proofreaders available

Richard Stallman
Tue Mar 30 14:54:00 GMT 1999

To: gnu-prog
Subject: Using the proofreaders list

If you want help finding errors in documentation, or help improving
the quality of writing, or if you are not a native speaker of English
and want help producing good English documentation, you can use the
GNU proofreaders mailing list:

But be careful when you use the list, because there are over 200
people on it.  If you simply ask everyone on the list to read your
work, there will probably be tremendous duplication of effort by the
proofreaders, and you will probably get the same errors reported 100
times.  This must be avoided.

Also, the people on the list do not want to get a large amount of mail
from it.  So do not ever ask people on the list to send mail to the

Here are a few methods that seem reasonable to use:

* For something small, mail it to the list, and ask people
to pick a random number from 1 to 20, and read it if the number
comes out as 10.  This way, assuming 50% response, some 5 people
will read the piece.

* For a larger work, divide your work into around 20 equal-sized
parts, tell people where to get it, and ask each person to pick
randomly which part to read.

Be sure to specify the random choice procedure; otherwise people will
probably use a mental procedure that is not really random, such as
"pick a part near the middle", and you will not get even coverage.

You can either divide up the work physically, into 20 separate files,
or describe a virtual division, such as by sections (if your work
has approximately 20 sections).  If you do the latter, be sure
to be precise about it--for example, do you want the material
before the first section heading to count as a section, or not?

* For a job needing special skills, send an explanation of it, and ask
people to send you mail if they volunteer for the job.  When you get
enough volunteers, send another message to the list saying "I have
enough volunteers, no more please."

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