[bksvol-discuss] Why People Submit Poor Quality Scans

  • From: Monica Willyard <plumlipstick@xxxxxxxxxx>
  • To: bksvol-discuss@xxxxxxxxxxxxx
  • Date: Tue, 26 Sep 2006 16:49:17 -0400

Dear Bookshare friends, I think we're making several assumptions about people who submit poor scans. Because of that, I would like to propose a solution that may work. Even if you disagree with me, would you please hear me out and give this some thought?

First, I think we assume that people submit bad scans just to get credits. That may be true in some cases, but I don't think it applies to everyone. I also think it's possible to have several motives for submission mixed together, motives like wanting to share a good book paired with wanting to earn credits.

I think we also assume that all of these people know how to create quality scans. If they aren't on this list, that's probably a wrong assumption. I used to think that getting a 93 percent scan was great because I didn't have anything to compare it to. I thought I was doing just fine and would have rated my scan as good or even excellent in some cases. I would have done this because the book is excellent compared to most of my other scans. As I look back now, many of my older scans are flat out garbage! It took seeing how Katie and Tom scan and submit for me to see how poor my scans were. Then I felt ashamed of my sloppy scans and would have quit but for Katie's encouragement and Elizabeth and Gerald's clear, direct help.

Another assumption I catch myself making is that Bookshare members really understand the purpose of the two mailing lists and that they can learn from this list even if they aren't an official volunteer. I talked to someone the other day who was submitting books and volunteering for a year before joining our list and learning from it. How might the knowledge here have impacted her submissions during that year?

The other assumption I found myself making is that people are using K1000, Openbook, or FineReader to scan books. I found out today that there are two scanning programs that sell for $75, and some of our members may be using those.

Ok, you might be thinking, so what could possibly resolve these issues? I can think of three things. Can you come up with some too?

First, most of us know at least one person who is submitting books here and who isn't on this list. We could spend a little time teaching that person about how to adjust OCR settings to get better scans and gently teach the person about solving his or her specific bugaboos. You know, we all have scanners with minds of their own, and there were certain errors we had to compensate for over time to get our scans to come out better. (smile) Some people won't care, but others will gladly accept help to get better scans.

Second, we can personally invite these people to join one of the lists if they like to submit books. Then they have an immediate source of help if they hit a scanning problem they can't solve. If they're shy, they can read the archives for ideas or write to someone privately.

The third solution would be on Benetech's end. I think it would help submitters if they had a better set of guidelines for rating their books. What does the phrase "some errors" actually mean? Bookshare doesn't rate your book as you submit it like it does when you validate. For those of us without K1000, how can we rate our book accurately if we know it has errors but don't know how many? Bookshare has made the ratings for submissions a very subjective thing that submitters have no concrete guidelines for. As a consequence, validaters will keep on getting poorly scanned books rated as excellent by submitters who may not be sure how their book should be rated.

What do you all think?  Do you think this is on track, or am I nuts?

Monica Willyard

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