Title: 2073

Wednesday, Sep 10, 2008

September 2008

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The Great Comic Transcription Project of 2008!

September 10, 2008
1:37 PM

Hey there, everyone! Well, if you haven’t noticed it already in the archives, I’ve enabled comic transcription for each of the strips. Why? Well, for one, once all the comics are in the system like that, they’re SEARCHABLE. And not just by word – by prop or location, to boot. Also, by having the info on the page itself, it means GOOGLE can see that page too, so you don’t even have to use the Real Life search engine (which, let’s be fair, isn’t up yet. But I digress.) The thing is – I need your help to bring it all together.

Basically, it’s a feel-good project. You’re helping get a nice system in place to make the comic a more accessible being. You’re changing the (admittedly very small)

How do you join the fun*? Easy – just head to http://www.reallifecomics.com/archive/info/ and click a strip. Yes, I realize the formatting is completely broken – I’ve got Phillip working on it as we speak to get it looking somewhat pretty.

However, before you do, I IMPLORE you to read these instructions first – they go into a bit more detail about how all this works. I know it’s long, but it contains extremely pertinent information – and you only have to read it once. :) (They’re adapted from the instructions you’ll find at http://www.reallifecomics.com/archive/info/, but that was written for Goats.com, and isn’t necessarily applicable. It will be updated to the following rules very soon – I promise!)

*may or may not actually be fun.


Transcription Guidelines

With thanks to Simon Larsen, author of the original version of this document for Goats.com.

Welcome to the wonderful and shiny new world of Data Entry for Fun. It’s kind of like having a really meaningless and boring job that drains all of the enjoyment out of anything, except you do it for fun! How do we know it’s fun? Well you don’t get paid, so it must be fun.

So how to proceed with the processing of data process?

Go to the data entry list at http://www.reallifecomics.com/archive/info/ and click a strip to get started!

Read the spiel about making a commitment. Click “edit this strip”.

You will now see the strip for that date with the first panel but no data.

Click “edit”. The world explodes with options.

Now it is time to use the grey matter a touch.

All props, characters and locations are objects. All objects have attributes. For example there is an character called Greg. He has attributes. They include “sitting”, “at computer” and “covered in soup”. Some of these attributes already exist for him; others can be created when needed. There are also props such as the shirt Greg wears on his head when he becomes the Shirt Ninja.

The art to good data entry is to enter the objects and their attributes correctly. So instead of entering the prop as “Shirt Ninja Shirt”, the desired choice is “Costume” with the attribute “Shirt Ninja”.

To do this, select the objects you require (location, props, and characters) for your first frame. Then hit “update”.

You will now be presented with the available attributes for each of the objects. Note that you don’t have to choose an attribute; sometimes a cigar is just a cigar. If a desired attribute is missing, simply add it. Note that you do not have to go too crazy entering in attributes – you don’t need to enter in who a character is facing, or little things like what they’re near. All characters are assumed to be standing by default – there’s no need to enter it in as an attribute. Also – “at the computer” precludes “sitting” – so far, there’s never been a time when someone has been standing at a computer. :)

Select the desired attributes, and then type in the speech for each character. Note that a non-speaking character has an entry, but no text. Quick note: If a character speaks more than once in a panel, such as speaking, then responding to someone else, add that character to the panel twice, so the speaking order is preserved. Hit “update” again and you will see all your delightful text in there, the objects with their attributes and a new bonus: the speech order for each character. If it’s out of order, go ahead and change it. Be sure to click update after any changes you make, or they won’t stick.

Click “back to strip”.

You will see a large labour saving device in the form of the “Clone” button. If you hit this, you get a copy of the cloned panel of your choice (sans text). Gee, isn’t life grand! This single button will have publicans cheering worldwide as you finish your entry quicker and go to the pub earlier…

Repeat the above process for the remaining panels and then, when you are happy with the completed strip, change the “Status:” to “Mark For Approval”.

So that’s the basic mechanics of the process.

Data Entry Guidelines and Advanced Technique

Now the semantic aspects. What props are really props, and which things should be left out?

Here at Real Life we strongly support both the pedants and the lazy, so….

Pedant mode: EVERYTHING MATTERS!!! Put the table in there, what? A collection of personal grooming implements? Whack them in too.

When in pedant mode you should be aware that you are likely creating loads of new objects and attributes. Before making a new object, please have a good look through the list of existing objects. Doubtless there will be one you can use even if you need to put a new attribute in there for it. Trust us when we say this is for your own good. We have your address, we know people in many lands, nowhere is too far!

Lazy Mode: Some things matter. If it matters, put it in there. Try not to be too lazy… If the Black Pants Samurai attacks someone with a Samurai Sword, the sword is pretty important. Again, follow the pedants rule regarding new objects and attributes.

In addition to these two modes, there are some considerations for things that happen from time to time: typos. Greg makes a LOT of typos, and while fixing them in your transcription is useful for the search, that doesn’t call attention to the typo. Hence there is a character called Correction. So, in the event that you were certain that a serious typo had occurred (not just an artistic choice of slang over queens english ) you could add the character “Correction” to the panel and have that character speak the “correct” lines right underneath the original lines – that way Greg can spot it and fix it, and make it go away. :)

Some things function as both a prop and a character, like PAL. When PAL is IN the comic but not speaking, such as when Dave is just using the computer, it should be marked as a prop “Desktop Computer” with the attribute “PAL”. When PAL is speaking, he’s a full-on character, so mark him as such. Similarly with the Dreamcast, when he is just IN the comic, put him in as a prop called “Game Console”, with the attribute “Dreamcast”. When he’s talking, he’s the character “Dreamcast”. Basically, anything that speaks is a character – anything that sits there uninterestingly is a prop. SIGNS are characters – they have words. If you don’t set it as a character, those words won’t show up in the search. It might seem complicated, but I promise – it’s not. :)

Also, some comics have footnotes. In this situation, add the “Footnote” character to the last panel, and have it speak last in the speaking order. Also use this character if there is a guest comic – and no matter how that guest artist tagged their own strip, the proper format to use is “Guest Comic by XXXXX”. That way, if someone searches the archives for “Guest Comic”, all the guest strips will come up.