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Endurance Editing: The Work that Makes an Encyclopedia Work

Author Paul Gazzolo
Track Free Knowledge & Access to Information
License GNU Free Documentation License (details)
About the author
Paul A. F. Gazzolo is President of World Book, Inc.
This presentation forms part of the following panel:
To effectively present the who, what, when, where, how, and why of things, the assemblers of an encyclopedia must decide on their audience and be mindful of that audience’s expectations and needs with respect to all facets of the encyclopedia's content. The audience for World Book’s publications includes pre-K through grade 12 students and non-expert adults looking for information to apply to school or job assignments or help in comprehending a varied, confusing, and conflictful world.

The components of constructing World Book include: determining subjects for new or revised treatment; preparing article content, length, and reading level specifications; recruiting contributor(s); editing manuscripts for compliance to spec and World Book style and for clarity; cross- and fact-checking for consistency and accuracy; choosing illustrative material; cross-referencing, indexing, meta tagging; identifying and vetting selected sources of further information.

Are accuracy and authority different? Accuracy refers to factual content that can be validated in independent reliable sources. Accuracy is maintained through systematic review and updating of content. Authority refers to concepts and theories about which people hold different opinions. Authority is established by surveying the spectrum of perspectives around a topic and presenting each perspective nonjudgmentally and in proportion to its prevalence in the debate.

What is the point of a 'traditional' general encyclopedia when there are search engines and the Wikipedia and other communally produced information sources? To provide information users with multiple options. Not every information need is a nail, so information users need more than a hammer in their tool kit. Freedom to find information is perhaps a corollary of freedom of expression and a 'natural right', as some people consider freedom of expression to be.

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