Saturday, February 6, 2010

Ignorance can, indeed, be bliss.

The question is: Does an editor need to be well versed in a subject in order to successfully edit material related to that subject?

Some editors say yes, others no—for reasons that should be fairly obvious. And depending on context, our answer might change.

I believe how an editor views this depends in large part on our editorial mentors and how they defined the role of an editor. And, of course, that early influence is then tempered by our experience until we arrive at our approach to our role and to how we answer the above question.

Regarding my online article editing work, there is a seemingly limitless number of topics that end up in our editing queues, ten at a time. We can select any of them, and how we choose is, again, directly related to the question.

The other day, the following title appeared on my list: "Oracle SQL Tuning Tips." I know nothing about SQL.

Once we select an article, we own it and must edit it. There is no way to preview content. But given the title, I figured this had to be an extremely technical and esoteric article.

So I put on my "ignorant" hat and clicked on the title, taking comfort in knowing that I would not be held responsible for fact-checking or the accuracy of the content—just spelling, grammar, and structure per our editorial guidelines. Here's an excerpt:

If you're writing multiple table joins, make sure you consider the benefits for each EXISTS, IN, and table joins. IN is usually the slowest. Since the majority of filter criteria are in the parent-query, EXISTS will be the most efficient:

SELECT columns FROM tables WHERE EXISTS (sub-query);

After making several simple edits, I gave it an excellent rating, approved it, and submitted it for publication.