Wednesday 30th April 2003

I’d just like to remind people to be careful with their annotations. Recently there have been more errors appearing, more lengthy posts, and more annotations that should be in the Background Info section.

First, there have been an increasingly large amount of errors and duplicate posts — the Preview functionality is there so you can proof-read your annotation and check any links before finally posting it. If you right-click (or Control/Command click) a link you can open it in a new window, which won’t disrupt your annotation. Every mistake requires some work from me to correct it which I’d obviously prefer to keep to a minimum! Pause and think before posting.

Second, please keep annotations brief. The guidelines still recommend 2-3 paragraphs and this should be the normal maximum. While the line is always blurry I’d prefer to keep annotations informative rather than discussive. It’s a shame if I have to delete something you’ve spent a lot of time over just because it’s too long.

Third, do check whether your diary annotation would be more useful to everyone in the Background Info section.

I’d like to pre-empt the inevitable discussion this will cause about the format of annotations, and whether it should be changed (something we’ve discussed at great length before). There is no chance of me changing the current format right now. Later in the year I may be able to change things to allow different varieties of annotations. I could, however, easily start a discussion group (email and/or web-based) now for more lengthy and general chat about the diary if people would find it useful. Let me know!

That said, thanks to everyone who’s contributed useful and fascinating information over the past few months; it’s greatly appreciated by many people.

29 Comments

Emilio   Link to this

As best I can tell, Phil's concept is that the annos in both the BG and diary sections would function more or less as footnotes to the text: BG for specific topics, entry pages for details and short responses relating to a particular day (or occasional broader topics that don't yet have a BG page). All the annos would be factually based, "informative rather than discussive" as he puts it.
This is a new idea, since up to now the entry annos have been more or less an open discussion forum, for lack of anyplace else to post broader-based speculations or analyses. If the annos are to work as footnotes, though, more wide-ranging discussion would have to get a new home. Perhaps such a forum could also take the place of the essays section, which has so far been stillborn for lack of content.
If we were to set up a discussion forum, I would lean toward it being Web-based rather than email-based, since I'd prefer not being tied to my home email account. Perhaps a general forum to begin with, and see from there whether it would be useful to subdivide into different topics?

vincent   Link to this

double posting? is it possible when the post button is used it reverts to the start condition i.e. just "preview then post button" i.e. loops back earlier?
just a thought?
Discussion? Sam does bring up lots of issues, that evoke differing views,
some be Royalist, Cavalier or even pure Rebel or a Digger or some where betwix.

Phil   Link to this

I'm not sure what you mean vincent... When you click Post the page changes back to the full diary entry page.

Emilio... the annotations have *always* been for footnotes, and not dicussion; hence the name annotations, rather than comments, forum, discussion, etc. Obviously some discussion is necessary to work out confusions and ambiguities.

I'm assuming in all this that the vast majority of readers, ie, those that never post annotations, would prefer "just the facts" rather than reading long discursive posts.

fimm   Link to this

"I

Phil   Link to this

Well I'd prefer to go with what everyone wants, but it's almost impossible to tell. Those who post annotations and comments are more likely to prefer spending more time reading annotations.

Jenny Doughty   Link to this

The difficulty with having a discussion forum going (though it would be a fun thing to have and might cut the annotations back to what Phil wants) is that it might need to be moderated and we might find that discussions go so far off topic that it becomes a chatroom. On the whole, I think we have the balance right at the moment - it's not so rigid that minor excursions won't do, but not so loose that it loses the connection with the subject.

Phil, I think you mentioned at some point that you would go along and 'clean up' annotations more than a month or so old, by deleting posts that seem irrelevant, and that seems a pretty good compromise if you have time to do it.

Warren Keith Wright   Link to this

A device to cut down dead-end annotations:
If possessors of the complete L&M could check each day's posted entry against their authoritative edition, and sound an alert about any substantive misreading in the old edition, it would spare us much fruitless speculation.

This would apply not to mere variants in period spelling or punctuation, but to cases of obvious mistranscription.

I have only Latham's 1985 "Shorter Pepys," which abbreviates some of the entries selected. But even that source would have apprised us all, 30 April 1660, about "the three holes which my Lord hath cut over the Chrystall of his watch," not "the three notes," which caused justifiable yet avoidable confusion.

Esme   Link to this

I think the discursive posts and the frankly chatty posts are not just part of the charm of this site, but an important part of the value of the site to the world. Most of us could lay our hands on an academic tome or two if that was the approach to "our Sam" that we wanted -- but then we would presumably never think of him as "our Sam".

The interest of the one-day-per-day diary is the chance to really savour it. All sorts of posts, even those where people seem at first to be obviously mistaken, help to trigger deeper examination of the text and more wide-ranging contemplation of what it must have been like to live through the era.

I am a pedantic academic. I think I would stop reading if the annotations turned into pedantic footnotes only. I enjoy sharing reading the Diary with people with different world views. I have already noted and regretted a reduction in the "Gosh, I did that today too" type of posts. My ideal website would make those posters welcome, and would put some of the "General Monck this day..." into the background pages, ready for when the need is felt. To sum up, let's treat it as a text to relate to, not just one to learn from.

Hhomeboy   Link to this

top ten most wanted list...

Our pal Phil is hoping to implement a pro version of "movable type" a few months hence...this should give him more flexibility...I need a re-edit function because I post rt. after I write: even though I use the 'preview' window, I miss several typos on a routine basis because: a.) the ergonomically ill-conceived narrow box for entering text constricts cognizance and necessitates awkward and tiresome scrolling up and down between the preview text above and the entry box below;

b.) perfect editing requires a paper print-out and/or a second reader...hence the practicality of conscientious posters having access to a re-edit function (and therefore the necessity of posters having to register).

1. annotations...'Esme' has got it right...also (as per earlier discussions re: housekeeping) Keith Wright, David Quidnunc, Pauline, Vincent et al.

2. L&M footnotes...My own view is that the moderator or his editorial board helpers/volunteers (see suggestion below) should be reading ahead by several days AND inserting the L&M textual variations--either via footnotes/hyperlinks or simply by amending the badly bowdlerized Wheatley text and its flawed, typo-strewn Gutenberg offspring...

3. As some recent posters have pleaded, Phil's goal ought to be to intregrate the L&M footnotes as adjunct/companion text entries to the quotidian diary entries--ditto on background type L&M annotations; I'm sure the L&M publishers would gladly give permission to do so.

4. I think most of the painfully obvious or clueless "what does this really mean" and the 'duh-uh' or just plain misunderstood queries should be eliminated quickly as footnotes--preferably within hours or a day or two of the annotated diary entry's first appearance...doing it this way also will serve to discourage repetition of same and prevent the moderator from becoming overwhelmed (as is presently the case) by having established a pattern of procrastinating over cleaning thru the annotations within 24 hours of the initial posting binge.

5. As Phil has been told ad nauseam, splitting the daily annotations into two streams via David Quidnunc's ingenious Puritans vs. Cavaliers categories or bifurcated path will satisfy all tastes--the purists get the no-frills expository and quasi-academic and linguistic or arcana footnotes; the cavaliers stream will allow freer-ranging but nonetheless on-topic/focussed exchanges and expansive discourse(s), which are the sole reason I use this site (ie. I own an L&M set and some 30 Pepys-related reference volumes, plus another 100 or so biographical and period related history books).

6. Phil needs an editorial committee to help him decide some issues/formats and to feed and organize materials for the burgeoning but poorly categorized and organized background section and index....eg. a comprehensive historical info. links section needs to be set up and updated regularly according to content references.

7. If Phil were willing to delegate and defer to the wishes of an editorial board, many useful accoutrements could be undertaken which would vastly enrich this sparsely featured site, thereby enhancing its drawing power...

eg. a moderated discussion section (no e-mail or yahoo type groups, merci bien) vs. a separate but affiliated and linked discussion forum run with the input of an editorial group (ie. NOT by Phil) with dedicated topics such as: Q 'n A's with experts; Pepys' and friends' bio info.; linguistic interpretative remarks/debates; historiography issues; passages and quotes found by readers in reference works; restoration political events; household routines; health and medical facts and interpretations; Royal courtiers; naval history; art and architecture; news and gossip; currency and economics; food, recipes and drinkie poos, etc., etc.

8. more spice please: whether one uses asterisked hyperlinked annotations, I think all the naughty bits--from the bawdy asides to the bathroom humour and robust language--ought to be posted as companion enhancements to the daily entries.

Also, readers should be encouraged to post as much additional RELEVANT bawd as can be found--these bits could be archived and also colour-highlighted when posted in the daily annotations OR displayed in a distinct manner such as a different font.

9. More visual material should be added to display pages once a more robust platform is implemented--eg. jpegs of period photos or portraits, caricatures, archival and diary manuscript pages, maps, etc.

10. I strongly recommend that the inclusion of streaming audio of diary passages would be a superb way of getting the language and inferences right, as well as an amusing and instructive mode of imparting the verve and dialect of Pepys and his era. It would also serve to attract many more new readers and help hold onto the ones who already follow the diary's progress online.

Todd Bernhardt   Link to this

re: Top Ten List

Hails of derisive laughter, Hhomeboy! You're obviously a fan of David Letterman and his Top-Ten lists ... excellent satire, my friend, really. For a while there, you had me believing you! But, as I read down the list, the absurdity of each suggestion built its brethren until the comedy of it all finally broke through, and I dissolved in tears of laughter.

Phil, if I were into that Popery stuff, I'd canonize ya. The site's fine ... we just need people to take responsibility for themselves and their writings, and all will be well.

Right, let's get some Sheilas.

Hhomeboy   Link to this

ad hominem: I think Todd's...

Not interested in joining an editorial board, unless it's about beer 'n "Sheilas"...glurp!

Laura K   Link to this

all types of annotations

I want to thank Esme for her beautifully articulated post re the value of a variety of voices in the annotations. I wholeheartedly agree.

I do, however, wish that people would check their typing a bit more carefully, but I always wish that.

Thanks again to all you terrific annotators.

vincent   Link to this

a long posting
this be a ditty, neither witty or shitty or even pretty,
to Phil who has the thrill ,to be king or to be tsar,
'tis his world so far, to erase or deletes,
his annotators feats, to who(m) be so cavalier
be they who come to his site, thinking they have this rite
to write the wrong thing, to leave a putrid word string
With his mouse swipe, he can remove this tripe

His googlers he has a plenty,
A committee he has no need,
to this mondo he has drawn,
a group so widely spread,
from the macademia to the unread,
there be those be schooled to be lead;
there be those schooled for canon fodder;
tho not post processed horse fodder;
there be those that read then gowned;
those that not read should be drowned;

The Drill for our Phill is to Edict
then to the unseemly evict.
Use his divine right of blogger
to remove the said ******;
to clean House with his mouse
He needs no first minister to issue
a warrant or commission to seek
permission to enjoy the sweat of his labo(u)r

From beneath the scupper:
I be no poet ( a mis-quote from a famous U.S. Senator)

Danski   Link to this

Short Answer? We need a separate, if easily accessible forum.

Long Answer: As I understand it, the original concept of this site was to present The Diary in Blog format as a means of bringing a primary historical source to life in a modern context, and to let it, and therefore Pepys, speak for itself as if it were written "today" (http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/uk/2621581.stm ) That, for me, was the main attraction, and the charm of the whole idea.

Whilst this may seem a little dry to other, more "Pepys-wise" users, it provides an opportunity to those for whom Sam is still a new acquaintance to get to know him and his world in his own words, at their own speed and in their own time. The ability for those interested to seek out and add SUPPORTING information helps aid the discovery process, but I feel this should be in the general form of

Hhomeboy   Link to this

'clicks' cause out-migration...sometimes permanently:

'Sticky sites' manage to retain readers with varied content and some apropos visual elements...the cavaliers vs. puritans dual annotations streams satisfies the minimalists AND the maximalists...

Once the novelty of a site wears off, unique visits tail off...as has been the case here.

The top ten list above (from someone who knows a thing or two about generating web site hits) was generated to attract younger viewers and history buffs...by optimising entertaining features.

This site is too minimalist, but can incorporate additional viewer-friendly components while displaying the diary entries in a manner without undue distractions; I suspect the alleged 'purist' contingent to be a largely fictional audience of aging neo-Luddites

maureen   Link to this

As Danski has neatly underlined, we have had this discussion only two months ago and, at that stage, came as close as we will ever get to a consensus. Why are we having it again?

We are all guests on Phil Gyford's blog: a degree of courtesy to our host need not impede a lively discussion of, first, the facts and, second, the various interpretations of them.

How old I am is not a relevant question. That I was trained to convey much in very few words is something of which I am proud.

Todd Bernhardt   Link to this

Bravo, Danski and Maureen! Hhumbug, Homeboy!

Danski is right on the money about the original (and, to me, attractive) concept of this site, and Maureen is standing on the same coin when she champions the cause of brevity (and points out that this dead horse is already well-beat).

Hhomeboy, why the hhell are you worried about "out migration"? This isn't an e-commerce site. Site stickiness has nothing to do with "entertaining features" (puhleeze ... I bet you like Flash intros, too) or the kinds of things that you spelled out in your list above. Users return because they care about the content, and because there's new content to which they can return. It's as simple as that (and that comes from "someone who knows a thing or two, blahblahblah").

This site serves up the goods, every day, and that's why we've built up a nice community of people who care about it and contribute to it. Perhaps if you considered yourself part of that community, instead of spewing out preachy statements that show a disregard for basic proofing, research and attribution (where, for example, you do you get the statistics to back up your claim above that unique user visits have declined?), and instead of insulting Phil and us at every opportunity (try calling me an "aging neo-Luddite" to my face, pal ... I suspect you wouldn't), then you'd be a happier with this little Gift of History, one so suited to the benefits provided by hypertext that I for one view it as the best opportunity provided to me for a long time to learn about this subject while also leaving me with enough time to meet the various challenges and responsibilities of the day.

Lest anyone has forgotten it, the reason Phil moved annotator's names to the tops of their posts was to provide the opportunity for people to skip the posts of blowhards like you. I've always viewed your posts as simple comic relief, containing the occasional nugget of useful info (you can obviously do it when you try), but now I view your approach to this site as downright detrimental to a community that I've come to care about. I don't know about anyone else, but my gloves are now officially off.

My opinion is this: Phil's doing a great job. We all need to be responsible for our own posts, and follow basic, common-sense guidelines when we post -- be concise (my apologies for this long post) and try to post something that contributes, rather than distracts, from the events of each day. I've got other strong opinions about this, which you can find at http://www.pepysdiary.com/about/archive/2003/03... if you're intested.

Again, I apologize for the length of this post.

Emilio   Link to this

Hear hear. I find my tolerance for longer annos w/ the entries has shrunk over the last few days, and in any case we should respect the vision and hard work that Phil has put in to creating such a well-run site.

At this point, a forum to separate out lengthy debate seems like the solution that will best please everyone.

Laura K   Link to this

cheers and jeers

Thank you Todd, Emilio, Danski and Maureen, for saying what needed to be said.

Aging neo-Luddites? (How many Luddites use the internet, I wonder?) Younger viewers? Has anyone been posting his or her age along with their email address?

If this site is too minimalist, or too anything, for someone's tastes, that someone is free to create his own Pepys website. Invite the world - or only a select few, it matters not - and leave the rest of us to our own enjoyment, education and entertainment.

But please, stop berating us. And Phil, please, stop allowing this. You are an excellent host, and you are doing an incredible job. But by continuing to suffer this fool, you risk the ruin of this grand project.

Phil   Link to this

Thanks for the comments everyone, and for giving me the ability to laugh at Hhomeboy, rather than attempt to respond to his repetitious lists. I'm glad people seem to be enjoying the site otherwise.

Now, to get back to the original point. I only really wanted to know if anyone wanted a discussion group in addition to the current annotations (which should be brief). That's it. Thanks.

Todd Bernhardt   Link to this

Should we have a discussion group?

Sure, why not? If it's not too much work for you, and it helps takes some of the pressure off of the annotation section (both in terms of posting length and of emotions), then go for it.

Will it be valuable? I don't know. If if follows the BBS-thread paradigm, with lots of areas that I have to weave my way through, I probably won't visit it much. One of the reasons that I like the annotations is because their format is similar to the digest discussion-group paradigm that I find more usable -- i.e., annotations and replies are more or less chronological and immediate, and you can easily read them in sequence. I've also found that the digest format usually is accompanied by a higher degree of accountability and consensus than the BBS.

My 2d worth.

Hhomeboy   Link to this

ganging up is such fun....

If you look at Susanna or Vk's or others' recent links posts, then even you NL's must realize that a proper links storage/reference area organized by category would be useful...

The link to Archbishop Sharp's Letterbox and the manuscript j-pegs with text wraps demonstrate the compelling mix of jpegs & copy...

As for Phil laughing at me, well, Phil is just temperamentally unsuited to collaborating on an equals footing--this is true of most blog/webbers I know--they are mavericks masquerading as gregarious beings...

If Phil and others in the UK had been awake, then a couple of people might have attended Ollard's talk and the Pepys weekend at Magdalene in March...cooperation and coordination would greatly enhance this site...

But hey, if it makes you Pecksniffians feel better to deride, well be my guest as I'm sure you feel bigger n' better...I think Vincent's doggerel nicely captured Phil's alleged "personality".

Todd is well, Todd; laura K thank god has, after a couple of warnings, ceased and desisted from sending me harassing e-mails (BTW, 55 plus demos make up anywhere from 24-43% of online users, depending on time of day and region/country); what Emilio's posts (after a woodshedding from Phil) now lack in length, Emilio more than makes up for in frequency...the tale of the tape re: E would show he was, in terms of total inches, the longest winded of us all...

BTW, where is Goodsir David Q. these days...much missed.

Finally, I alwayss get a charge out of donkeys braying--whenever they do chez 'our Sam' (my phrase), I get a sporadic burst of well-mannered annotators sending me commiserating E-notes.

Hhomeboy   Link to this


?3l
I've never said Phil is doing a bad job...just that with an editorial board of active contributors, the site could live up to its potential.

The fact that Phil & co. get so defensive and then strike back with brickbats, etc. is quite revealing.

john simmons   Link to this

Would like some sort of dicussion group or site where you could ask something as simple as, what happened to David Q. and Pauline?

Danski   Link to this

Incidentally, this NL is 33 and works in a datacentre - go figure...

WKW   Link to this

In keeping with a custom more widespread in the century following Pepys's, Pauline is undertaking a version of the Grand Tour and will return in June, pleased to have been missed.

Philip Warman   Link to this

I'm sorry to see a little ill-will on the site. I enjoy reading Pepys in this way and think Phil has done a great public service in putting it together so well. I am in favor of not harassing him with requests and minutia to the point he says, "To blazes with it." In short, I am in favor of following his lead with a well-deserved "thank you." He should have fun with this, not get flamed.

Nix   Link to this

To quote a current King --

"Can't we all just get along?"

I've been enjoying this site immensely, and I think it had been working quite well. Kudos to Phil -- it's his achievement. And to the annotatorys (ALL of them). Keep it simple, keep it informal, and please keep cool.

Barbara   Link to this

As one of the "vast majority of readers" this site is one of the highlights of my day. I was fortunate enough to be given the L&M edition as it was published, together with volumes of letters etc, and I read them through every couple of years. However, I go too fast, and skip over some entries, and rarely bother to look up many of the characters mentioned. This site makes me slow down and think. I treasure the thought that the daily unfurling of Sam's life will go on for YEARS. The occasional light-hearted comment among the solid stuff is very welcome.

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