How collaborative is the OED?

Jesse Sheidlower jester at PANIX.COM
Mon Dec 28 02:34:43 UTC 2009

On Sun, Dec 27, 2009 at 10:30:02AM -0500, Joel S. Berson wrote:
> On another list, someone remarked:
>> The OED was and to a lesser extent is a highly collaborative, highly
>> edited venture.
> How collaborative is it these days?  In numbers of volunteers vs.
> staff?  In numbers of quotations submitted by volunteers that are
> "admitted" vs. numbers from staff?  How does that compare to the old days?

As Fred notes, the majority of OED quotations now come from
databases (typically found by in-house researchers or editors)
rather than from reading-program volunteers. And the nature of
the reading programs has changed, since they're no longer the
primary way we gather citations.

However, there are still a very large number of people
involved in the project as volunteers, and we get quotations
(both hand-found and database-found), suggestions,
corrections, etc. all the time. I don't think there's any way
to quantify this, but it's certainly the case that
collaboration remains an important part of OED editorial

Jesse Sheidlower

The American Dialect Society -

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