Should Simonseeks be insisting on a quality threshold, or should the site be made more open so that anyone can publish their guides?
One of the challenging aspects of developing a site like this, which breaks new ground in its attempts to combine traditional journalism with contributions by non-professional writers, is how we define the role of our editors.
Professional writers know the benefits of a second eye on both the detail of their copy, and the way in which it is presented, and are used to their words being subbed, clarified and trimmed. On the internet in particular, it is vital that headlines and standfirsts are optimised so that the guides come as high in the results of a Google search as possible.
So, in what has been a major investment in the quality of the site, all guides loaded up so far have been professionally edited to the standard that you might expect in print journalism. Our editors have also exerted a process of quality control on what we select for publication - sending back about 65 per cent of guides submitted since launch, with suggestions on how their copy might be improved. Many writers have appreciated this feedback. A few have, frankly, been offended that we haven’t automatically accepted their work.
Of course, putting aside a few basics such as correct grammar, all such judgments are subjective – and it's open to debate whether a guide should be excluded solely on the judgment of the editors. One of our aims must be to provide travel writing of the highest quality – but another is to create a community that shares information and advice, encouraging open discussion among users. Where should we draw the line on which contributions we accept?
Perhaps you feel we should leave such judgments to the reviewers who actually use the guides? After all, it gives the users more guides to choose from. Or perhaps you think it would be a bad thing for the site and those who use it and write for it, if we didn’t insist on the highest standards of journalism - however arbitrary they may be?
I’d be really interested in your views on whether we should stick with our current system, or look for ways to make the site more open to a wider range of contributors. Please do comment, whether you are a writer or a user.