spelling? I should be ashamed of myself, but the fact of the matter is I could probably keep you in full-time employment just correcting my crap spelling! :) – FumbleFingers Jul 28 '11 at 17:31
  • @F'x +1 for the Dante reference lol – Alenanno Jul 29 '11 at 11:38
  • Just for fun I looked up a recent example. Title "How to properly pronounce 'mall'" was changed to "How do you properly pronounce 'mall'?" – GEdgar Jul 29 '11 at 14:28
  • @FumbleFingers yes a lot of what I'm doing is correcting spelling and grammar. – Lauren Jul 29 '11 at 14:50

I'm sorry for the confusion about what I'm doing here. Check out this post for more info: https://meta.stackexchange.com/questions/100137/what-is-the-meaning-of-chaos-is-it-related-to-the-psi-character

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    Ah, yeah, that was what I wondering about. Thanks :) – MrHen Jul 28 '11 at 18:22
  • No problem, hope that helps. Let me know if you have more questions. – Lauren Jul 28 '11 at 18:34
  • ty for the clarifying link. Since you're assigned to us, can I ask here rather than there if this means EL&U might well expect a massive increase in traffic over the coming months? It does look as if that's the underlying goal of TPTB at this point. – FumbleFingers Jul 28 '11 at 22:36
  • Our goal is to promote EL&U, but there's no way to know how much traffic our efforts will actually drive to the site. – Lauren Jul 29 '11 at 13:10
  • Fair enough. But I suppose increasing traffic is one of (if not the primary) aim of this exercise, so if you do a good job we should suppose/hope it will happen. I think you got the best assignment, btw! – FumbleFingers Jul 29 '11 at 14:06

Could you give us some clarifications on what kind of criteria you're using to identify the posts you're going to alter? Namely, what are the things you look for in determining what you'll change, and what kind of approach do you plan to take while making those changes?

  • As I understand it, the changes will be focused on improving title understandability to popular questions (whether that's decided by votes or by views is something I don't know). – waiwai933 Jul 27 '11 at 20:51
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    @waiwai I spoke with Joel, too, but I still want to see what the general battle plan is as far as how they target what is considered needing improvement. I think it'll also be helpful to have those criteria all in the open air, to dispel any potential concerns as similar to those voiced by Robusto in his answer. – Grace Note Jul 27 '11 at 20:53
  • It looks like top 1000 questions by pageview. – MrHen Jul 28 '11 at 18:24

I'm not entirely clear about the wording of this 'question'. If you are changing, for example, titles to make them 'safe for radio' then I'm happy with that (in the specialized sense of "I think it's a really bad idea but I'm not paying for this site and I'd rather put up with it than go somewhere else"). But if you start correcting grammar and usage on a site devoted to grammar and usage then you had better be very certain you know more about every topic than the poster, and even so you are destroying the point of a community-moderated site.

(In case it's not obvious, this is not a personal attack: I'm querying the idea of a 'sub-editor' on this particular site, and hoping it's just infelicitous wording).

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    Many of the questions being asked here by people who have a poor grasp of grammar, etc. Presumably, the edits are not planning on starting a grammar war in the titles but are meant to help get some of the heavy lifting out of the way. – MrHen Jul 28 '11 at 16:32

Just FYI, due to a recent spate of events, EL&U has a "titles must be censored" policy, which is why this revision, helpful though it is, should not have gone through. I haven't edited it back because I don't want to bump it, so I would appreciate it if you would change it back with your special no-bump powers.

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    It is in fact a superior title the way it is now. And if a Stack Exchange employee made the change, I for one am certainly not going to stand in her way and tell her to change it back. – nohat Jul 28 '11 at 6:27
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    @nohat it's changed back, and will stay that way. – Jeff Atwood Jul 28 '11 at 7:33
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    I am 100% behind the idea that SE sites, and particularly EL&U, should avoid "titilating" titles. Personally I also don't think they should be worded in any way intended attempt to attract interest over and above that directly pertaining to the specific matter being asked about. – FumbleFingers Jul 28 '11 at 17:36
  • @Jeff Hooray for censorship! – nohat Jul 29 '11 at 6:42
  • @nohat so you wouldn't censor a discussion of the best word to describe raping children? Because that would be censorship. – Jeff Atwood Jul 30 '11 at 6:30
  • @Jeff there is an enormous gaping chasm of difference between informal names for body parts and heinous crimes against children. Censoring the former is the just the long, ugly arm of 17th-century sex-negative Puritanism extending into the 21st century. Censoring the latter would just be common sense because it’s grossly off-topic. – nohat Jul 30 '11 at 7:18
  • @nohat regardless, censorship is always wrong. Isn't it? Or are you saying censorship is OK in some cases? – Jeff Atwood Jul 30 '11 at 7:22
  • @Jeff: this site went through a lengthy process of deciding what questions would be acceptable and what would not. Did I miss the 'title inoffensive to self-appointed guardians of purity' criterion? If not, why are you trying to impose it now? – Tim Lymington Aug 2 '11 at 21:12
  • @tim yes, you did miss that discussion: meta.english.stackexchange.com/questions/975/… – Jeff Atwood Aug 2 '11 at 22:24

Really, have The Powers That Be decided we are such an obstreperous lot here, with such faulty moderation and so high a proportion of posts not sufficiently edited for the old lady in Dubuque that we have become a constant source of embarrassment to said Powers, and now need someone to monitor us within an inch of our lives lest we be caught eating paste or running with scissors or making fun of the Junior League or any one of a number of other godawful unmentionable things?


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    I think that's a bit unfair to say. The CHAOS team (which Lauren is a part of) is doing this on many sites (34 in total), not just English. It has nothing to do with any of the recent events, and I've even heard word from high up that English has the better titles among the sites that are in the current set of patrols. It's a one time sweep is all that's being done, not some kind of constant vigil. – Grace Note Jul 27 '11 at 20:09
  • Nice passive-aggressive edit on the title, btw. – MrHen Jul 27 '11 at 20:38
  • @MrHen: Passive? No, I took action. Aggressive? Again, no. It was just done in the spirit of, you know, correcting titles. – Robusto Jul 27 '11 at 20:42
  • I'm sorry—we're going off on a digression of the initial digression, and it's my fault for continuing this, especially when your annoyance at SE is quite understandable (I do share some of it, although not perhaps at the same level). I've deleted my comments to try and keep the bitterness level down, and I hope you accept this apology. – waiwai933 Jul 28 '11 at 2:14
  • @waiwai: Apology accepted. I'm deleting my sallies as well. – Robusto Jul 28 '11 at 2:20
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    I will say this for our new brillo-wielder: she certainly favored plainspokenness on the tits question, reverting Kosmonaut's bowdlerization. (And The New Yorker is certainly not 'shit'less.) – nohat Jul 28 '11 at 6:23
  • @nohat: Anent The New Yorker being not 'shit'less: You are making my point. Their editorial policy allows words like 'shit' and even 'fuck' (and more). The point of the link was that it contains the reference to the "old lady from Dubuque", whom the magazine's first editor, Harold Ross, explicitly stated that his publication would not be edited for. – Robusto Jul 28 '11 at 14:28

I never noticed you before and considering this post is recent, that explains why. I think it was a nice decision to post this question so as to avoid incomprehensions.

But you made it sound like it's your only task... Is it or am I wrong? I mean, it sounds weird to know of a specific-purpose moderator... Just saying, though. Wish you good work! (Now I'm not sure whether this expression exists or whether it's the best one or not...)

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    Thanks for the good luck! Right now, it's my main focus. But after a few days I'll be moving on to other things that don't require moderator privileges. – Lauren Jul 29 '11 at 13:11
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    +1 Thanks for the answer! :D – Alenanno Jul 29 '11 at 13:42

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