Shall I edit this for you?

By Steve Outing

In my current role as publisher of a network of citizen-media-based websites (well, only one is live today, but more are coming soon), I really have to curb my editing tendencies. You see, I spent part of my career working as a newspaper copy editor. But in my new job, I have to bite my tongue a lot when content comes in from our users that’s less than perfect in the language and spelling departments.

Here’s an example of a little story that got posted to today, from a kid who shared a near-death experience when riding with some buddies. It’s riddled with errors. So, do I fix them? Or just let it go in the condition the kid submitted it?

I choose the latter. is based on the premise that people can tell their own stories, and I don’t want to get in the position of being their editor. (Of course, if something is inappropriate or otherwise violates our terms of service, I’ll unpublish the submission.)

There’s debate in the citizen-media world about editing vs. not editing, with good arguments on both sides. Something I’m thinking about is offering light copy editing as an option. That is, when a user submits an article, there might be a checkbox that says: “Check this box if you’d like our editors to fix spelling and grammatical errors.” The submission could go into a queue and be looked over before it’s published.

I suspect that some people with poor writing skills might appreciate this service. What do you think of this idea?

Author: Steve Outing Steve Outing is a Boulder, Colorado-based media futurist, digital-news innovator, consultant, journalist, and educator. ... Need assistance with media-company future strategy? Get in touch with Steve!