I just had an idea and I think it might be rather cool…

So, I was reading the morning’s blogs/news/etc. and I came across an article in which the author had clearly just mistyped the sentence “but the company has said” instead saying “but then company has said”. This made me think, in these days of the social web editors and the distribution chain are spending less time proof reading, in addition there are a greater number of people who are less extensively educated being involved (I think we can all agree that education is less strict at the bottom echelons). Personally I don’t think my standard of English is bad but at the same time I know I regularly make mistakes while typing and that there are doubtless many errors that I don’t pick up on (my family occasionally corrects me).

So, what about a service that can track sites and allow the readers to make corrections “wiki-style” but without actually needing to change the content management software that runs the website? How about a browser plug-in which allows a reader to at least highlight an area and make a comment that will allow a correction to take place? The server could then note these corrections and depending on the mechanisms available this information could be made available to the original author. Obviously an author doesn’t want any ol’ folk changing their content, but perhaps authors for whom their first language is not the language of their posting could be offered assistance in this way? The system would not over-write or even require the changes to be immediately visible but there could at least be a mechanism by which simple corrections could be noted.

So, the plug-in would, at the presence of a highlight and right click, present the reader with a pop-up from which the user could make a correction and then could annotate/justify that correction. The change would then go to the services servers to be logged along with the details of the page/site and some useful information to track that content. If the site was based on a standard CMS tool, such as WordPress, and if comments are allowed then the system could leave a comment notifying the owner of the blog that some correction has been offered. Sites could register with the service so that they either can block the function or could engage more deeply with it.

The system would be simple, light weight and low cost to develop. The service could get revenue from professional websites which wanted the service to help with their editing by charging ‘per impression for pages corrected’ or by simple tiered sponsorship of the service.

Let me know if you would like to work on this concept with me, it seems worthwhile to give it a try and because I am not much of a programmer I could at least cover the hosting for the effort.

Edit: My brother just messaged me one correction to this article already, see it is needed!

Further concepts thought of after the fact:

  • The “editors” (members of the community contributing corrections) could receive reputation points if their edits are used
  • Malicious “editors” could be scored down in reputation to reduce their impact/influence
  • Pedantism could be expressed away from the pages to which they are commenting rather than having the pedants comment on the article itself
  • Firefox is the only major player for browser plug-ins, so site-based modules for Joomla, Drupal, WordPress and other CMS tools should be added

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