Thursday, November 12, 2009

Comic 661: An editor's helpful pen



Hey there, friends. This is Jay guest-posting, and we're going to do something different today. We get accused so often on this blog of not being constructive, I've decided to go over the latest comic with an editor's helpful pen, fixing what needs be fixed. Let's begin!




Dialogue has three purposes. It should be believable, it should convey something about the situation at hand, and it should be interesting to read. These purposes are often at odds with each other - for example, dialogue that was completely true to life, with all the ums and uhs left in, would not be very interesting to read.

With any piece of writing, you should use the fewest possible words to get your point across. Here, the word 'and' is superfluous. Randall is using it to tell us something about the situation - that the speaker is concluding a speech, that she said more before this. But we already know this. We can infer it from other clues in the panel, so the word is unnecessary.

It's not a good idea to underestimate your audience. Generally, people can figure things out pretty well from the context.




The passive voice is weaker than the active. It is more exciting for the subject of a sentence to do something than for something to be done to the subject. This would be snappier as "if you elect me." This would be stronger in a real speech too, as an appeal to her voters. Voters elect people - elections don't just happen.




This is more weak dialogue. Would any candidate promise to fix only 'some' of the problems? Would anyone vote for her? Randall is not thinking about what he's writing, and the result is dialogue that is boring on a cursory reading and completely falls apart under a closer look.




... which makes me notice the "try to fix" immediately preceding that. Even though this is a school election, the girl presumably wants to sound convincing. Maybe politicians should give speeches like this - "Uh, I'll try to fix the economy. No promises."




Italics are more distracting in handwritten text than in typed. You should only use them when you really need to emphasize a word. It's not necessary here - again, you shouldn't underestimate your audience. People are pretty used to talking and can usually tell what inflections a character is putting on a word without help.




Why?




This is petty, but Billy is such a cliche. I've never met someone who called himself Billy, but for some reason it's a stereotypical kid's name. If you think I'm reaching, watch for it, you can see it in other places. In this terrible strip for example.

Obviously this is a pet peeve.




Another unnecessary word.




"This is a school election" sounds better than "I'm running for class president."




The word political is unnecessary.




There are some writers who think that the exclamation point is an inherently weak punctuation mark, and that you should never use it. I don't agree - I think that because it's fallen into relative disuse, when someone does use it, it's jarring and lends emphasis to the sentence. But it doesn't work here. Why?




Most of the guy's dialogue ends with exclamation points. If it was just in the last panel, that would be OK. It would help deliver the punchline. But by the time we reach the last panel, we've become subconsciously dulled to it through overuse - it's not surprising anymore. We're not imagining anything he says with any particular emphasis. Notice how the girl's dialogue there takes center stage? There's a reason for that.




It's not that she's a girl that bothers me. I am fine with girls being shown as more intelligent than men, one-upping men in debates, whatever. It's that xkcd never depicts them in any other way. Can you imagine this comic if both of them were men? Or if their roles were reversed? Even the thought is bizarre. It's not how the world of xkcd works.

In the world of xkcd, men either act like women, or are inferior to them.




Despite what you may have heard, people's heads are attached to their bodies.




Just because you don't have recurring characters doesn't excuse your dialogue for being boring. This is utterly lifeless, substituting vanilla quirkiness for personality. These characters are not people, they are stage props with the single purpose of delivering the joke.

For an example of Randall doing this right, see this comic. He almost never does this right.

And then the dialogue in the last panel:





Not only is this not how people talk, it doesn't communicate the joke effectively. It does not flow from the rest of the comic - is the joke that he learned about politics from an inappropriate source (the internet), or that he was unprepared to give more than one reply (as people often are on the internet)? Both, apparently.




T-shirt money is not good motivation to make a comic. Without usable, honest feedback you cannot evolve creatively. Filler is never OK, especially if every comic is filler. It is insulting and a waste of the reader's time. Everything about this comic is wrong. This comic is a waste of your time.

Here's the revised comic, with my edits and Carl's punchline.




And here's what I think about the punchline.



Thanks for reading yo.

280 comments:

  1. The improved comic actually made me chuckle. The origional, not at all. It's sad, Randall has (usually) funny ideas but he's just a godawful writer.

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  2. jay! you have two EGREGIOUS ERRORS in this otherwise excellent post - when you strikethrough "some" in panel one, you have to strikethrough "of" as well - otherwise, as you have it now, you are suggesting "I'll try to fix of these problems."

    also, in your final comic, which is pretty great, you change "billy" to "john" in panel three but not in panel 4 - what I'd suggest is striking it entirely in panel 4. She already calls him by his name in panel 3, why should she do it again in panel 4?

    Hope this doesn't make you redo tons of work. ha ha, i know it will.

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  3. Ooh, I actually noticed the Billy thing like right as you posted. I like your solution better but at least it's consistent.

    I actually might have fixed the first panel thing like for seroius if a) it wasn't 2 AM and b) I hadn't already had to redo tons of work when I fucked up somewhere around edit 9. This is one battle I am willing to not fight. It will make me twitch though. The trials of obsessive compulsive disorder :(

    Thanks though.

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  4. This comment has been removed by the author.

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  5. You fail right off the bat for failing to recognize an effective method of establishing in medias res.

    After that, you somehow jump to the conclusion that a class president is going to have the team of writers and refined language of an actual presidential candidate, which is rather unrealistic.

    Your opinion on emphasis is duly noted, but it is neither a grammatical nor a typographical error, and in actual editing, would be left as the author intended it.

    The exclamation mark isn't necessary, agreed, but he is interrupting her derisively in the middle of a speech. One can hardly say its uncalled for. He's making an impassioned statement to the audience in the second panel, so to classify it as a mistake would be overstepping your editorial authority.

    You didn't support your deletion of "even" and "political", so I am assuming you don't have a precedent other than to add more red to the screen. "Even" was artistic choice, it can stand with or without it, so your deletion isn't wrong. Political should definitely be specified, as it hasn't yet in the comic.

    It seems you are grasping for straws.

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  6. I think the removal of words was based upon his previous statement, that less words makes the joke funnier. So that would be the rationale for the removal of "even" and "political".

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  7. You fail right off the bat for failing to recognize an effective method of establishing in medias res.

    Oh no, I recognized it. It wasn't effective.

    After that, you somehow jump to the conclusion that a class president is going to have the team of writers and refined language of an actual presidential candidate, which is rather unrealistic.

    I fucking knew someone was going to bring this up. Look, you read what I wrote about the three purposes of dialogue? It's common practice to write people as funnier or more articulate than they would actually be, because completely realistic dialogue does not read well. It's actually a journalistic trick to quote someone directly if you want them to sound like an idiot.

    I explained this.

    Your opinion on emphasis is duly noted, but it is neither a grammatical nor a typographical error, and in actual editing, would be left as the author intended it. ... so to classify it as a mistake would be overstepping your editorial authority.

    Nothing I changed was a grammatical or typographical error.

    You do not understand what an editor is.

    You didn't support your deletion of "even" and "political", so I am assuming you don't have a precedent other than to add more red to the screen. "Even" was artistic choice, it can stand with or without it, so your deletion isn't wrong. Political should definitely be specified, as it hasn't yet in the comic.

    I felt this was self-explanatory. They are blank space in the sentence, they do not add to the meaning and they do not read well. Every change I made was an artistic choice. That they are political parties is implicitly but clearly specified in the previous panel.

    I'm not prepared to call you stupid, but you don't understand what an editor is and I don't think you understand much about writing either. Your post is fallacy after fallacy.

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  8. by 'quote someone directly,' I mean exactly, verbatim.

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  9. So hey guys, here's an idea I just had: Rands doesn't have ads on his site, me reading the strip earns him squat. He gets income from selling merchandise, so... Would that not make the strip nothing more than an elaborate advertising campaign for a series of quirky accessories and apparel items?

    There's even the identity of "xkcd-fan" created which reminds me of how big companies try to force artificial identities and values on their customers to promote brand loyalty.

    That's not to say advertising is a bad thing and that xkcd is bad because of it, that's orthogonal to my point. But we have previously looked at xkcd in the context of art, comedy, narrative, "webcomic" (which is still a nebulous term for me) and so on, but not, to my knowledge, of ad campaign. Given that these have different objectives, our critique should also be different under the assumption of xkcd as advertising.

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  10. I want you to know that I checked all those pictures for alt-texts. Fuck you too.

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  11. NewerPostSubscribeToNovember 13, 2009 at 1:47 AM

    Ryan Learn,

    I agree in what you are trying to say, I guess, the post looks like cheap criticism, being so picky about every single word.

    But you are missing the most important point. The result is funnier than the original, so he might be right after all.

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  12. Holy smokes. Do not argue with Ryan Learn. This is taken from his blog:

    "If you're not a critically-thinking nerd, you may be offended. You'll survive."

    I for one am prepared to call him stupid.

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  13. re: the editing mistakes
    awww jay it's okay (i totally understand, i have mild ocd i am pretty sure) cuz

    re: the post
    really well done! i liked this new approach, the step-by-step editing. the only thing i disagreed with was "billy" and "political" (before parties) being a problem--billy is a name, it doesn't really matter except that it's a little too typical; i think the clarification of political parties is needed because "we don't have parties" is just the saddest thing to say

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  14. Isn't it a common criticism that the dialogue is unrealistic? And now you're saying that realistic dialogue is bad?

    I mean, obviously, no one wants ums and uhs all over the comic, but criticizing the "and" at the start of the comic is just ridiculous.

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  15. "Isn't it a common criticism that the dialogue is unrealistic? And now you're saying that realistic dialogue is bad?"

    It's about the balance between the three aspects of dialogue Jay mentioned. Don't think of it as realism being bad, it's a 'too much of a good thing' situation.

    Also I am pretty sure Carl's the one who criticises unrealistic dialogue. At least I don't know whether Jay ever said so, so I'm gonna give him the benefit of the doubt and assume he's consistent until someone proves he's totally a filthy lying hypocrite and then not give a fuck anyway.

    Also: Is there any chance of this becoming a weekly or bi-weekly or at lest monthly feature or something? This had been the most enjoyable XKCD Sucks post I read in a long time and I'd love to see more of its kind.

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  16. Jay...
    I *am* an editor, albeit a copy editor.

    Dare I say you don't know what being an editor means?

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  17. Ryan,

    I just checked out your blog. Are you sure you're an editor?

    Maybe editors haven't heard of spellcheck in the land you're from.

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  18. You're right, actually.

    There is no difference between Professional writing and a blog online.

    (Though, for the record, I edit LaTex documents, so I don't use an automatic spell check)

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  19. Ryan, I'm rather disappointed. None of your "Depressing Statistics" are depressing. Does anyone really care that there are more facebook users than jews?

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  20. #1. That's not what the post says.
    #2. I don't know? I know I don't care if anyone cares, its a hobby more than anything.

    Addendum: I did go over and check my blog(using spell check, I haven't proofread it), and found one typo on the first page, so I am not sure what the previous poster was getting at.

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  21. The purpose of an editor, a least where I work as a journalist, is not to fix errors in grammar and spelling; it is to ensure that what I've written is as concise and unambiguous as possible.

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  22. Dear Ryan, you may be a copy editor, but you wouldn't get shit for work from my publishing house. My production editor would refuse to pay you if we got back a manuscript and you didn't at least suggest some of those changes. There's more to editing than simply ensuring all the commas are in the correct place. Are you *sure* you're a copy editor? Are you maybe, perhaps a proofreader, who would be the one concerned solely about commas and correct spelling? There is no shame in proofreading. It's important. It's just substantially different from copy editing.

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  23. Ryan Learn: I was under the impression editors were supposed to understand the industry in which they were working. Apparently not! You don't even seem to understand the copyeditor very well, but that's neither here nor there--the point is there are many different types of editor, and most of them are not concerned primarily with grammar. Changes to language and structure are well within the purview of an editor.

    Generally speaking at a level beyond basic grammatical and house style issues, changes are suggested rather than enforced--that is, if the author for some reason thinks that he knows better than his editor, he is free to reject the advice in question.

    But there are many, many editors out there who exist to help improve a writer's works. What Jay has done is exactly that: he has gone through in detail and made suggestions for changes. A helpful editor (as in Jay's case) will suggest why this change is better, so that the rule can be applied in future cases as well, and also so that the writer understands why it is a better case.

    My stint as a copyeditor consisted of a lot more stylistic improvements than it did grammatical fixes (though there was at least one split infinitive).

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  24. Any editor who suggested this many changes would not last long, and despite what many of you have said, people eminently more qualified than you to render judgment on the situation (e.g. The Board of Editors of the journal I work for) seem to disagree, but as one of you said, that is neither here nor there.

    Any editor who attempted to bowdlerize an artists work this much would not last long. Whats the point of having a writer if the message is filtered down to its very core by an editor who seems to having 4 year old's in mind for his target audience.

    The main I do edit for ambiguity, and in science journal articles, there can be quite a bit of it. There is however no ambiguity in this strip, claiming such is moronic, the point is conveyed just as well in the pre-edit and post-edit versions.

    So while you all can insist this is good editing and ask for stuff like this once a month or so, this would get you fired were I work.

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  25. Oh dear, you work at a journal and still don't know what the function of an editor is? You really are terrible.

    And I'm sure you went to the Board of Editors and was like "THIS IS BAD EDITING ISN'T IT." HINT: just because they said "yes it is please go away" doesn't mean they agree with you!

    At any rate: there is no one claiming the comic is ambiguous; we are claiming that it lacks concision. Another thing editors are supposed to look for! Which you have apparently not heard of. The bulk of the changes made fell into this category--it took what Randall was trying to say and said it with greater clarity and concision. It is certainly still a thing that Randall wrote--it's just better written now.

    You (dubiously claim to) work at a journal, which means that the works you're considering for publication are written by people who, by and large, deserve to be published in your journal. As such, the function of the editor in these cases is (thankfully, in your case, as you are really fucking terrible at it) more limited, more subtle, more nuanced. You are not going to cover a well-written paper in red ink.

    But something which is a badly written--as in this case--is the sort of thing that you cover in red ink. Indeed, a good editor, if editing something which is utterly terrible (as in this case), will, in fact, cover that paper in red ink. This is something you won't run into when working at a journal, because you are only editing things which are being considered for publication--the sort of thing you would cover in red ink is discarded.

    But a freelance editor, or someone who is editing a work for a classmate, or, as in this case, someone who is editing a terribly written webcomic, may be dealing with writing which is poor, not because it is a first draft and needs some editing, but because it is utterly terrible and needs massive revision.

    Of course, this comic doesn't really get revised significantly--Jay's edit trims unnecessary language. The biggest change is replacing "I'm running for class president" with "this is a school election." The rest are minor.

    BTW!!! That is not how you use the word "bowdlerize." Bowdlerizing is the excising of objectionable material. This is merely the trimming of needless language.

    Seriously. You demonstrate the worst grasp of the English language of anyone I have ever encountered who claims to work in editing or writing--this on top of the worst grasp of the function of an editor and the industry in general of any editor/writer I have ever encountered. What journal do you work for? It should probably be made aware that its employee is incompetent.

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  26. You use MS paint! And I thouhgt the triassic age was over long long ago!

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  27. "If you're not a critically-thinking nerd, you may be offended. You'll survive."

    Wow. Have we found the ARCHETYPAL xkcd fan?

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  28. A self-proclaimed nerd who thinks that his shitty job as a proofreader gives him some sort of special insight into how one is allowed to edit a document, but is nevertheless wholly incompetent in the fields at which he claims expertise?

    I think we have.

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  29. HEY i use MS paint despite having cs4

    sometimes ms paint suits one's purposes better

    ryan, this is your cue to say "lol trolled"

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  30. Bowdlerize can denote any sort of excessive editing, for starters.

    Further, you claiming that I don't know what the function of an editor is doesn't make it so. Being that I demonstrate that function everyday, and people have deemed I do a good enough job to constituent seems to contradict this. I considered showing my credentials, just as I considered posting anonymously, but I went for the middle route, as I judged having my professional connections published on the internet to people who would vehemently disagree would be a bad idea, no?

    Your last point is the most (unintentionally) hilarious. To think I slipped through the cracks, fooling all of the colleges I applied to, the ACT, the College Board (On multiple occasions), and even the IB Grading Committees, into thinking I do in understand the English langauge. Its a good thing there is internet Rob to point out reality to all of these silly and obviously unqualified organizations.

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  31. Getting back to the topic of the comic though. This is a piece of creative art, more akin to creative righting than a newspaper article. Munroe's decisions, as the artist, should stand, with only edits for errors and ambiguity being made if they seriously damage the message of the comic.

    Your argument for concision would be valid for many other formats, but certainly not a webcomic. Munroe has demonstrate willful verbosity on numerous occasions, its part of his style. Any serious editing to his work would allow his style to remain.

    His work was just recently printed in a book, maybe you should email them and ask the editor of it how they felt and what corrections they made.

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  32. (hint: Randall Munroe was the editor of the XKCD book)

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  33. "To think I slipped through the cracks, fooling all of the colleges I applied to . . . into thinking I do in understand the English langauge."

    Into thinking I do in understand!

    "more akin to creative righting"

    Righting the wrongs of creatives EVERYWHERE.

    "Munroe has demonstrate"

    lulz

    "its part of his style"

    To quote a literary giant: Ohhhhhhh, if you want it to be possessive, it's just 'I-T-S.' But, if it's supposed to be a contraction then it's 'I-T-apostrophe-S,' scalawag.

    "Any serious editing to his work would allow his style to remain."

    Once again, you demonstrate a failure to understand the function of the editor. The editor is not there to proofread. The editor is there to make it better.

    Sucking is not style. This is like saying that if someone throws a paper full of adjective writing at me, and I trim down the adjectives to make it more active and less lame, it's not proper editing because their "style" is adjective writing.

    This applies just as well to creative writing, if not, indeed, more so--if all you are doing for a creative writer is fixing grammatical errors and making, you're doing him a serious disservice. Improvements to style are utterly paramount to success as a creative writer.

    Anyone who tells you that the artist's decisions are holy and inviolable is a dumbass, and has no business ever touching anything related to the writing industry. The artist is not always right. The artist is frequently wrong. It is the function of an editor to take the occasions in which the artist is wrong and suggest that perhaps he meant to write it in a way which doesn't suck.

    The function of an editor is to look at a shitty line--shitty because the artist made it that way, not because of errors--and to say "this line is shitty, you should improve it." It is especially true when the artist in question is an artist.

    It is the artist's prerogative to say "no, that was an intentional bad decision, I want to leave it as-is." It's just pretty generally a bad thing to do.

    I don't expect you to understand this, because you are a proofreader who has the editorial authority of the MS Word Paperclip. Your eminent complete lack of mastery over basic words and phrases would prevent you from ever having first-hand experience with making an editorial decision or improving a work beyond noticing that the author had a typo in the word "abscond."

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  34. oh and btw http://dictionary.reference.com/browse/bowdlerize http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bowdlerize

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  35. Rob, you've officially become my hero.

    And I agree. Journal editing is different from other editing. Journal editing, all you're doing IS proofreading. If you're doing more than that, you've misunderstood the job. Now that we know Ryan's a proofreader, we can take all his comments in the proper context. He's not coming at this from a substantive editorial view, or even as a copy editor. No wonder he didn't understand this post. He must not be in the target demographic. ;)

    Okay, less snarky, but just as true, conflating different types of editing, and editing different types of works require different standards. Ryan, as a professional, you should know this. Yet you seem damned and determined to impose the standards from your job on to a creative work. Journal articles are about as formulaic as you can get. Creative works cry out for a steady hand to improve flow, clear the deadwood, and strengthen the piece. If you're just letting the author write however they want, and only point out where they should have used a semi-colon to prevent that comma splice, you're not only failing as an editor, you're letting down that author, and everyone who will ever read his works.

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  36. Ah, sweet irony. It should have been "you're conflating different..."

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  37. Also, in a work of few words, every word takes on extra importance. A 2000 word story doesn't need every sentence to be utterly perfect. But if it's 20 words long, a single word or phrase that sounds off can basically ruin the whole thing.

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  38. Ooh, controversy. I love controversy.

    'manda: Thanks. Yeah, I debated with myself a bit on whether or not to include the Billy thing, cause it is so subjective. I decided to, obviously, because it REALLY bothers me, but I readily admit it is a pet peeve.

    Anon 3:55:

    Isn't it a common criticism that the dialogue is unrealistic? And now you're saying that realistic dialogue is bad?

    I mean, obviously, no one wants ums and uhs all over the comic, but criticizing the "and" at the start of the comic is just ridiculous.


    Nonono! The inclusion of and is neither realistic nor unrealistic. It doesn't make it more believable either way. The word adds nothing and sounds bad, so, you remove it.

    And like the dude below you said, you have to strike a balance.

    Dude below: Thanks. I'd certainly be open to doing this again, next time a comic comes along that deserves it. We'll see.

    Ryan: Yeah, um, what Rob said. You do not understand what you are talking about. I'll let him handle this.

    Other anon: sho' do. Even though I have Photoshop installed! I like paint's circle tool too much to switch. Does Photoshop have a circle tool? I don't know.

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  39. Once again, proof by assertuion is not a way of establishing truth.

    The largest part of my job, by and large, is getting the figures and tables given to us by the author into their correct positions in the LaTex docuement. Being that it does not have any relevance to the discussion, of course I didn't bring it up, and I focused more on the proofreading portion of my job.

    You, Rob, seem blisssfully unaware that "sucking" is entirely a subjective matter. Sure, you may think his style sucks, but it is his style nonetheless. The style that has made him sucessful I might add. To expect him to edit out this style and leave merely a lead-in to a punch-line is ridiculous.

    You also continue with your baseless assertion that I am at odds with the english langauge. Anyone knows (much less a statistician) that taking a sample one would see on this blog and making such definitive claims about intellect is absurd, yet you do it anyway. Please back up your claims with substaintial evidence or retract them.


    If that fails, I'm afraid that I am going to have to revert to your debate technique and merely repeat "You have no idea what you are talking about" ad nauseum.

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  40. How would that be different from what you're doing now?

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  41. I've yet to use an arguementum ad hominem. They aren't typically effective for rational discourse.

    I've also backed up my claims by statements of fact, though, granted, I haven't presented anything other than anecdotal evidence in support of them, but that is mostly owing to the constraints of debating on this blog.

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  42. ET TU BRUTE! I'm sorry, I just felt that I had to post this. XD

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  43. HEY

    you just me a chance to plug my FAVORITE LINK EVER

    You, Rob, seem blisssfully unaware that "sucking" is entirely a subjective matter. Sure, you may think his style sucks, but it is his style nonetheless. The style that has made him sucessful I might add. To expect him to edit out this style and leave merely a lead-in to a punch-line is ridiculous.

    please read this

    Take what you're saying to its logical conclusion. EVERYTHING is a style - there's no such thing as bad art. People shouldn't edit nor criticize even the worst piece of art, because art is subjective and it's just their opinion!

    You should be able to see for yourself how ridiculous that is.

    Unnecessary words are not part of Randall's style. That is not a style. Even when part of the joke is that a character is verbose (has Randall ever made a joke like this?), you use the minimum possible number of words to get the joke across. It's just more words than usual. Having dead weight in a sentence is not a style, it is careless incompetence.

    I am not writing this because I think I'll convince you. I will not convince you. But I do not want your false assertions to go unchallenged.

    I've yet to use an arguementum ad hominem. They aren't typically effective for rational discourse.

    you just gave me a chance to plug my SECOND FAVORITE LINK EVER! seriously I love this guy

    please read this

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  44. Ryan, seriously, give it up man. I mean, some guy goes and "fixes" a webcomic because he hated the wording. Then you come along, claim to be an editor (the idea is that you work on terribly written webcomics a lot and hence know a lot about this manner of thing) and then go about claiming all sorts of weird things. Then you make that post which has so many errors it looks like they are intentional. Moreover, turns out your "editing" consists of juggling around equations... What the hell does LaTeX have to do with terrible webcomics? And to top it off you go all "argumentum ad hominem" on our ass.

    What a frickin' colloqium litterarum stultum.

    My captcha, fords. It fords over rivers and fjords.

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  45. Why would you even want to blow-by-blow 'fix' this comic. Lay it off Jay. Randy only spends like 2 minutes on this everyday and you're fucking waiting for the moment it comes out and then, you write a thesis paper about how this comic systematically and effectively sucks.

    I agree to you that that comic sucked ass. You don't have to write a long researched and well-thought out paper. You're kinda making me believe the cuddlefish, because it does look like you are taking it way too seriously. Aww! you even print screened it onto paint and started making corrections!

    FFs.

    Look. The text is a bit meddled up, but not that bad. It would be the first to come to mind to write that kind of dialogue. I am really angry because I like this site. I really do, but your making the cuddlefish sound right. Seriously, you can write "billy" and "I'm running for class president." Would that really change the whole outlook? I didn't notice the difference between your finished comic and the original. It basically conveys the same message. Damnit! Don't do that ever again! And yes, that reminds me of the time one post said
    "it's not dammit! It's damnit! A contraction!"

    Hopeless. I'm really starting to believe those annoying XKCD fans. Now i sound all contradictory and stuff because I wrote a long speech too.

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  46. You know i really don't get the 15 stupid things about criticism. I mean, technically he is being an elitist when he said your opinion doesn't matter, and technically he is criticizing critics on critics. He's just an angry person who describes the 'fanboys' as weak pussies. Fuck him.

    For number five, is it really pleasure to say" aww man! This thing sucks ass! It really does! I hate it!" And give reasons about it and try to trump someone's work? If i was angry like thawt, I would leave it FUCKING ALONE.

    And the different opinions one is to just stop the critics saying how the opposing side are weak fanboy pussies.

    Seriously, he's just trying to throw together something because he's an angry gay trying to defend himself so he can bitch about more things. Most of the responses are indeed stupid, but some are common fucking sense.

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  47. "The largest part of my job, by and large, is getting the figures and tables given to us by the author into their correct positions in the LaTex docuement. Being that it does not have any relevance to the discussion, of course I didn't bring it up, and I focused more on the proofreading portion of my job."

    Document. And that is not how you use "by and large."

    And see, the fact that your job has basically sweet fuck-all to do with writing has a great deal to do with the discussion. See, if, for instance, your job is mostly to make sure there are no typos in a spreadsheet, but you also occasionally check spelling errors while you're at it, you are not a copyeditor, or at the very least you are not the sort of copyeditor who does anything remotely related to what copyeditors in every other sense of the word do--which is improve a text's concision, clarity, correctness, comprehensibility, and consistency.

    You are a formatting monkey. We are not dealing with format. Perhaps when Randall starts uploading LaTex documents and Jay starts talking about how it is formatted incorrectly you can complain. Until then, do not pretend that your job is remotely relevant to this conversation. Leave the writing and editing to the people who actually know how to do it.

    "You, Rob, seem blisssfully unaware that "sucking" is entirely a subjective matter. Sure, you may think his style sucks, but it is his style nonetheless. The style that has made him sucessful I might add. To expect him to edit out this style and leave merely a lead-in to a punch-line is ridiculous."

    Hahahahahahaha.

    Okay, take it from a creative writer: you are wrong. You are utterly, completely, totally, and in every conceivable way wrong. There is writing which definitively sucks. This is a common misconception among people who know sweet fuck-all about writing, or at in general: that it's all subjective, that one man's "good" is another man's "super excellent." Jay has already linked to a further explanation of why this is wrong, but take it from someone who knows.

    In my time editing works of creative writing I have encountered a lot of texts which have sucked. There is no standard under which they were good. I could dig up some examples if you liked. I've turned terrible documents into pretty good ones before. It took a lot of red ink. I have, as a point of fact, turned a terrible writer into a great writer before. It took enough red ink to drown Middlesex County. It was good editing, and most of it was done at the copyediting level.

    You could make an argument that it's more language editing than copy editing at this point--and you would be doing little more than arguing petty semantics on the same approximate level of arguing whether it's a truck or a lorry. It really depends on how the rest of your editing staff is set up. In my case, with the exception of a stint as a technical copyeditor, I freelance.

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  48. Let me go back to your assertion that as style is subjective you can't change anything stylistic. You seem to have missed the point earlier, presumably because you don't know what I was talking about because you know complete fuck-all about creative writing.

    Adjective writing sucks, and is a style. Let me repeat that with bold and italics:

    Adjective writing sucks, and is a style.

    Adjective writing is writing where you cram as many descriptions as possible into your sentences because you feel that it makes your writing more "descriptive." It is perpetuated by people who mistake good writing for writing with big words, and mistake having a large vocabulary as having the necessary skills to write. Adjective writers can improve if they receive (actively, not passively) sufficient editing and coaching.

    Adjective writing happens when a writer decides to take a sentence and describe everything in it. It is different, though related, to a tendency to pause and completely describe everything that the writer encounters. In this case, it is description where no description should go.

    (A few computers ago, I had saved a copy of the worst adjective writing I'd ever encountered. That is, alas, long gone.)

    At its tamest form it is merely adding adjectives before nouns--"Rosalind shut her blue eyes" instead of just "Rosalind shut her eyes." If her eye color is important, you find somewhere else to describe it. This way makes it sound like you are differentiating from her green eyes. The addition of adverbs makes it even worse: "Rosalind quickly shut her blue eyes." Your addition of the word "quickly" just slowed the sentence down. Often it involves replacing the proper noun with a word that is descriptive of the character in what is known as "the Burly Detective syndrome:" "The girl quickly shut her blue eyes." The worst of the adjective writers won't stop there. He'll further describe her eyes: "The girl quickly shut her opalescent blue eyes;" "The quirky young girl quickly shut her opalescent blue eyes."

    This has more than doubled the word count of the sentence, and all that has happened is eyes were being closed. This is bad writing. This is the sort of writing that needs immediate correction. It slows down the story, it fills the sentence with unnecessary detail, it makes the writing so dense as to be unreadable. It is the approximate equivalent of filming a sequence in super slow motion, except that you also chose a really terrible close-up camera angle to do so.

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  49. "You also continue with your baseless assertion that I am at odds with the english langauge. Anyone knows (much less a statistician) that taking a sample one would see on this blog and making such definitive claims about intellect is absurd, yet you do it anyway. Please back up your claims with substaintial evidence or retract them."

    What the fuck does "Anyone knows (much less a statistician)" mean? That is not English. By the way, English is capitalized, it is spelled "language," and it is spelled "substantial." My assertions are not baseless. You are clearly incapable of proper spelling. I have pointed out several of your errors, and they are statistically significant, and in many cases indicative not of typographical errors but a fundamental lack of understanding of the way the language works.

    You learn to differentiate the two if you spend enough time editing.

    And I have not challenged your intellect but your grasp of the English language. There is a difference! Unfortunately you are probably not able to grasp that difference. You seem like the sort of nerd who thinks that being intelligent means you are good at all things. I have a friend who is quite brilliant and also utterly unable to write in proper English. He, fortunately, has enough self-awareness to avoid asserting himself as an authority on language and the editing process. (Another of his skills is perfectly understanding where various parts of the creative and editing process go. He is a joy to work with.)

    Finally, repeatedly asserting that my claims are not substantive will not magically make the fact that they are based entirely on fact and common convention disappear.

    "I've yet to use an arguementum ad hominem."

    Argumentum.

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  50. "What the fuck does "Anyone knows (much less a statistician)" mean? That is not English."

    Ah, so the point of contention is that you are functionally illiterate. All this lead up for that revelation? What a waste of time. Yes, that phrase is English. I'll go one further and say that it has meaning. That may strain the mind of someone who thinks all writing, including creative writing, must be a vapid one liner that most pithily summarizes an authors point, but it stands as fact nonetheless.

    Yours (and Jay's) thoughts on subjectivity are so wrong I can't help but think the lack of courses on epistemology in the school system are to blame. Luckily I was able to take one, so I'm not so ignorant on the subject matter. If you are still in school, I would definitely recommend you see one out.

    As for Jay's two links.
    #1. What in gods name is "plover" and what on Earth makes him enough of a definitive authority on the subject for you to want to cite him.
    #2. Claiming that I have no clue what I talk about and don't have a grasp of English is trying to undermine the speaker and is not addressing the specifics of my argument. Seriously, just because a website claims the term is often misused doesn't mean you can post a link to that site and say "see, that wasn't an ad hominem. The definition on the page easily describes the fallacious arguments I am dealing with.

    Now back to Rob for a final point. Doing incredibly well on exam specifically designed to gauge ones grasp of the English langauge does convey (to me at least) that one does in fact have a grasp on it. If you disagree, then your issue is with the numerous independent exam firms that design the exam, not me.


    There, that was enriching.


    Also, you are wrong about by and large.
    http://www.thefreedictionary.com/by+and+large

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  51. Aren't the IB and ACT designed to show that you have the knowledge expected of a high school grad? You're the only person I've heard even mention the ACT after their first year or two of college.

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  52. No, they are college credit courses.

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  53. I'm pretty sure I took the ACT during my sophmore year of highschool, and the score was used during the admission process. The score let me skip over some of the low level required courses, but definitely didn't count as any sort of credit. I'll trust you on the IB - this is the first place I've heard of it, and the website doesn't do a good job of explaining what exactly it involves, but it sounds like good scores in the upper level program can count as credit at a lot of universities.

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  54. You're correct.
    I was only addressing IB in my answer, though I do think you can get very basic credit from ACT.

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  55. Sorry Rob, I have to call bullshit on this one. "Adjective writing sucks" is an opinion, not a fact, regardless of how many people agree. It's still subjective.

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  56. Sure, as much as anything else is subjective. Unless you want to obsolete editors and critics in general...

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  57. I'm not saying that criticism is invalid. Just that it is necessarily based on values and preferences which are not universally agreed upon.

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  58. Ryan,

    I wouldn't normally harp on the subject, but you did say you didn't understand "what the previous poster [me] was getting at."

    I checked your blog again. The front page still has at least six spelling errors (hint: Check your title!). A quick scan revealed at least a further three grammar errors.

    Your sarcastic assertion that there "is no difference between Professional [sic] writing and a blog online" implies that you believe there is an implicit difference, at least as far as quality of writing goes. I would urge you to reconsider this thought.

    You should always take pride in your written work, whether you are being paid for it or not, especially when it is thrust into the public sphere. People will look down upon your writing - and often skip it altogether - when they see that you do not take the time to edit it into proper English, whether or not the actual content itself is worthy of their time. Respect your audience and respect your work, by giving it the proper treatment it deserves. If you don't, you can hardly expect others to respect it as well.

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  59. What's so bad about ad hominem attacks? They win elections world wide, empower 24 hour news networks to brainwash millions during the off years, and, most relevant to this discussion, allow people on the internet to piss each other off. They are arguably the most important arguments of our time.

    I think you guys should stop attacking ad hominem attacks, because you're fags. I guess for that to be funny I should flip it, but I won't, because Ryan Learn is a douche.

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  60. To quote a certain one eyed carpenter:
    "You've never had any tiny bit of sex, have you?"

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  61. "Sorry Rob, I have to call bullshit on this one. "Adjective writing sucks" is an opinion, not a fact, regardless of how many people agree. It's still subjective."

    Well, sure, bad writers think that their adjective writing is awesome. This doesn't make it any less bad simply because it lacks some sort of universal standard. It is writing which is terrible. This is factual. Simply because some people are not aware of this fact does not make it any less terrible.

    It gets problematic when dealing with matters to which there is an art rather than a science, because people get it in their heads that since it's all opinion none of it matters. Nothing could be further from the truth.

    "Ah, so the point of contention is that you are functionally illiterate. All this lead up for that revelation? What a waste of time. Yes, that phrase is English."

    No, it really isn't.

    "I'll go one further and say that it has meaning."

    So what does it mean? I note you don't seem to be able to say.

    "That may strain the mind of someone who thinks all writing, including creative writing, must be a vapid one liner that most pithily summarizes an authors point, but it stands as fact nonetheless."

    I like how you don't even have the most basic understanding of what I've said so far. Nicely done!

    "Yours (and Jay's) thoughts on subjectivity are so wrong I can't help but think the lack of courses on epistemology in the school system are to blame. Luckily I was able to take one, so I'm not so ignorant on the subject matter. If you are still in school, I would definitely recommend you see one out."

    Hahahaha. "I took a philosophy class in college, and this means that I know everything about subjectivity." I'm quite familiar with epistemology, thanks. It isn't really relevant to the basic facts of the writing industry, though. I'm sure you'd love to go to every lit mag and freelance editor and writing instructor in the world and say "sorry, but according to my Intro To Philosophy class in college, you can't actually tell these writers you're dealing with that their writing sucks, because it's entirely subjective," but it won't change the way the world works.

    "Doing incredibly well on exam specifically designed to gauge ones grasp of the English langauge does convey (to me at least) that one does in fact have a grasp on it. If you disagree, then your issue is with the numerous independent exam firms that design the exam, not me."

    One's. Not ones.

    And no, doing well on tests indicates a talent for taking tests--oh, and I severely doubt that your definition of "incredibly well" matches up with my own definition of "incredibly well." But really if I don't believe that standardized tests are a good measure of intelligence--not entirely true, as I believe that those who value them highly are complete fuckwits--my issue is not, in fact, with the test-making agencies. They are not responsible for your complete failure to grasp the basics of the English language. You would still be an idiot if they didn't existed. No, my issue is with you.

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  62. Oh, by the way, I'd like to take this time to note that your original dispute involved your erroneous statement that this post is either Not Editing, or Overstepping An Editor's Bounds. I note that you have completely moved away from this argument; is it because your position is untenable or because you are not intelligent enough to maintain a cohesive position? Because whether your Intro To Philosophy course agrees with it or not, this is what editors do. What Jay has done is editing. The changes he made are entirely within the purview and function of an editor.

    You can write your Intro To Philosophy instructor if you like and tell him that some jerks on the internet disagree with your interpretation of his interpretation of subjectivity and knowledge. I'll even edit the letter for you.

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  63. You've really come out of the woodwork for this one, Rob. I'm impressed.

    And Ryan Learn, do you really believe that standardized tests are a reliable and definitive way to establish a basis of good writing? This seems to be the point you were trying to get across, which is rather amusing. I've yet to met one writer, editor, philosopher, anyone who is involved with the English language in a direct manner, on a day-to-day basis, who believes this. These tests are a way to confirm that the recipient has a basic grasp of the English language and can string together a sentence in a way compliant with the rules of standard English. They are NOT a measure of a good editor or writer; there is a big difference between being a competent writer, or editor, and being a skilled writer or editor. Please try to comprehend this: it is essential.

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  64. Why is there an argument here? Ryan, I find it hard to believe that you think the first unedited comic is better than the second one. It's not an issue of style, even the edited comic has Randall's style because HE FUCKING WROTE THE JOKE. The art, the format, the panels, the situation... EVERYTHING is his style. It's just a matter of tweaking the comic to be funnier, because he gets lost in his quirky dialogue sometimes.

    So get your panties out of a bundle and go blog about some lame internet statistics, putting your highly impressive IB and ACT scores to use.

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  65. "Oh, by the way, I'd like to take this time to note that your original dispute involved your erroneous statement that this post is either Not Editing, or Overstepping An Editor's Bounds."

    The reason we moved away from it is because you are entirely unwilling to substantiate any of your claims. You've even said that certain varieties of opinion should be treated as fact, which is dead wrong. Randall's style involves the use of a lot of verbosity, a style which has made him far more successful than any of you, I might add. To expect him to change it and cut directly to the punch line is ridiculous. An editor who tried to do such in a similar situation would find himself unemployed.

    Richard Dawkin's is an example of a writer who will belabor certain points and take as long as he wants to to get to a main point. Are you going to tell him he should modify his writing (and thereby possibly compromise his success) so that it may fall within some arbitrary guidelines you have established? That's ridiculous.

    In a word were your variety of editors are the majority, authors would be obsolete.

    "Anyone knows (much less a statistician)"

    I thought you would at least be intelligent enough recognize an idiom, but as it turns out, you are actually functionally illiterate.

    http://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/much+less

    Its a wonder you are able to even put together a semi-cohesive post. An splendid real world application of the Infinite Monkey theorem, I imagine.

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  66. Also, you display a profound amount of ignorance in the way the IB examinations are graded and administered.

    I would look it up before you continue to blather about it not accurately representing ones grasp of the English langauge.

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  67. Cuddlefish 4:11

    Your rant confuses me. I'll just hope you do not mean to suggest that "damnit" is the correct spelling. Just in case: "Dammit" is the correct spelling. "Dammit" is the one that appears in dictionaries.

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  68. I'm going to let Rob keep handling this, because everyone here knows what I think. Everything you say is wrong.

    But,

    I thought you would at least be intelligent enough recognize an idiom, but as it turns out, you are actually functionally illiterate.

    You are using it incorrectly.

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  69. Substantiate what you say, or, for the love of God, retract it.

    Proof by assertion, once again.

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  70. "Anyone knows (not to mention a statistician)"--that doesn't make sense. I'm trying a few other definitions here to make it make sense: "Anyone knows (most certainly not a statistician)"--nope, still makes no sense. I think the word you're looking for is "especially." It's hard to tell, though, since you are using a phrase which is literally the opposite meaning of what you appear to be going for.

    "The reason we moved away from it is because you are entirely unwilling to substantiate any of your claims."

    I have provided more substantiation for my claims than you have. I could go back and cite my sources, if you like. Unfortunately I don't have the time to contact every editor and writer I've interacted with. I am working from experience, the same as you. The exception here is that my experience is actually relevant to the topic at hand, whereas you are really nothing more than a formatting monkey. I have extensive experience with creative writing and editing and substantial experience with technical editing.

    "Randall's style involves the use of a lot of verbosity. . . ."

    Here's an XKCD widely considered a classic. It contains a single sentence. http://xkcd.com/55/

    I could find others. Almost universally the best and most memorable of them are not built on verbosity, but on a single concise, elegant line.

    "An editor who tried to do such in a similar situation would find himself unemployed."

    You should probably take up actually backing your claims. Have you ever, working as a formatting monkey at your journal, encountered an editor losing his job because he told a writer to trim significant sections of his work before he could consider it for publication?

    Because I've seen editors tell a writer to trim significant sections of his work before it would be considered for publication.

    "Richard Dawkin's"

    Dawkins.

    "In a word were your variety of editors are the majority, authors would be obsolete. "

    World. Where.

    It's funny, really. "My variety" of editors are the only kind you will find in any literary environment, whether employed at a lit mag or freelance. You will never find an editor at a respectable lit mag that does not suggest changes beyond your arbitrary "basic grammatical and typographical errors" limitation. You will never find a single freelance editor who doesn't make significant stylistic changes.

    "Its a wonder you are able to even put together a semi-cohesive post."

    It's.

    Anyway, as some dumbass on the internet once said: "Substantiate what you say, or, for the love of God, retract it." Take your own advice, please and thank you.

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  71. Nice assertion that my beliefs will lead to a dystopian future where there are no artists, by the way. I appreciate when someone's idiocy comes completely unhinged.

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  72. This comment has been removed by the author.

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  73. It's amusing to see you mumble on about proof by assertion when you display the exact same egregious disregard for evidence that you would project on others.

    Here, I'll give you a few examples: "I'll go one further and say that it has meaning." It's seems you forgot to actually provide evidence of the (dubious) "meaning" in your sentence. You might want to rectify that.

    "The definition on the page easily describes the fallacious arguments I am dealing with." Again, instead of just tossing assertions into the air, try to follow them up with evidence.

    "Luckily I was able to take one, so I'm not so ignorant on the subject matter." Please, expound. This is the internet; merely announcing that one has a degree, or took a class on a subject, just doesn't cut it. You're going to have to provide evidence of your skills and knowledge before they help your argument any. How do you honestly expect me to just accept your argument in quiet acquiescence, when you have provided little evidence for many of your basic assertions?

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  74. Bloody cookies. anyway, here is the summary of the post that I made and somehow managed to delete.

    Your pointing out of my typos is a red herring, and if you could stop for one second and actually address the points made, you would actually further the discussion.

    Secondly, I have substantiated all the claims I have made, to demonstrate this, I'll summarize the argument up to this point.

    Me- Hmmmm, these edits seem unnecessary, and where I work, doing this much editing would probably get you fired.

    XkcdSucksCircleJerkers(XSCJs)-Not uh, you don't know how to edit. Further, you go no grasp of the English language and everything you say is wrong.

    Me- I actually do have a position as an editor, and several tests designed specifically to measure ones aptitude in English disagree with you.

    XSCJs-Well, you suck at your job and standardized scores don't mean anything. Xkcd sucks, objectively. Further, anyone who disagrees with that is factually wrong.

    Me-This is the style that has made Mr. Munroe successful, regardless of your unsubstantiated "universally accepted literary standards." To take his dialogue and distill it to a lead-in to a punchline would compromise that style and perhaps his success.

    XSCJs- Sucking is not style, and remember, we have established Xkcd sucks as a fact. You are at odds with basic facts. Also, here are a few typos you made, which renders the argument containing them beneath my contempt, so I will ignore it and act like it has been addressed.

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  75. Doppler, to address your points individually.

    #1. I posted a dictionary link to the meaning in a subsequent post, after realizing he wasn't going to look it up himself.

    #2. Ad hominem is defined on the page. Reading the definition. I could have copied and pasted that definition, but I assumed people reading would click on the link. The links definition substantiates my argument.

    #3. I've already posted that the only thing I can support that with anecdotal evidence due to the constraints of arguing on a blog. If your standard of evidence is higher than that, please, by all means disregard it, but you would have to dismiss my opponents unsubstantiated creditability as well.

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  76. Yes, I'm a parody. Anyone who voices discontent on a this Minority-Majority site is obviously a parody.

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  77. Good Lord, Ryan, Rob pointing out your typos is just a way of showing how little you care about what you write. It's not a red herring; when a major portion of your argument comes from "I'm an editor" and yet you demonstrate a remarkable lack of skill in spelling, syntax, and organizing your ideas, this seems to substantiate Rob's claim that you are a "formatting monkey."

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  78. So you are saying that there is absolutely no distinction between arguing on a blog and editing a document?

    If not please expound.

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  79. Ok, Ryan, you got me on #1.

    For #2, I realize that my language might have been ambiguous. I will try to make it clearer. Please give evidence (as in, a direct quotation) that shows Rob using Ad Hominem.

    For #3, I wanted you to expound. I.e. give instead of saying you took a class. relay how that information you obtained there is relevant.

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  80. No, I am not saying there is no distinction between the two, I was merely pointing out that your marked indifference to trying to relay your posts in a smooth and polished manner undermines your position as an editor, at least on this blog. It's not a black and white thing.

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  81. "I don't expect you to understand this, because you are a proofreader who has the editorial authority of the MS Word Paperclip. Your eminent complete lack of mastery over basic words and phrases would prevent you from ever having first-hand experience with making an editorial decision or improving a work beyond noticing that the author had a typo in the word "abscond.""

    That is one of the few he has posted.

    As for #3, which part of my education are you referring to? If you had a specific question in mind, that would allow me to save time as opposed to going through every course I have taken and why each of them allows me to speak with a bit of knowledge on the subject.

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  82. Ryan Learn, I think you have failed to identify a fundamental tenet of this blog: its contributors and supports are UTTER rétards. They REJECT "Xkcd" as they are too insipid to comprehend it or too envious! This is their curse and they are to be pitied or putten out of their collective misery! (I have chosen to be merciful by instructing them).
    They have no lives, no integrity, no intelligence, no humour, no skill, no importance, no sex!
    They have NOTHING.

    I shall make them see the light.
    THE PENETRATING LIGHT OF LORD MUNROE.
    AND I AM HIS AVATAR AND HERALD.

    They ignore me now but soon I shall be WORSHIPPED as their ETERNAL SAVIOUR, for I shall have redeemed them!

    -William Montgomery Hughes
    Intelligence Quotinet 224
    "Cogito Ergo Sum"

    Post Scriptum: I, too, am seen as a parody. How droll.
    "When a true genius appears in this world you may know him by this sign: That the dunces are in confederacy against him." -William Monty Hughes

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  83. While I wouldn't say its indifference, I will admit not going out of my way to proofread each post.

    When I am at my job, there is only one thing on my mind, my responsibilities at that job, so it garners my full attention.

    Online while relaxing is different, as I am doing a multitude of things at once, so I do each one as fast as possible. Does my writing suffer as a result? You bet. Is it incoherent to the point that you can't get its meaning? No, otherwise Rob wouldn't know how to correct it.

    If I were sitting here, this blog being the only thing to hold my attention, then I could rightfully admonished for the typos. In any different situation, it is a red herring.

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  84. You're held to the same standard as evidence as they are Monty (can I call you that?).

    While not exactly relevant to the discussion, you'll have to back those claims up as well.

    Not to alienate my only ally/parody.

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  85. You might have a point there. However, it seems to me that Rob is not trying to undermine your argument per se, but rather the extent that you can use your background as an editor to assert that Jay's editing is unfounded. He's not saying your argument is false, (well, not in that sentence anyway)just that your job as an editor is not related to editing creative writing. The fact that he says this in an abusive way still doesn't make it Ad Hominem.

    And as a bit of my own personal experience, take it as you will, I am neither an editor or a writer. However, I do have friends who are writers, and it seems that editing stylistic elements is very much the norm. This is independent of whether it is good or bad; it is the norm. The source of contention may be that you edit for science literature, while Rob seems to be coming from a creative writing type of editing.

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  86. And the section of your education that I was addressing is epistemology. Instead of just saying "I took a epistemology course", try to bring the information you garnered there and use it in the discussion. Just saying "Go take an epistemology course" doesn't help me very much. The purpose of debate should be to educate, and you can't educate if you don't bring the relevant information to the table.

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  87. I think that if you take it in the context of his entire post, he is trying to undermine my argument by stating that I am a bad editor (unsubstantiated) and that I can't talk on the subject. That's my opinion on it though, and if you happen to disagree, fair enough.

    Here is something that I didn't catch the first time, and reveals to me that not revealing my professional affiliation to trolls on the internet was in fact a good idea.

    "What journal do you work for? It should probably be made aware that its employee is incompetent."

    All because I just so happen to disagree with him. Seriously, lighten up.

    I'll even admit that my position as a science editor may play a role into my disagreement with Rob, who evidently has some background in creative editing.

    I do make stylistic changes, clear up ambiguity, as well as make typographical and formatting changes. Using the knowledge gained from that experience, I found that most of Jay's edits were unnecessary, and didn't help convey the joke any better than the original, in light of Randall's style, in my opinion. He's free to disagree, but to treat his opinion on the matter as established fact is ridiculous.

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  88. Regarding your "typos:" Your complete disregard for the basics of the English language indicate nicely that the language is not your strong suit--and you have said yourself that your job consists primarily of formatting tables and figures. Your editing does not come into contact with creative writing at any point and only seldom comes into contact with writing in general.

    People who aren't good at the finer points of the language are usually pretty easy to spot by the frequency of elementary mistakes. It's more than just typographical errors--it's things like using the word "righting" instead of "writing," and putting in apostrophes in completely inappropriate places, and doing so consistently. It indicates that language does not come naturally to the person in question.

    This in itself isn't generally a failing. Not everyone can wield language with the precision of a scalpel; and for most purposes, any idiot, given enough time, effort, and preparation, can accomplish most things an elegant practitioner can do. There are generally two differences here.

    First, and the more salient but less relevant of the two: the elegant practitioner can do so without the time, effort, and preparation. Second, the elegant practitioner intuitively grasps the rules and tricks that make up good writing. He can spot patterns and learn adaptively. The aforementioned "any idiot" does not grasp these concepts intuitively; if he spots patterns it is because they have been pointed out to him; he can follow the rules but he does not fully understand them, and he will be hard pressed to apply them to others. Hence, time, effort, preparation.

    Just as it is perfectly acceptable for a man not to be a surgeon, it is perfectly acceptable for a man not to be a writer. Similarly, one should be dubious when a man who nicks his fingers carving an inelegant pumpkin claims surgical expertise over a man who is a licensed surgeon. (This is what is called a metaphor.)

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  89. I brought epistemology into the discussion because they were making statements of opinion into established fact.

    Jay and Rob love the edits they made, that much is obvious, to them however, anyone who doesn't agree with the edits is objectively wrong. End of discussion. According to them, in order to disagree, one must have a serious deficit in terms of understanding English.

    They treat their viewpoint as being the sole correct one out there, which is epistemologically unsound, which I attempted to bring to their attention.

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  90. I like for my post to be discussed. I like for it to be criticized, and I like responding to criticism. We haven't been doing that for a while, we've gotten sidetracked. Rob is welcome to keep up the crusade. He's right and I'm glad he's doing it, but to me the definition of editor, your straw men (1:26 PM) and your accusations of ad hominem are not very interesting.

    I'm going to ask you a question. You may have answered it already, but I don't think you've done it directly.

    Do you think the unedited comic is better?

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  91. "It is writing which is terrible. This is factual."

    You keep saying that, but you don't explain why it is so. What makes this statement a fact, and not just a nearly-universally held opinion? There must be a difference, else "argumentum ad populum" would not be considered a fallacy.

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  92. "People who aren't good at the finer points of the language are usually pretty easy to spot by the frequency of elementary mistakes. It's more than just typographical errors--it's things like using the word "righting" instead of "writing," and putting in apostrophes in completely inappropriate places, and doing so consistently. It indicates that language does not come naturally to the person in question."

    Substantiate your assertion that this is an effective method of gauging ones grasp of langauge and that it applies in all cases, including ones as informal as this blog.

    Once again, if there were the only thing I happened to be doing at the moment, then yes, your assertion is generally valid. Given that I am multi-tasking, as I always do in my leisure time, it holds no water.

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  93. Better in what regard?

    I never said your edits were bad, just unnecessary. I don't think the edits effect it one way or the other.

    On the other hand, I don't think the new punchline is funny. It smacks too heavily of 4chan. That's just my opinion of course.

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  94. You're free to criticize any changes I make. If you can make your case intelligently, I may even admit you're right! I have done this before. Take my removal of 'and' from the beginning. This is one of the edits I'm least sure about. I stand by it, but it would not be impossible to convince me I was wrong. My edits make the comic better, but editors can make their own mistakes. There is no one right truth, there are just lots of wrong ones.

    If you read the plover link, you know the difference between objectivity and intersubjectivity. Stop harping on objectivity in art.

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  95. "And" established the speech as being in progress. It provided context. Without it, one can conclude that the speech is just getting underway, is in the middle, or is wrapping up.

    Removing the "And" makes it ambiguous.

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  96. "I will fix these problems." Indicates that the problems were stated beforehand.

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  97. "Jay and Rob love the edits they made, that much is obvious, to them however, anyone who doesn't agree with the edits is objectively wrong. End of discussion. According to them, in order to disagree, one must have a serious deficit in terms of understanding English."

    You are free to disagree that the edits are necessary; this is not what you did. You disagreed that they were, in fact, edits. You were not merely suggesting that they didn't provide improvement; you were suggesting that they were not things that an editor does. You were, without base, challenging the very premise of these changes being editing at all. There is a difference.

    There's lots of people who have said they don't care about the changes in this thread. I personally could take them or leave them. But you're the only one who is challenging them on the grounds that they are not, in fact, edits.

    This makes you wrong.

    "You keep saying that, but you don't explain why it is so. What makes this statement a fact, and not just a nearly-universally held opinion? There must be a difference, else "argumentum ad populum" would not be considered a fallacy."

    I really don't have time to go through and demonstrate why bad writing is bad writing. If you legitimately and with good faith are interested feel free to email me. Otherwise fuck off.

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  98. "It smacks too heavily of 4chan. That's just my opinion of course."

    But that's the point! The boy learned his politics, and methods of debate, from the internet. And when Randall says "the internet" it is heavily implied that he means something like 4-chan. In that context, the edit greatly improved the comic. In my regard, anyways.

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  99. I understood it to mean the blogosphere, where you will always see a reply such as the one he gave.

    I would be surprised if I saw someone respond with a lament of the two-party system on 4chan. Trolls goading members of both parties into an argument seems to be more of the 4chan way.

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  100. Rob, please go back and reread my very first post.

    You and I seem to share the exact opinion on the edits.

    Wouldn't that be anti-climactic?

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  101. Just a bit of a curious aside Rob, but what is your opinion on a work such as "Finnegan's Wake"?

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  104. It would be anticlimactic if we were ever arguing about whether or not we liked the edits. You were always arguing that he was "overstepping his editorial bounds." You were attacking the process, and subsequently claiming that your formatting monkey job gave you special legitimacy to do so.

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  106. I specifically said that he was "grasping for straws" and making unnecessary edits. That is the entire crux of my argument.

    Also, I would prefer that you refer to my position by its title, copy editor. At least until you have seen an edit log of all the edits I make to an article before publication, at which point you can distill it into a pithy derogatory name.

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  107. No, I think I'll call you a formatting monkey.

    But let's examine this false assertion of yours, shall we? Here is an excerpt from your first post. Emphasis mine.

    "Your opinion on emphasis is duly noted, but it is neither a grammatical nor a typographical error, and in actual editing, would be left as the author intended it.

    The exclamation mark isn't necessary, agreed, but he is interrupting her derisively in the middle of a speech. One can hardly say its uncalled for. He's making an impassioned statement to the audience in the second panel, so to classify it as a mistake would be overstepping your editorial authority."

    Jay then responded that "you don't understand what an editor is and I don't think you understand much about writing either."

    Then you responded: "I *am* an editor, albeit a copy editor.

    Dare I say you don't know what being an editor means?"

    Then comes my first post! It is entirely about the role of editors. You then proceed to say that "Any editor who suggested this many changes would not last long" and that "people eminently more qualified than you to render judgment on the situation . . . seem to disagree." (I assume you did not, in fact, ask them their opinions about this comic and are simply extrapolating from your shitty formatting monkey position. Please correct me if I am mistaken.)

    Then I respond, with more about editors. Then you respond asserting that your standardized test scores make you an English language supergenius, and follow up by asserting some sort of knowledge about the creative editing process which you clearly lack. My response is once again about the editing process, then you talk about your job as a formatting monkey, and even more disproportionate defense of your eminently lacking skills at the English language...

    So far in my re-reading of the conversation neither of us have made any real claims about the edits in question, though at one point I did say that the comic was not concise, and I agree. This was not, however, intended to argue that the edits were necessary so much as that they were editorial.

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  108. Again, Cuddlefish: if you are interested in the conversation you can find my email pretty easily. I don't want to have it here.

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  109. It would have been overstepping his authority to remove the exclamation mark intended by the author.

    What you seem to be saying is, that no matter how many unnecessary edits (the words I used) and editor makes, as long as the message of the author is at least mostly retained, the editor isn't in the wrong?

    That's bullocks.

    You also seem to be saying that doing well on exams such as English A1 Higher Level doesn't say anything about ones grasp of the English langauge.

    That too, is bullocks. It is exactly what they are designed to measure.

    What it seems to boil down to is that because I would not have made those edits (due to my opinion on them) and because I think unnecessary edits like that would have upset my board of editors, I have no idea what being an editor means.

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  110. No; it is that because you are telling other people that they are not practicing "real editing and saying that making edits is overstepping their editorial boundaries and arguing that the editor's role is never to make changes beyond fixing grammatical and typographical errors. Which is what you have actually been saying, as I just wrote, in the post where I went back and looked at what you were saying.

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  111. @Rob

    Fair enough. We might just have to agree to disagree on this one.

    I hope we can still be e-friends :)

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  112. http://www.overcompensating.com/posts/20091021.html

    Asking boring questions is forgivable.

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  113. That is not what I am saying at all. I offered my opinion on the matter, and you came out and said that my opinion was factually wrong. I never said that the editors role was only to make typographical and grammatical corrections.

    What I did say something he removed was not an error, and was unnecessary, and that I wouldn't have done so.

    I will admit I should have been a little more explicit in the following quote, but someone such literary credentials as yourself should have been able to infer the meaning from the context of the entire post, which as I have repeatedly stated, was a statement of opinion.

    "Your opinion on emphasis is duly noted, but it is neither a grammatical nor a typographical error, and in actual [my] editing, would be left as the author intended it."

    My question on "Finnegans [sic] Wake" still stands, if you care to address it.

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  114. "neither a grammatical nor a typographical error, and in actual editing, would be left as the author intended it." "so to classify it as a mistake would be overstepping your editorial authority." "Dare I say you don't know what being an editor means?" "Any editor who suggested this many changes would not last long," "Any editor who attempted to bowdlerize an artists work this much would not last long. Whats the point of having a writer if the message is filtered down to its very core by an editor" "The main I do edit for ambiguity . . . There is however no ambiguity in this strip, claiming such is moronic, the point is conveyed just as well in the pre-edit and post-edit versions." "this would get you fired were I work." "This is a piece of creative art . . . . Munroe's decisions, as the artist, should stand, with only edits for errors and ambiguity"

    These are not only things where you are making assertions that Proper Editing doesn't make stylistic changes, but they are also the only things I was responding to.

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  115. @Rob

    Point taken. I therefore change my above statement to "I hate arguing online, so let's just drop it for now."

    (Hey, look at all that hardcore being a total pushover I just did!)

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  116. None of those quotes have me saying that Proper editing doesn't make stylistic changes. Please differentiate "stylistic editing" and "excessive editing" in your mind, as I am addressing the latter, and not the former.

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  117. Mostly I just hate having two arguments in the same thread, especially when one of them is tangential and mostly involves a lot of theory and is generally not very interesting.

    But yeah "agree to disagree" is for fatties.

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  118. "neither a grammatical nor a typographical error, and in actual editing, would be left as the author intended it." "so to classify it as a mistake would be overstepping your editorial authority." "This is a piece of creative art . . . . Munroe's decisions, as the artist, should stand, with only edits for errors and ambiguity"

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  119. In my editing, it would be left as the author intended it.

    Also, in this particular instance only the edits for made errors and ambiguity should stand, which I did specify.

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  120. I'm not sure why you are arguing that this conversation was not about whether or not it is the role of the editor to make substantial changes to a creative document. That is what it was about. That is eminently what we were both talking about. Revisionism doesn't work when there is a log right fucking there.

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  121. Doppler: I am so glad you exist.

    Rob: I still hate you but you are basically a winner here.

    Cuddlefish Prime: It's okay! I still love you and that is what matters.

    Ryan: You should probably learn when it is best to stop talking. (Hint: it usually is always best to stop talking when you are arguing against Rob, who generally knows what he is talking about, and wouldn't argue with you otherwise.)

    Jay: ADD ME ON FACEBOOK, YOU FIEND.

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  122. "Unnecessary words are not part of Randall's style. That is not a style. Even when part of the joke is that a character is verbose (has Randall ever made a joke like this?), you use the minimum possible number of words to get the joke across."

    How about Gravitational Mass? Does "skipping the rest of the buildup" count as using the minimum possible number of words?

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  123. It only seems like revisionism because I have to spell out each individual point in terms which you can actually understand.

    I never said it was not the editors job to make substantial changes. It is an editors job to make necessary changes. If an edit is unnecessary, it shouldn't be made.

    That has been my position this entire time.

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  124. http://xkcd.com/258/

    That's the one that comes to the forefront of my mind.

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  125. "Any editor who suggested this many changes would not last long"

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  126. I stop talking when all the points are addressed.
    So far I have seen very few points of mine addressed, so I'll be here until they are or the conversation is over.

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  127. Note the complete lack of talking about necessity there! See also: "Any editor who attempted to bowdlerize an artists work this much would not last long."

    Here you are just straight up saying that removing substantial amounts of text from an artist's work is something that editors do not do. Nothing about necessity.

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  128. Yes, this was an excessive amount of changes. There is a difference between substantial and excessive.

    http://thesaurus.reference.com/browse/excessive

    So stop acting like they mean the same thing.

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  129. rob has addressed ALL OF YOUR POINTS, man

    except that one about "what do you think about finnegan's wake" or whatever

    also why do you keep deleting your posts, and posting like six times in a row? i admit to doing the same thing occasionally, but can't you think your arguments through a little before hitting "post"? (perhaps edit your work, hmmmm? zing!)

    (was that even a zing)

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  130. #1. Back that up, please.

    #2. Red herring much?

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  131. lulz. I've responded to every one of your points, dude. Now you're backtracking and trying to convince yourself that this whole time you were talking about something which you quite obviously never were. It's really no credit on you if that is somehow what you meant, even ignoring all of the manifold points where you are obviously referring to something else. (You know, the ones I have been quoting.) If you are really not even capable of clearly conveying what you are talking about, to ANYONE HERE, you should probably take a vow of silence. It can only go downhill from here.

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  132. Sigh. Substantial. Definition 1. of ample or considerable amount, quantity, size, etc.

    Don't play the dictionary game with me. You will lose.

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  133. That is another instance proof by assertion.

    I have repeatedly said that I have no problem with substantial editing, but do have a problem with excessive editing. The subtle difference seems completely lost on you, to the point where you would spend this entire time arguing for a position I essentially agree with.

    None of my quotes have derided editing for being substantial, merely excessive. If I am mistaken on this point, please cite where.

    The sad thing is that it doesn't strain credulity to have someone schooled in a field so lacking in rigour act so self assured.

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  134. "Sigh. Substantial. Definition 1. of ample or considerable amount, quantity, size, etc."

    That is not the same as excessive. Get that point down and you will suddenly realize how asinine you are acting.

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  135. I love this thread so much I decided to use tissues this time.

    By all means, continue.

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  136. what do you want me to do to back that up? you want me to copy and paste all the comments for you or something?

    and do you even have a sense of humor, or are you one of those people who takes the internet seriously? every goddamn thing is a red herring to you.

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  137. Ryan, maybe I'm missing something, but where exactly is the magical line between "excessive" and "substantial?" How do you determine that Jay's editing is excessive rather than substantive?

    "The sad thing is that it doesn't strain credulity to have someone schooled in a field so lacking in rigour act so self assured." Way to refrain from insulting someone based on their background!

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  138. I like to think I have a sense of humor. I'm an xkcd fan though, so I guess not.

    I have been watching all of last weeks Colbert Report's on hulu during the course of this discussion though.

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  139. "Way to refrain from insulting someone based on their background!"

    It was overdue. The first thing I usually say to people who aren't physics/mathematics students is "Oh..., you're a [insert discipline here]".

    Excessive is more than necessary. Substantial is just a lot. If a lot of edits are needed, then making a lot of edits isn't excessive.

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  140. Heh. Fun fact: you do not know what field I am in. Just FYI. You're free to assume that a background in creative writing explains everything about me, but you are, as a point of fact, wrong.

    "I have repeatedly said that I have no problem with substantial editing, but do have a problem with excessive editing. The subtle difference seems completely lost on you, to the point where you would spend this entire time arguing for a position I essentially agree with."

    Cute, but that sort of debate club shit doesn't fly with me.

    See, here's the difference: "excessive" is entirely a value judgment in this case. The thing which made these edits, in your opinion, "excessive," is that they were substantial--though I don't believe they were that, either. The writing survived. Barring the change to the punchline, if you presented the edited comic to someone who had seen the original I doubt they would even be aware there was a change.

    You're saying that what you were arguing is essentially a tautology: that things which are excessive are excessive. That's not a useful statement. Are you telling me that what you were saying all along is nothing more than "I just think that excessive things are too much?"

    No, you were implying that the substantial nature of the edits made them excessive.

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  141. wow, so you throw "red herring much" in my face, and then say all this crap about how being a fan of xkcd will mean you have no sense of humor?

    RED HERRING MUCH?

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  142. Ryan, please don't insult my intelligence like that. First: define what kind of language is necessary to be used a vehicle that both carries, and enhances, the idea carried therein. Then determine how much. Now: does Jay's editing violate those standards? Yes? Ok, we just got rid of the ambiguities! Now we can have a proper discussion.

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  143. Amanda, he was making a joke about how, here, xkcd is shown to be unfunny, but he likes xkcd. Thus, he doesn't know what funny is.

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  144. What is excessive varies from article to article.

    "I personally could take them or leave them."

    Here we agree that a lot of the edits were unnecessary. Good, we have that agreed upon.

    Now lets turn back to what the dictionary says about excessive.

    "exceeding what is usual, proper, necessary, or normal"

    So, he made more that the number of edits that was necessary. Therefore, he made excessive edits.

    Q.E.D.

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  145. My line about xkcd was a joke. Apologies for not making that clearer.

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  146. "What is excessive varies from article to article." Which is why I'm asking you to define it here. You have yet to define "necessary", so how can you assert that the edits are excessive? Obviously, you have defined what is necessary in your head, and are using that to come your conclusion. Unfortunately, the contents of your mind are not within my purview; you will have to put it down, in writing.

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  147. okay and my line about you editing your shit was a joke too

    no apologies for not making that clearer, cuz it was pretty clear

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  148. anon 4:51, i got that. except that "he doesn't know what funny is" is not a logical conclusion to "he likes something that isn't funny." just because i like trees doesn't mean i dunno what funny is, either.

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  149. And by "define" I don't mean "give me the definition of the word." Give me what "necessary" means in this context.

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  150. He was sarcastically implying that because xkcd is a bad comic, then he has bad taste. Yeah, I know, sorta stupid. Maybe the meta-joke is that he really isn't funny? (I'm anon 4:51)

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  151. anon, it's really okay. i did get it. i'm just saying that he was being a jackass by saying something like that after saying "red herring much?" to me.

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  152. An necessary edit is one that, if not made, detrimentally affects the final product.

    As I have stated, the removal of "And", which is used to establish the scene as in media res, actually hurts the final product (In my opinion). I have similar feelings about removal of the word "Political." Edits that don't effect the finish product (the exclamation mark and the even) one way or the other would not fall into my definition of necessary, as outlined above, would be excessive.

    Rob has already admitted he feels the edits aren't necessary, so I fail to see what he is getting at.

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  153. "anon, it's really okay. i did get it. i'm just saying that he was being a jackass by saying something like that after saying "red herring much?" to me."

    The true irony of the matter is you saying this after speculating that I take the internet too seriously.

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  154. I was asking for a definition in context of the situation, not a broad one that ultimately becomes tautological in nature. Do you understand what I'm getting at?

    Still, I agree with you about the "And" edit, as well as the "political" one. Perhaps I misunderstood your position on the matter.

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  155. i don't see how i'm taking the internet too seriously just because i think you are a jackass

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  156. Sugar, you aren't very good at this at all.

    Okay, so let's say that excessive means "exceeding what is usual, proper, necessary, or normal." Yes? "Usual" and "normal" mean approximately the same thing in this context, so we'll roll them together for the sake of not repeating ourselves.

    In this sense, normal is used in the sense of "usual," which in this case clearly refers to that which is commonplace. So, let's say that it is commonplace to make 5-10 changes per page. This means that any changes more than 5-10 is excessive--because excessive is defined as "exceeding what is normal," and 5-10 is normal.

    Let's examine necessary further, now. If you actually use this definition, this actually strengthens my original argument regarding your beliefs in what "real editing" is.

    So, let's assume there is a document where there's a page where the editor is uncertain about a phrase--say the "at him" "She smiled at him." The editor decides to cut the "at him," though it is far from necessary. By these standards, he has just made excessive edits and would thus lose his job.

    So I'm going to reject your definition of excessive here. It doesn't work.

    Let's try on a few others. "Exceeding a normal, usual, reasonable, or proper limit." I like this one. It speaks of the reasonable--excessive is not just "more than normal," it is "going beyond a limit." It implies excess in the sense of decadence and superabundance.

    But I really like this one, because legal definitions require precision that normal definitions usually leave to connotation: "Exceeding what is proper, necessary, or normal; specifically, being out of proportion to the offense."

    The thesaurus is also instructive: "inordinate, undue, unreasonable, extravagant, exuberant." All of these imply that which is not merely "more than is needed" but that which is decadently over the top--that which is disproportionately large, that which is, to quote another definition of excessive, "characterized by excess."

    In none of these senses were the edits of Jay, nor any of the example edits I have given above, excessive.

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  157. I'm not sure how fine a point you want me to put on it.

    What I am saying is, if you think the final product can be just as good with or without a particular edit, then you don't make that edit.

    Amanda, if I am able to offend you and cause you to use offensive langauge in the comments section of a blog, then you are taking the internet too seriously.

    Also, you are right, I am a bit of jackass. I get by.

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  158. It is telling that you ignored the word "necessary", despite being in the definition you and I posted. You only addressed "usual" and "normal."

    You have already admitted he made edits that were not necessary to the comic. Give it up.

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  159. You also can't throw out definitions of a word merely because they undermines your argument.

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  160. wait i can't use offensive words without taking the internet too seriously? hahahahah what??

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  161. That isn't what I said. I said if you are capable of being offended by an blog comment, you are taking the internet too seriously.

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  162. please tell me when i got offended, because i sure as hell didn't notice

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  163. I did not ignore necessary. You may recall reading the paragraph that reads "Let's examine necessary further, now. If you actually use this definition, this actually strengthens my original argument regarding your beliefs in what "real editing" is?"

    What I am saying is, your view of editing is fundamentally flawed because you are a glorified formatting monkey. Edits are made all the time based on what is ultimately an editor's personal whim--suggestions to change something, not because the existing thing is bad, but because it's possible the new change is better. Something for the author to consider, if nothing else.

    In cases such as my "She smiled at him" example, it is essentially so minor that it doesn't alter the work--it's a case of "it bothered me, so I got rid of it." In cases where it is a suggested change which is more substantive but not correcting something which is bad--presenting an alternative perspective--it's more in the spirit of "nothing ventured, nothing gained." Sometimes an idea strikes and it is worth pitching, even if that idea is ultimately no better or worse than the sentence it is replacing.

    "You also can't throw out definitions of a word merely because they undermines your argument."

    I threw out your definition because it is so broad as to be meaningless--which is, by the way, one of the best tests of whether or not a definition is useful.

    See, here's the thing with definitions, especially when you are quoting the dictionary like a bible. They are pretty damn squishy. There are connotations to deal with. What you definitely can't do is just find a definition you like (I note you have used multiple dictionaries in the course of our discussion), read it, and declare that to be the law of the land.

    To do so is to ignore many facets about the word. Most important are the connotations, and also the trickiest to define--but it is an amateurish error indeed to assume that connotations are not part and parcel of the word in question. Often looking at the thesaurus helps with connotations, but be careful that you are looking at the thesaurus for the correct sense of the word.

    It also ignores the other definitions, both within the same dictionary, and within other dictionaries--examining the word from every possible sense. This is especially critical in avoiding simply reading through the dictionary to find a definition that you like, which is pretty much only a useful thing to do in high school debate club when you have no ground to stand on.

    Once you've done this, it helps to look for holes in the word's usage as defined. When a word has many definitions, this can be impractical, but it is usually easy enough to do--if it is absurd to use your definition, as in this case, then your definition does not work.

    It helps to remember what you intended by using the word--so go back to what you were saying earlier. "Any editor who suggested this many changes;" "attempted to bowdlerize an artists work this much;" "doing this much editing." You are discussing quantity here, not necessity. And your quantity is clearly not just "more than normal," as the definition you proffered would suggest. No, you feel that the edits here are inordinate in quantity, that there is a massive transgression going on.

    And you're wrong, because you're an idiot.

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  164. That is why I include the corollary regarding offensive langauge previously.

    By getting upset and dismissing me as a jackass, you did seem to indicate you had taken offense at something I said.

    You also seem to be taking offense at the notion that you took offense earlier.

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  165. HEY GUYS I'M GOING TO LET YOU FINISH THIS CONVERSATION BUT REAL QUICK I JUST WANTED TO SAY THAT I THOUGHT BEYONCE HAD ONE OF THE BEST MUSIC VIDEOS OF ALL TIME.

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  166. ryan, let me ask you again: when did i get upset?

    i am certainly getting more and more confused by you, you seem to think you have the ability to make me upset. unfortunately you are wrong, and whatever i seem to be, i am just thinking you are more of an idiot by the second. let me clarify that this is not something that requires me taking offense at anything you have said or done.

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  167. "I threw out your definition because it is so broad as to be meaningless"

    It was not so broad as to be meaningless. I would never (intentionally) make an unnecessary edit, and my supervisor has stated not to make any unnecessary edits.

    What you are attempting to do now is throw up a literary smoke screen as to why it is okay to ignore the definition of a word, the definition of the word I clearly intended.

    Explain to me again why it is meaningless, and, for the record, your false dichotomy of "make and unneeded edit, get fired" won't cut it.

    Quoting one out of context is a creationist tactic, unsurprising since you seem to know just as much about rigour as they do. It is not however an effective debate method. Go back, read those quotes of mine you posted in the context which they originally appeared, which was discussing this argument in particular.

    "it's more in the spirit of 'nothing ventured, nothing gained.'"

    An editor who takes artistic license with someone else's work? For shame.

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  168. Listen. Dude. I have read the context of the quotes I just pasted like fifteen times tonight. I have pasted the full context most of those times. I was just tired of looking at it. I know the context, intimately. I'm familiar with it. You are free to control-F and go back and read the originals; I really just wanted search fodder.

    "It was not so broad as to be meaningless. I would never (intentionally) make an unnecessary edit, and my supervisor has stated not to make any unnecessary edits."

    I note you are carefully saying "unnecessary" here, rather than "excessive."

    "What you are attempting to do now is throw up a literary smoke screen as to why it is okay to ignore the definition of a word,"

    No, what I am attempting to do is introduce you to the concept of proper use of a dictionary. The dictionary is a helpful tool in understanding language, and an excellent springboard for discussion and further analysis of a word. It is a terrible prescriptive "this is how the word is used" tool, which is how you used it.

    "the definition of the word I clearly intended."

    As I have already shown, you did not clearly intend it. It is a very Creationist tactic to assert, merely because the full paragraph is not quoted, that a quote is taken out of context. (Try quoting anything less than a complete chapter of the Bible at them and they will use this line. In their estimation, the entire Bible is considered context.)

    "An editor who takes artistic license with someone else's work? For shame."

    See, you say things like this, and it just makes me sit and wonder what the hell you think it is an editor does. Like, I am legitimately convinced you have literally no understanding of the editorial process for creative works. There's just no other explanation for how ignorant you are.

    So, let's imagine I've just given a work of fiction to an editor. What happens after that? What does the editor do to it? If it is helpful I can provide you a manuscript to work with.

    "Go back, read those quotes of mine you posted in the context"

    dealing with this in another post

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  169. So why again, is it so broad to be meaningless?

    Because you said so?

    I did intend it to mean "more than what is necessary," and if you think you can put thoughts into my head and say "no, that is not what you intended at all", then you are unhinged.

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  170. Your quotes, in their context. This was in response to my assertion that Jay's editing is by necessity detailed, as it is intended primarily to help improve the work in question rather than simply clean it up. Here is your response:

    "Any editor who suggested this many changes would not last long, and despite what many of you have said, people eminently more qualified than you to render judgment on the situation (e.g. The Board of Editors of the journal I work for) seem to disagree, but as one of you said, that is neither here nor there.

    "Any editor who attempted to bowdlerize an artists work this much would not last long. Whats the point of having a writer if the message is filtered down to its very core by an editor who seems to having 4 year old's in mind for his target audience."

    All of this deals with excess in the sense that it is normally used--cutting of work to a degree which is considered unreasonable.

    This one has the context of "you attempting to summarize, but being a complete fuckwit in the process." It is not in response to anything.

    "Hmmmm, these edits seem unnecessary, and where I work, doing this much editing would probably get you fired."

    I give you credit for actually using the word "unnecessary" here, but the second half of this sentence quite literally says that "doing this much editing [that is, editing in this much quantity] would probably get you fired." That is to say, "it is the volume of edits that makes this excessive. Their lack of necessity is at best secondary."

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  171. "So why again, is it so broad to be meaningless?"

    I have dealt with this already multiple times. Please learn to read.

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  172. And every, single, bloody one of those refers to this particular instance of excessive editing.

    "Any editor who suggested this many changes would not last long, and despite what many of you have said, people eminently more qualified than you to render judgment on the situation (e.g. The Board of Editors of the journal I work for) seem to disagree, but as one of you said, that is neither here nor there."

    Yes, if anyone recommended that number of unnecessary edits for any sustained amount of time, they would be let go.

    "Any editor who attempted to bowdlerize an artists work this much would not last long. Whats the point of having a writer if the message is filtered down to its very core by an editor who seems to having 4 year old's in mind for his target audience."


    See above. He made and excessive number of edits which I had already pointed out were unnecessary. I did that in the first post. Merely because I did not repeat they were unnecessary in every subsequent doesn't mean I wasn't referring to the large number of unnecessary edits he made.

    There, now that I have had to explain the concept of a train of thought to you, we should be able to proceed with the discussion.

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  173. I have dealt with this already multiple times. Please learn to read.

    I've already told you that your logically fallacious false dichotomy "dealing" with it won't cut it.

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  174. "I've already told you that your logically fallacious false dichotomy "dealing" with it won't cut it."
    Wow. Just wow. This is one of the worst sentences I've read in a long time. How is "dealing" with something a false dichotomy? How do you even call that "logically fallacious?" Do you even realize what you're saying or do you just spew whatever first comes out?

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  175. Do you even know what particular sentence I am referring to, or are you just another poster here looking to join the circle jerk that is deriding xkcd and anyone who would dream of defending it against anything?

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  176. Dude, you're in no position to demand that I respond to your points in a fashion that pleases you. You're fortunate I deign to talk to you at all.

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  177. I could care less about what you or Rob are trying to say in this silly little debate; that was just one of the worst sentences, from a syntax point of view, that I've seen all day. And this little argument you're having isn't about xkcd -- it's about you being a fucking idiot. Last I checked, both you and Rob were in argument about the actual edit.

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  178. Ah, messed up there. That should be "agreement."

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  179. Fortunate? If I wanted to be blathered at by some liberal arts airhead, I could walk across the hall. There is no shortage of them even at a tech school.

    I don't think that asking you to respond in a logical sound manner is too much to ask. Evidently I am mistaken.

    I do credit you for admitting that you don't feel the need to a respond with sound logic though.

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  180. No; he has deluded himself into thinking my statement that "I could take it or leave it" means the same thing as his "I think these edits are bad, unnecessary, and excessive."

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  181. You're opinion is duly noted.

    Why is it relevant though?

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  182. I've already responded with sound logic to every single one of your points. I grow weary of repeating myself, especially now that you have fallen into simply responding to my posts with one-line nitpicks rather than actually responding to the content in the least.

    For instance, you have ignored my request to explain what you believe the editing process for a work of creative fiction looks like. You seem to think you have some basic knowledge of what that is; surely you can at least produce an outline.

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  183. "I could take it or leave it"

    That does mean the same as unnecessary.

    I suppose if you can't retract it though, redefining it will work just as well.

    and Your*, a correction to my previous post.

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  184. "I've already responded with sound logic to every single one of your points. I grow weary of repeating myself, especially now that you have fallen into simply responding to my posts with one-line nitpicks rather than actually responding to the content in the least."

    No, you presented a false dichotomy as the only reason my definition was "so broad as to be meaningless". That doesn't fly.

    Give me an actual, logically sound reason as to why unnecessary=excessive is so broad as to be meaningless. Then and only then will I move on to your later points.

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  185. Even if you somehow manage that, you'll have to wait until tomorrow now for me to address it.

    I'm off to bed.

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  186. That was some awesome trolling, Ryan.

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  187. "I've already told you that your logically fallacious false dichotomy "dealing" with it won't cut it."
    what what what what what what what what what what what the fuck

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  188. So are you two gonna make out or what

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  189. ...Yes I am aware that this was posted almost 100 comments ago, but still:

    "Well, sure, bad writers think that their adjective writing is awesome. This doesn't make it any less bad simply because it lacks some sort of universal standard. It is writing which is terrible. This is factual. Simply because some people are not aware of this fact does not make it any less terrible."

    Really? "Writing which is terrible" is an opinion. I can't understand how you could claim that it is factual at all.


    "It gets problematic when dealing with matters to which there is an art rather than a science, because people get it in their heads that since it's all opinion none of it matters. Nothing could be further from the truth."

    Oh yes, of course it matters. I'm all for criticism, and explaining why things are bad. However, proper criticism is not telling people that "adjective writing is objectively terrible."

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  190. I don't really wanna jump into this so late, but I read through this and saw something posted by Ryan Learn that I wanted to specifically address.

    "A necessary edit is one that, if not made, detrimentally affects the final product."

    Why does an edit have to detrimentally affect the final product? Why can't it just slightly affect it? Everything Jay did in the edit, in his opinion, made the comic better. He didn't just do it for the hell of it. Even if it wasn't a huge change; if, for example, Randall agreed that the exclamation points weren't needed. It isn't a detrimental change, but the writer liked it. Why not make the edit?

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  191. Wasn't there that author that got famous (the bad kind, the My Immortal kind) for having extremely adjective writing? I recall something about two influential authors at the time having a competition to see who could read the longest without laughing or some such.

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  192. @Rob

    No it's not.

    See? I can assert without justification too. It's easy.

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  193. Aw, cute, Ryan has discovered the ability to post as an Anonymous!

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  194. You're choosing not to address criticism, then?

    Typical. I have to admit, I don't exactly see why the regulars around here hold you in such high regard. You exhibit EVERY symptom of someone who has no fucking clue what they're talking about.

    Put up or shut up, ass-turd.

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  195. Hehe, "criticism." Because being a sock puppet is totally the same thing as criticism! Keep up the good work, sock puppet. I'm sure that if you keep repeating your idiot claims you'll achieve great success in the future. It's how you accomplish goals!

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