Rantings of a sub-editor

June 7, 2010

Error message to the rescue

Filed under: the Guardian — substuff @ 6:58 am
Tags: , ,

Well it was my third shift at the Guardian yesterday, and I continue in fine form. The main excitement on this occasion was caused by a small button called “send to walls”  – or, rather, by me pressing it. Thank God it didn’t work.

I only subbed one web story yesterday, which is here. And I think it’s fair to say I made a right meal of it! Not the copy, which I am assured was fine. Not even the web only/print only bit. It was the photo that tripped me up on this occasion.

Now when you add a picture to a web story, you are given the option to crop it. You do so, and afterwards you are given the option to upload it. There may be a way of uploading it without doing the crops first, but if there is, I don’t know it.

Things were a little hazy in my memory, it having been a couple of weeks since I was shown how to do the web part of it, and my notes weren’t making a lot of sense to me. But the bit that really confused me was that I had chosen a photo that I didn’t think needed cropping. So I stuck it on the form, filled in the caption and the alternative text, did the credits… and… I figured that was ready to go.

So there I am, with my completed web form and my completed story, and I have three options at the bottom. One is “add crops”, but I’ve misguidedly decided I don’t need to do this. One is “edit”. One is “send to walls”. Well this seems the only logical option for sending the picture to the web story (no? it has the word “send” in it at least!) so I choose that one. I’m rewarded with an error message saying there are rights restrictions on the picture.

So to the art desk I go, and from there am sent to the web art desk upstairs where I explain somewhat ineptly what the problem is (or in fact what the problem isn’t). We look at the details on the pic, ascertain that there’s nothing wrong there.

“I just don’t understand what you’re clicking that would bring up that error message,” says the man.

“It’s when I click ‘send to walls’,” I say. “It just won’t let me go further than that.”

“‘Send to walls’?” He looks at me as if I have just pulled out a gun. “But that means send to the walls. Of the building. You can’t do that. You shouldn’t have the option to do that.”

Ah. Those gigantic screens on the outside of the building.

There follows a patient and detailed explanation of what I should have done, of which I understand about word in every three and try to convey the impression that it is more like two words in every three. Sixty percent of my brain is busy begging the ground – or at least the third floor – to swallow me, you see. As I make my retreat, I get the distinct impression he is phoning the local straitjacket provider.

I’ve never had much room in my heart for error messages, but today, just this once, I am sending them all a little hug.

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