Daily Archives: August 25, 2018

Blaugust and Editorial Policy

The problem with defending the purity of the English language is that English is about as pure as a cribhouse whore. We don’t just borrow words; on occasion, English has pursued other languages down alleyways to beat them unconscious and rifle their pockets for new vocabulary.

James Nicoll

Another Blaugust feature, but now I have completely parted ways with the suggested topics and am wandering aimlessly through strange locations.

Blaugust Reborn

For some reason I want to write about editorial policy.  But not in any particularly helpful way I am sure, which probably keeps this post in line with the editorial policy here at TAGN.

At one point the LEGO Group had issued a set of guidelines for anybody setting up a fan site on the web.  This was ages ago, in the late 90s if I recall right, when companies were still suspicious of the web and worried what letting a bunch of randos talk about their product might do to their ability to protect their trademarks and such.

The guidelines looked to be a variation on what was likely their internal brand guide, a sort of document that I have seen at many companies, that makes sure that the company name, logo, and products are all used in a consistent and appropriate manner.

So it was full of things like the fact that the name LEGO should always be in all caps and should have the registered trademark symbol after it in all cases and that the company logo should always use a certain set of colors and always be at the correct aspect ratio, never cropped or stretched, and that you should never refer to LEGO brand construction blocks as “LEGOs” and so forth.  It had a bit of a thuggish air about it, the implication that if you setup a LEGO fan site and did not comply with all of this that they might come shut you down.  And hell, Nintendo has done worse from time to time in the name of protecting their trademarks and such.

Wired wrote an article about the whole thing and, on reading it I asked an acquaintance who worked there why they wrote out the company name as “Lego” when the company had, if not politely, at least made itself clear that they preferred “LEGO,” which was, if not an acronym, the conjunction of two words mashed together.  He told me, in not so many words, “Lego doesn’t write out editorial guidelines, so we’ll call them whatever we feel like.”

I don’t know why this little tales has stuck with me over the years.  That print media has editorial guidelines about usage is hardly news to me.  I had professors in college rant about correct usage.  I’ve witnessed holy wars between adherents of The Chicago Manual of Style and the AP Stylebook.

And “holy war” is the apt term, because either of those books, or any other pretender, is primarily a matter of belief as opposed to any objective fact.  The English language is chaotic and cannot be tamed.  But that chaos makes it a hell of a lot of fun at times.

So while this blog has a staff of exactly one person, that person fills all the roles.  I am writer, editor, publisher, and the person who empties the waste bin at night.  And as such I have, over the years, developed what I think of as my own set of editorial guidelines to which I attempt to adhere.

In the early days I wrote just to write and embraced the chaos.  But the accountant in me will ever show up and I began to organize a bit, working with categories and tags, because what is the use of writing something if you cannot find it again.

I also started in on what became recurring features, regular milestones on this journey through and around my video gaming life, the first of which was the month in review post.  That started as a whim but quickly evolved into a pillar of the site, at least for me.

My writing, the way I approach posts, evolved as well.  In the early days I wrote a lot of shorter posts.  In 2007 I wrote 490 posts that averaged 482 words each.  Last year I wrote 350 posts which had 932 words each on average.

I also started adopting some standards for how I refer to games.  At one point I decided that I needed to put game titles in italics.  Somewhere one of my English teachers probably sleeps a little more soundly.

I also decided to make sure that I wrote out the name of the game which I was writing about in full near the start of each post.  I have read many a post where the game in question is mentioned either as an unclear acronym or not mentioned at all, leaving me to wonder what the writer is going on about.  Sometimes I can guess from context, but not always, so I wanted to ensure that anybody who showed up here would not find themselves likewise vexed.

So I write out the full name, in italics, then use a short form after that, so World of Warcraft becomes WoW and EVE Online becomes EVE.

There are also bits of usage that are just because I like it that way.  I always capitalize EVE in EVE Online, mostly because that is the way CCP styles it.  On the other had Trion Worlds can spell out Rift in all caps from now until the end of time and I’ll never follow suit.  It just ain’t gonna happen.

And I always write out acronyms in all caps.  It irks me when the BBC writes out Nasa rather than NASA, like it was a word.

And none of it has to make any logical sense, as though much in the English language ever does.  It just has to please me.  And, likewise, what you do on your blog just has to please you, even if you don’t write out Nasa in all caps.