November 16, 2002

Proofreading.. I saw it First!

For several months now I've been spending some time doing proofreading pages for Distributed Proofreading, a website associated with Project Gutenberg. If you don't know what that is, it's a project that's been going on for about 30 years, masterminded by one very hard-working fellow, with a goal of getting all public-domain books onto the Internet where they can be downloaded and read for free. I think it's a worthy project, so when I found the Distributed Proofreaders site, it seemed like a good place to spend some spare time.

On this particular site, somebody else scans in the books, and people who do the proofreading check the image of each page against what the computer thinks the text is, in plain text, and make any corrections, since sometimes the computer doesn't get it quite right. We don't make any changes to original spelling or grammar or anything like that. Then, when it's been proofread a couple of times, another volunteer formats it into the standard Project Gutenberg template and sends it on its way to be posted in their online library.

It was all very cool. Here's the problem. Until a few weeks ago, this website was hosted on some guy's DSL, and it was usually very slow. And the DNS had a habit of going missing for hours at a time, and I couldn't reach it at all. Then they moved it to a machine at The Wayback Project (which is also a very cool project, if you aren't familiar with it) so now they have mega-bandwidth to work with. OK, that's great. But then they had the bright idea of posting about this stuff to Slashdot and Kuro5hin, where of course all these thousands of people read about it and decided to join in. So now there are about 10 times as many people working on it, doing about 10 times as many pages everyday, which is sweet, but it makes it hard on us who were doing it before because the site got a little slower and there's less stuff to pick from.

Oh well. This is a totally selfish rant, of course. It's great for Project Gutenberg (if those Slashdot community kiddies could actually do a good job of proofreading, that is). It's just not so great for me. PFFT!

Published: November 16, 2002
Editor: stacy

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