“Thank you for working on this project.” There I was, a new member of Distributed Proofreaders, tentatively asking what I was sure was a stupid question. I was sure that the answer would be glaringly obvious in the proofreading guidelines, but that I’d totally missed it. How nice to get a gentle answer and “Thank you for working on this project.” Or “Thanks for asking.” Wow! These were comments that mattered. These comments encouraged me to come back!
So I came back. I found the forum. I posted there. Back came comments. Recognizing that I was new, people said, “Welcome to DP!” I got validation that the “diff” (i.e., change) that someone made to my edited page did not mean I’d made a mistake. Sometimes changes are made because of ambiguity. Sometimes different people interpret the same wording differently. Sometimes I understood the guidelines and the person after me did not. “Welcome to DP!” “Your questions matter.” “Thanks for asking.” These are comments that make a difference!
The managers of the projects (mostly books) that we work on create project comments. They tell us a little about the book or the author. They emphasize items in the Guidelines that we will see in the project and need to deal with. They point out things that are not in the guidelines that may cause questions and provide answers before we need to ask. They may ask us to do something a little different than the usual in this one project. From these comments we decide if this is the right project for us to work on. These are comments that matter!
In the Forums we post about Distributed Proofreaders aspects we care about. There’s change we want, functionality we want, Guidelines we want changed, Guidelines we want clarified, Guidelines we have different opinions on, language support we want, where we believe we need to focus efforts, where we feel we’re bogging down, what we have resources for, what we don’t. Because we care, we’re passionate. What we comment matters. How we comment matters!
Comments that welcome us. Comments that guide us. Comments that appreciate our efforts. Comments that push us to grow. Comments that help us as we each strive to leave each page better than we found it. These are comments that matter! These are comments made by volunteers who matter!
This post was contributed by WebRover, a DP volunteer.
This is such an important point – DP is one of the kindest, friendliest, welcomingest sites on the internet. That is the reason I stay. Of course, sometimes things look a little unfriendly; but when I get a prickly reply, I think “Who knows what’s going on in their life?” As someone said, “Be kind. Always. Everyone you meet is fighting a battle you know nothing about.” I’m still working towards that.
Good advice for when you get a bad response and your bile and hackles both rise: Without giving the “To” address, write the answer you really want to send. Read it. Again. Then delete it, and write the answer you should.
I agree, Webrover! and Bess, I agree with you, too. As a smooth-reader, I know that my comments within the books I’m smooth-reading very likely will help improve the final product DP sends to Project Gutenberg. I am always filled with joy when a book I’ve worked on goes to PG. The comments I receive from the PPers are very helpful–often funny, sometimes pithy, always kind. Comments do matter, as does the tone they’re typed in.
Thanks so much for this post, WebRover. I owe so much to everyone at DP who has given me guidance, support, friendship, and something to do over many years. One of our colleagues, who has been absent for a few years, recently dropped in and said something along the lines of DP being the best place on the internet–I wholeheartedly agree; and it is the people and their knowledge and willingness to share that makes it that way.
[…] is the sort of thing that DP does so well.” I agree. There’s a blog article about Comments That Matter that expresses this in more […]