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Part of what will make our site grow is having good, clean, professional looking content, the kind of content that a project management professional expects to see in his or her daily work. Our site's goal is to become a professional resource of knowledge, sort of like an encyclopedia.

It's worth noting that all users on our site with at least 1,000 reputation have full editing permissions and can edit any question and answer in the system. We have 45 users with this ability.

To be true to this goal and to make the site attractive to people looking for expert answers, what kinds of things can we do to help make sure the content looks professional and attractive? Would it help to discuss some editing guidelines? We should work to increase our Active List of Editors. How can we encourage more editing in general?

  • Do you feel like the community isn't doing a sufficient amount of editing? I'm not sure I'm seeing an actual problem, although there are certainly a few edge cases. – Todd A. Jacobs Feb 13 '14 at 15:10
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Things that would facilitate more editing:

Editing Standards/guidelines

If we collectively define quality, then I'm more likely to edit towards quality. Editing conventions are, in my opinion, the most important thing we can do to encourage editing. (Probably the second most important thing is to be civil to those who fall short of the editing conventions.) Some possible suggestions:

  • Titles should be questions, complete with capitalization and punctuation.
  • Link. Link some more. Then check the question again to see if there are any opportunities to link further. Are there any terms that someone coming to the question might not immediately understand? Links provide context, facilitate deeper research, help people to recognize connections which are really vital. Links are particularly important for questions that are marginal. PM:SE should leverage the rest of the internet to support our Q&A.
    • (Our editing standards could probably include some conventions on how we supply links and when we choose to supply links; if I recall, wikimedia has a convention we might use as a starter).
    • Link text should be descriptive. In most cases the reader should be able to predict what they'll see when they follow the link.
    • When I see a question that includes a bunch of jargon that is not supported by links, I skip past it. When I see the same question with links, I often click on the links and learn something. Perhaps not enough to answer the question, but enough that PM:SE has taught me something. It is much easier for random readers to recognize and wikify jargon than it is for OP to recognize jargon.
    • If you reference a product name, it is very useful to link to the product.
  • Several users make very effective use of headers, bullets and tl:dr summaries. I'd like to follow their example, but it would be easier if we had conventions to promote consistency. (e.g. if the message is longer than 3 paragraphs, include a tl:dr)

Permission/invitation to edit

If the OP indicates in the post that they would like help in making the question more professional, then I'm more likely to assist. A comment stating that the question would be improved by editing makes it much easier to edit. This is also true for answers. If you feel that your answer is factually correct, but you don't have the time/familiarity with markup language to improve the appearance, drop a comment and I'm sure I'm not the only one who will take a look.

As @jmort253 points out, SE is built on the assumption that those who have reputation will actively curate the site. But if that assumption were working as well as we hope, he wouldn't have needed to ask the question. So we need to help motivate one another. It is easy enough to edit for hygiene (removing actively confusing, erroneous or ugly content). But there are questions where my mouse hovers over the edit button and I can't quite decide to take the plunge. If OP or another PM:SE participant were to label the question as a candidate for editing, it might just convince me to take the chance.

Extrinsic motivation

Much as we're ashamed to admit, it, we do respond to badges. To reputation. To the acclaim of our peers and the lamentations of their... no, never mind, I think that's something else.

Editing Help

Here is the Editing/Markdown Help, which explains all of the markdown syntax used to help format posts. This tool will help editors more quickly resolve issues in a particular post.

  • By wikify, do you mean creating links that are text like this? If so, I think just making sure the link text is descriptive is a good start. Titles are important. I oftentimes just edit them and come back to edit other stuff later if I'm pressed for time. – jmort253 Feb 7 '14 at 19:30
  • Editing is a core component in a Stack Exchange site. The system is built to put trust into those at the higher reputation levels and empower them to make judgement calls where action is needed. As a result, we should look at every post as having an implicit "please help improve this post" comment beneath it..... and yeh, I get the badges thing, that's not why we're here. But the number of people who have earned certain badges on a site does tell us a lot about that site's overall health. – jmort253 Feb 8 '14 at 21:36
  • I've tried to update the answer to address these comments; I hope they're now obsolete, but I'm going to leave that decision in your hands. – Mark C. Wallace Feb 8 '14 at 22:17
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    Thanks for addressing. We still need to get folks into the line of thinking that every post automatically has a "please edit me" comment below it. Editing is such a core component of our model. – jmort253 Feb 11 '14 at 6:50

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