Public Notes on Word Entries


I’m curious if the “public note” feature has been defined anywhere. Would be great to understand its purpose. Best I can find is this offhand reference:

As always, thanks for everything.

I’m interested, too. You mean random notes from the public are going to start appearing on entries without us knowing it?

I left one of these notes on the cheek entry. If you can see it, then the answer to your question is yes. Sounds like it would be mobile app only right now. I also am not really sure if I used this feature the way it was intended.

It all sounds like a really bad idea, as I seem to have no way of seeing or policing what’s put there.

You have to start somewhere with the etymonline social media mega-app.

I intensely detest the idea of letting anyone write anything, unseeable by me, on a public venue where I bear responsibility. And I have no time and less patience to be goddamned kindergarten cop on a goddamned internet chat board, or the world’s homework helper.

The world out there is chewing up my butt about how bad the site is and I am trying every day to make it better and I have a list of dates and words to check that is thousands of lines long. My years and eyesight are running out. I do not have obscenity obscenity time for this.

I don’t mean you or anyone of course.

You certainly don’t have time for that and Etymonline really is a beautiful place.

You seem to be tooling up the site lately. I’m excited for whatever is to come. Hopefully that includes an improvement over what appears to be the current one-guy-trying-to-contend-with-the-entire-history-of-English system.

It’s never going to be wiki slop or corporate clickbait in my lifetime. There is an essential research partner now. Which means two of us cursing at everything in sight.

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As the head of the development team, I’m here to provide some explanations.

The function of Notes, which is still under development, is designed to facilitate the recording and sharing of inspirations and thoughts while looking up words.

In the Notes feature, there are two options: private and public, which are labeled as “Only you can view” and “Visible to everyone” respectively. However, you might be wondering why you haven’t seen any public notes from others.

This is because the feature is still in development. Like forums, we want to ensure that public notes are safe for use in school classrooms. Therefore, there’s a moderation process to filter out unsafe content and spam. Since this moderation feature is not yet complete, all public notes are currently only visible to the creator. Once the moderation is implemented, they will be visible to others.

So, why did we develop and release this public notes feature?

Our team designed the public notes feature at the very beginning, but we didn’t want users to suddenly discover their notes categorized as public and private, worrying about unintentionally sharing their private notes. Therefore, when we launched the notes feature, we included both states.

We don’t intend for public notes to become a comment feature, and they won’t mix with the main content of the dictionary; so it’s not Wikipedia or anything similar. It’s just notes. Of course, this requires collaboration, similar to this forum. We provide the tools, but the ultimate shape is maintained and developed by all the users together.

Note is a paid feature for Premium users, currently also available to free users. In the future, we will add a data export function, allowing users to export their added notes.

If you have any suggestions or concerns, feel free to share and discuss them here.

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I only have one concern, and here it is:

Including any kind of “notes” feature, on the site or on the app, is a mistake and in fact a disservice. There is no useful function for it to provide, except ones that every user has at their fingertips already. What it’s good for is allowing people like me to muck up the site. People like me already have this forum, which is kept separate for just that reason - to stop us from mucking up the main site.

If you really do want my notes to be kept on the site, then prove it by hiring me. (I’m not serious about being hired, but I’m serious that that’s how stupid this mistake is.)

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Thank you for your reply. Your concern, in fact, is exactly what we’re worried about. I think it’s a concern that anyone who loves etymonline would have. Really appreciate that.

We’ve been very careful about the public notes feature, so even if we do show notes publicly in the future, it will be strictly isolated from the content of the dictionary itself, both in terms of functionality and visual design.