APF Chapter 6: Editorial Comments [Prev Page] [Index] [Next Page]

To Annotate or Not to Annotate

In the early years of the APF nearly every annotation that I received was quickly incorporated into the next version of the file. For the later versions, I became a bit more selective and started rejecting as well as accepting annotations.

For one thing, quite a few annotations didn't make it into this version of the APF because I simply couldn't place them. People send me annotations that are keyed to the page numbers in their books, which more often than not are not the same editions I use, or they don't mention page numbers at all. As a result, I sometimes have to spend a lot of time searching for a particular sentence or scene, and in many cases I just can't place it at all.

Another reason why annotations may be rejected is because I couldn't confirm the reference. Mind you, sometimes I'll include references that are simply so cool, or so authoritative-sounding, that even though I don't know anything about the subject myself, I feel they will enhance the file. However, I often receive annotations that are rather vague and non-specific, and which I do not wish to include without some further confirmation. This confirmation can for instance consist of someone else mailing me the same annotation, or of me delving into encyclopedias or dictionaries and checking things myself.

And a final batch of entries are of course rejected because I thought they were either too implausible or too 'obvious'. Now note that these are not fixed properties, and that as soon as I start getting the same annotation from multiple sources, I will nearly always accept it for the APF, regardless of what I may think about it myself.

However, as long I have received a particular annotation from one source only I'm going to have to make what is basically a very subjective judgement call -- that is what editors are for. If an annotation strikes me as implausible or just not very interesting, then it's out. If I think it's valid, or if I just like it, then it's in. If a trivial annotation is in the same category as many others already in the file, then it will usually be in (I am a stickler for consistency), unless I'm bored, in which case I simply want to get on with the fun stuff, and I leave it out. Sic Biscuitas Desintegrat, as they say.

The important point I want to get across here is that none of these annotations are rejected permanently, and that everything is filed away for future reference. They may very well be used in later versions of the APF.

So what do I base my judgement calls on? The answer is of course that I don't really consciously know, and that it usually just depends on my mood anyway. One important rule of thumb that I try to follow as much as possible is the following:

I do not like explaining English puns or words. As soon as another language is involved ("with milk?") -- fine. As soon as some weird old British saying is referenced ("good fences") -- cool. As soon as it is obvious that many readers are simply not getting something that I consider obvious ("echognomics") -- no problem. But as a basic heuristic I am assuming that everybody who is able to read Terry Pratchett's books in the original language has enough command of the English language to understand basic puns, and enough sense to use a dictionary if they encounter an unfamiliar word. I don't want to have to explain why Equal Rites is a funny title.

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