July 13, 2003

Distributed Proofreaders

The other thing that's been sucking up my time for the last few days (besides writing a whole bunch of bloggy backlog...) is Distributed Proofreaders.

DP is an interface for spreading out the work of proofreading the scanned and OCR'd text of out-of-copyright books that are on their way into the archives at Project Gutenberg.

They present you with the original scanned image, and the OCR text. You compare the two making changes to the plain text so that it matches the image.

I keep at least a couple of books in my Palm at all times. Don't want to get caught without something to read! Currently I have Looking Backward by Edward Bellamy, Portrait of a Lady by Henry James, and Trader by Charles de Lint (this last is a current release I got free in a Palm promotion). I've got my eye on Treasure Island.

DP provides a fun way to give something back to the cause. They ask for a page a day, but whatever you can do helps. I've found for the pages I've seen (mostly novels) it doesn't take more than 5 or 10 minutes to do a page, and it's very satisfying to know that because of your 5 minutes no one will ever have to puzzle over "whielc" when the word was clearly "which".

Getting started is pretty easy, though I had to poke around a bit to answer a few of my initial questions. There are proofing guidelines to follow so that everyone marks the confusing stuff in close to the same way. But you don't have to stress about it too much because every page gets two rounds of proofing with the second round reserved for experienced proofers so any newbie mistakes will likely be caught in the second round. And not only will they be caught, but the second round proofers will usually send you a note pointing out where they changed what you did so you can learn for next time.

If you decide to give it a try and need some pointers, drop me an email and I'll try to help.

Posted by jeffy at July 13, 2003 12:49 PM
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