Principia Cybernetica Web

Guidelines for making annotations

We invite you to contribute to the Principia Cybernetica Web by writing an annotation with a comment, criticism, question or PCP-related reference. This annotation will be published on our server as a new "node", and become visible to all PCP Web users. Check the list of previous user annotations for examples.

You can annotate any node by clicking on the "Add Comment..." option in the lower sidebar. This will bring up an annotation form where the field for the node to be annotated is already filled in with the filename of the node you started from. You are invited to fill in the other fields of the form. When you have finished, you should click the "submit" button. The text of the annotation is then sent to the server, which passes it on to a specialised application which creates a new document formatted like the other PCP nodes, containing the text of your annotation. The application also adds links to your annotation in the existing document that was annotated, and in the list of all user annotations. Thus, your annotation can be immediately consulted by other users.

After creating the new document the application sends back an acknowledgment, containing a link to the newly created document.

Important: as the application is rather slow, the connection between server and application sometimes times out. In that case, the server sends an error message to the user. This does not mean that the annotation has failed. Normally, the annotation has effectively been created. If that happens, you should not resubmit the annotation! Otherwise, the same annotation may be added again (and again). Rather, go back to the node you wanted to annotate, and reload the document. Only if after reloading you still don't see a new link to your annotation, should you resubmit the annotation form.

Since there is as yet no mechanism for editing or correcting annotations, it is best to be very careful when filling in the different form fields, and to reread everything before you submit. If nevertheless a mistake should happen, you can resubmit the corrected version with the word "(corrected)" in the title. The original version with the mistake will then be deleted manually by the Webmaster.

Explanation of the different fields

Let us quickly pass over the fields in the annotation form.
Your Full Name:

You can keep the "name" field empty or leave the default "Firstname Lastname" in place, but then your annotation will be stored as "Author: Anonymous" which sounds rather silly.

URL of your personal page (optional):

A URL entered here, will be used to create a link from the author's name entered above to the page referenced by your URL. Please only use this for real personal pages. Links to other pages can best be entered elsewhere (see further). But if you do have a home page, please fill in its URL: if other people are interested by what you write in your annotation, this is the simplest way for them to get more information about you.

Your email address:

Filling in an email address is only useful if you did not enter the URL of your home page (which normally already contains your email and other coordinates). But if you don't have a home page, this is the only way others may get in touch with you.

Your (self-chosen) Password:
(optional, in case you want to make sure only you will be able to later edit your annotation, when editing will be implemented)

Let's hope I will find the time to eventually implement editing of existing nodes so that this would become useful. At present, you may just ignore it.

Annotated node (optional). :

This field is normally already filled in by default with the filename for the node you are annotating. The filename is the last part of the URL without the ".html" suffix. If you leave this blank, your comment will be interpreted as a general comment, to be added to the list of all annotations.

Choose type of annotation:

This is rather obvious. The annotation types at present don't have any special meaning for the system. They are just used to describe the annotation in the list of all annotations. In a later stage we might possibly start to interpret these as a kind of semantic link types, but don't worry too much about it now. The easiest is just to leave the default "Comment" option on.

Title of annotation:

Please choose a short and informative title for what you want to express. If this is left blank, the new document will just be titled "Annotation", but that seems a little bit stupid. If you don't really want to write a comment, but just want to add a link, you can leave the following text field blank and directly write the HTML code for the link in the title field, e.g.

Check <a href=URL> this link </a>

Text of annotation (optional):

Here we come to the heart of the matter, where you can fill in your comment or reflections. You are advised not to directly type the text into the form field, but rather write it in your favorite word processor or HTML editor. When you are completely satisfied with the text, you can then paste it into the form field. (If you use a WYSIWYG HTML editor, make sure that the text you copy and paste is the HTML source code, not just the WYSIWYG text as it would be seen in your browser). That way you will be better capable to produce a good formatting, spell checking, etc. Remember that annotations immediately become visible to everybody, and that there is no easy way to correct mistakes.

As you could guess, texts in HTML will look much better on the screen, and be able to incorporate links or even images, once the annotation is submitted. ASCII text is OK, but may be less pleasant to look at. If you are using plain text, please enter one carriage return at the end of each line, and two carriage returns to separate paragraphs.

You can also leave the text field empty, in which case only the title of your annotation will be added to the annotation list and no new document will be created. This is useful if your comment is only one line long, or if you just wish to add a link to another document (see above). You may also use this if you want to create a really long and elaborate annotation document with your own formatting that is kept on your own server. In that case, you just need to announce the new document via a link in the title field, and leave the text field empty.

Copyright© 1996 Principia Cybernetica - Referencing this page

F. Heylighen,

Feb 5, 1996 (modified)
Nov 27, 1995 (created)


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