The Conversation Newbie

On the recommendation of my colleague Matt Nisbet, I submitted a piece related to Reading the Comments to The Conversation, an online publisher aiming for the sweet spot of “academic rigor, journalist flair.” The result is the short essay “The Social Graph Won’t Save Us from What’s Wrong with Online Reviews.”

As someone who typically chafes at most publishing processes (submitting Word documents via crappy Web forms), I found this to be delightful! The process is very web friendly: I got to write in markdown (how I write everything) and links are welcome, as are images. The results are available under the Creative Commons Attribution/No derivatives license and they encourage syndication. My editor (Maggie Villiger) was helpful and responsive.

I highly recommend it, and I share these lessons I learned as a newbie:

  • I recommend you have a markdown editor you are comfortable with. The online editor is okay, but switching between the source and preview tabs is a little awkward.
  • They seem to prefer inline to reference links; I find that makes the prose busy for editing purposes, but it’s easy enough to convert between the two with pandoc.
  • Have some creative commons images in mind for the piece; I make much use of Wikimedia Commons and flickr.
  • Authors have final control over publishing, it won’t post until you press “Approve” upon request by your editor. That said, it was a little confusing in that I approved working versions that I wanted to save (and get feedback on) but not really approve for publishing.

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