Take the time to read the instructions – both the general help/tips page given by the Transcription Centre as well as any instructions given for a particular project. It saves time and your fellow #volunpeers won’t get so frustrated when they come to review your work.
Even if you DON’T read the instructions
Have a look at a “completed” page or two of the project.
Especially if you want to start editing. Sometimes projects are not transcribed in the standard format and there’s normally a very good reason for this! Check it before changing it.
Instructions don’t cover EVERY situation
Realise the Transcription Centre has kept the general help section short. It doesn’t cover all the situations you’ll come across in all the projects they give to us. That’s part of the fun of being a #volunpeer - YOU are creating the content.
Notations and Methods that work for me
The following is how I transcribe for the Transcription Centre. If there is any doubt/issues ask the Transcription Centre as they have the final word on how a project should be transcribed.
Underlined, Strikethrough, Can’t read, good guess
[[underlined]] text [[/underlined]] for underlined text.
[[strikethrough]] text [[/strikethrough] for text that has been struck out by writer.
Main aim is to be searchable so put a space between the [[text]] and the actual transcription.
If you can’t work out what a word is write [[?]]. If you are not sure of several words write [[?]] for each word. For example:
This [[?]] [[?]] sentence I’m not [[?]] of.
If you think you can guess the word, write your best guess inside those double brackets and keep the question mark. For example you THINK the writer has written “Smithsonian” but you are not sure. Transcribe as [[Smithsonian?]]
You can combine ALL of the above. So if the word is struck out & underlined, you can’t read it but you think its “Smithsonian” I would transcribe as:
I know it can be a bit ugly looking but it IS accurate!
You ONLY need to put these notations in if you are transcribing a project that has two pages per image. You don’t need either of these at the very top or very bottom of a page.
I use the notation [[Blank page]]. If there are two blank pages in the image I use
Often in handwritten projects the writer will have forgotten words or gone back and corrected by adding in insertions. They might use the ^ symbol to indicate this. I transcribe this as
^ [[insertion]] text [[/insertion]]
Where there is an insertion without the ^ I transcribe as
[[insertion]] text [[/insertion]]
I DON’T normally transcribe the [[insertion]] notation where a person has struck out the word and replaced it while writing. In that instance, I use the [[strikethrough]] notation.
BUT you will get the case where a writer has later come along, struck out some writing and added in more information with a ^. In that case I DO use the above notation. Use your own judgement and try and be consistent.
In typed text projects insertions are easier - the ^[[text]] notation is used to show handwritten additions to typed text.
I often come across projects where writers have made notes in the margin. I usually transcribe as
[[margin]] note [[/margin]].
If the writer has made notes in both the left and right margins I’ll transcribe as
[[left margin]] note [[/margin]]
[[right margin]] note [[/margin]]
As to WHERE to put the margin note, that it depends on the project and your judgement. Sometimes it makes sense to put all margin notes at the top of the transcription page, sometimes it makes better sense to put the margin note above the appropriate section. Use your judgement, check other completed pages of the project for a guide and ensure consistency.
If there is preprinted or stamped text in a document I transcribe as
[[preprinted]] text [[/preprinted]]
[[stamped]] text [[/stamped]]
This clarifies to any reader or researcher what the writer ACTUALLY wrote.
Sometimes page numbers are handwritten in circles or text has been circled for emphasis. I’ll transcribe as
[[circled]] text [[/circled]]
I think whether to note that the text is in superscript depends on your judgement. If I do note text as superscript, I transcribe as
1[[superscript]] st [[/superscript]]
However this maybe unnecessary and 1st may do.
Lines in text
This is another example of where you should use your own judgement. I use a variety of methods to transcribe lines drawn in text. Examples of the methods I’ve used in various projects are as follows:
[[line across page]]
[[vertical line]] or [[horizontal line]]
Latin names/place names
Where the writer is using scientific names, terms or place names I’m not familiar with I Google it. I find Google, Wikipedia and www.geonames.org invaluable. Once I think I’ve found the appropriate information I make a note in the “Notes on Transcribing this page (optional)” box so that other transcribers can benefit from the knowledge gained.
If I’m concentrating on one particular project I’ll often keep a piece of paper beside the computer listing the Googled terms so that I don’t have to keep looking them up.
Symbols/accents on letters
Often projects will have symbols/accents on letters etc. I use the Character Map on my desktop computer for these. If I’m unable to find the appropriate symbol, I transcribe it as
I may even describe the symbol. For example:
[[degree symbol]] etc.
Transcribing ” “, Do or Ditto’s
One of the main aims of the Transcription Centre is to ensure any document transcribed is searchable. The Transcription Centre would therefore like any ” marks, Do, or Ditto to be transcribed. For example
Two little red hens
" " " foxes
Should be transcribed as
Two little red hens
" " " [[Dittos for: Two little red]] foxes
Symbols in Botany, Entomology Projects etc
If you come across a symbol here, it is REALLY important to accurately transcribe it. For example in the Bee projects there is often a hand drawn symbol which indicates whether the bee is male, female, neuter, virgin female etc. This is very important information for researchers.
If you can’t find the symbol on Google, transcribe it as [[symbol]] and make a note in the “Notes on Transcribing this page (optional)” box. Hopefully another volunpeer or the Smithsonian staff can add the information.
Other issues in Botany, Entomology Projects
One recent issue that has arisen in the Bee projects is the difference between “collector” and “collection”. “Collector” is the person who actually went out in the field and collected the bug, plant etc. If the specimen label just says “collection of” you can’t put the owner of that collection down as the collector of that specimen. They may have acquired the specimen by various different methods including swapping with other collectors, purchasing it or being given it.
Titles of people (esp. Collectors).
This mainly comes up when transcribing botany or entomology collections. It is REALLY important to transcribe the title of women collectors – be it Miss or Mrs.
We are transcribing old documents and these women are frequently collecting with their fathers, brothers or husbands. Without their title being noted, their work is attributed to these men.
Often married women collectors are using their husbands’ full names. For example I’ve previously transcribed a collector as Mrs D. D. Gaillard (she was the wife of Colonel D.D. Gaillard). If you don’t transcribe her title, her scientific work will be credited to her husband.
This is another example of where you should use your own judgment. Sometimes the image is as simple as an arrow drawing on the text. Some examples are:
[[image – arrow pointing to line above]]
At other times it is a complex drawing of the anatomy of an animal.
[[image – pencil sketch of a bee]]
Or it could be a photograph
[[image – black and white photograph of landscape with three men standing in the foreground]]
I normally do my best to transcribe within [[image - ]] what the image actually is or looks like, as well as how the image is made.
I will also transcribe any written information, labels or key on the diagram in the transcription.
Tables of information in text
This is another example of where you should use your own judgment. There is a lot of variety in the type and size of tables used in different projects. So there is no best way to transcribe them. I often put descriptions of the table inside the [[text]] box and use the | symbol to indicate going from one column to another. For example
[[Table title]] Wallpaper samples [[/title]]
[[Table with four columns with headers Lot Number, Pattern, colour, size]]
Lot Number | Pattern | Colour | Size
1 | Tudor | cream | s
2 | Victorian | red | xl
3 | Edwardian | blue | m
Transcribe the written work as actually written. I’m sure there will be language experts out there keen to research the spelling mistakes!
Other helpful hints.
If in doubt, transcribe as best you can and put a note in the “Notes on Transcribing this page (optional)” box describing the issue. Check back on that page later as a fellow volunpeer may leave some helpful guidance for you.
Contacting the Transcription Centre
You can ask the transcription staff if you have any issues with the Transcription Centre or any projects there. Personally I find the best way is to tweet to @transcribeSI. The staff are wonderfully helpful and friendly. They want to know what you need help with and are keen to get answers out to you.
Another way to contact the Transcription Centre is to fill in the feedback form obtained by pressing the “feedback” tab to the right of the transcription box. The Transcription Centre is also on Facebook so you could also leave your query there.
Contact other #volunpeers
You can always ask for help from other volunpeers via Twitter. Use #volunpeers or follow other volunpeers who have posted to @transcribeSI. Everyone I’ve come across so far has been friendly and keen to help.
If you find something of interest, TELL someone. Don’t assume that they will already know. We are transcribing documents that very few people have seen or read. They’d have to go to the Smithsonian, make an appointment and physically be there to read the whole document.
So email that institute explaining you’ve found mentions of their founder in a diary. Contact that institution with corrections to their database. Tweet links to the bee projects to that conservation group concerned about pollinators. Create or edit that Wikipedia page on that important collector you’ve discovered. Add the name of that scientist to the Smithsonian Wikipedia “to do” list.
And don’t forget to Tweet or Facebook the Transcription Centre with interesting finds. They don’t get to have the fun of REALLY getting to know these projects by transcribing them. Let them share in the delight of the finds we make.
Could you post some stuff about migraine auras? I used to get an aura before a migraine (this sort of sparkly streak in the vision of my left eye). For the last few years though I only get the aura, and maybe a very mild migrane (or no migrane at all). What's up with that? (And I am just realising the aura is always on the left, so that's got to mean something too, right?) Thanks!
And the way that migraines work, it’s common to both “grow out of them” (if they started before 30, and especially before 25) and for aura-only migraines to be common before that point.
While it’s clearly a relief for most people to not have the debilitating headache, it’s still important to pay attention to the aura, because in addition to (possibly) signalling an oncoming headache, it also distorts the senses, and you don’t want to keep driving or operating heavy machinery as if nothing’s happening while you deal with it.
As for it occurring on the left side…maybe? But probably not something significant. If it gets worse or more frequent, you obviously want to see a doctor, because some migraine symptoms are also shared with more serious conditions, and people who have migraines are at the same risk as others of having other serious brain conditions, such as aneurysm and tumors. Not that it’s likely, but you always want to make sure to rule things like that out.
do you have any health tips? how to stay healthey/get healthy/mistakes people make etc?
Uhhhh 1. Not a doctor, and 2. nothing I say here should be taken seriously, but sure!
ARALLYN GIVES HEALTH TIPS
Make sure it’s water! H2O is much more satisfying than H2O2.
Don’t pet platypodes, at least if they’re male. They’ll venom-spike your butt.
Heavy water will kill you if you drink it exclusively.
Don’t offend the giraffes.
Eat your kale! I don’t know why but people keep telling me that it’s “good for you”, so do that.
Mostly don’t listen to people who tell you what’s “good for you”, cause humans are mostly dumb. If they’re a doctor they might not be as stupid, but if they’re trying to sell you something, you still might not want to listen to them.
Try to keep the alcohol content in your blood under half of your total volume. I hear it’s essential to life.
Don’t be an asshole. It can lead to being punched in the face. THAT’S not healthy.
In the words of my grade 9 health teacher, “THE ANUS DOES NOT SELF-LUBRICATE” (no, really, that was her one consistent line throughout the semester)
Remember that you need to eat and bathe when you get engrossed in video games. Also move! Moving is good for you.
DON’T TRY TO LIVE ON PIZZA HUT FOOD. IT WILL MAKE YOU DEAD.
Hey, just began reading your blog and I absolutely love it. I just wanted to ask about what qualifications you have (university degree wise), due to your obvious extensive knowledge, or if its just research you've done on the internet?
I have 4.5 out of 5 years finished on a dual Dairy Science and Microbiology degree. However, most of the stuff I post on here comes from a lot of research online, and knowing how to find *accurate* sources with reliable information.
Not to say everything I post here is totally correct (as always, corrections are welcome, so long as you’re civil), but most of the time, mistakes are on stuff I mis-typed or didn’t have the most recent research on.
Friendly reminder that I am not a doctor, and even if I were, nothing I say on here constitutes medical advice or opinion. It’s for fun. Can’t you just have fun for an hour, without trying to diagnose that mystery boil? I think you’ve earned it! So sit back, relax, and enjoy the posts.*
Hi, I saw your recent post that had to do with the renal connections to the urinary system. I have Orthostatic Proteinuria-normal amounts of protein in a persons urine through the night, but an increase through the day. I was wondering if you could post about this semi-normal condition. Some questions like what are the causes, what does this mean for the future, or of any other effects. As far as I know, a good percent of the population has this, but for me, I am interested in more information.
Well, due to activity/standing/walking about during the day (leading to more muscle activity/breakdown), everyone’s urine protein content increases during the day, but in orthostatic proteinuria, it just increases more than what’s considered “normal”. Since there are no clinical signs of disease in this condition, most people who have it don’t know it, so it’s hard to say what exactly the long-term effects of it are, since we don’t really know the true percentage of healthy people who have it.
While someone who has this for their entire life is unusual, many people going through growth spurts or who have bodies still adjusting to adulthood end up showing increased albumin excretion (the primary protein excreted in urine) until their late 20s or early 30s.
If it persists beyond then, it appears to have a strong correlation with an increased risk of kidney stones (mitigated by never getting dehydrated) and may have an association with an increase in kidney disease/failure at 60+ years, but that is weaker with its correlation, and is not thought to be directly causative.
All in all, it seems to just be a variation on “normal” - most people who have it never experience any kidney problems or symptoms, and it often goes away in time.
Do you know anything about how chronic fatigue syndrome is caused by viruses such as Epstein Barr? And in your opinion what sort of direction should research be going in to help treat people with the illness? Thanks your blog is spot on!
Well, from the most recent studies, while there’s a post-viral syndrome occasionally associated with EBV, it seems that EBV in and of itself is not a causative or strongly associated organism when it comes to chronic fatigue syndrome (CFS). The fact of the matter is, most people get exposed to Epstein-Barr during their childhood, and while it doesn’t always cause disease, the presence of antibodies to the virus doesn’t necessarily mean anything.
It’s been a while since I’ve looked deeply into virology, and for as much as I love it, I have no idea where it stands right now when it comes to CFS. I know that there are various autoimmune conditions and other viral infections being investigated to see if they have any correlation (or causative mechanism) related to CFS.
I do know that there’s been a recent emergence of fatigue-specialized doctors in my area - while it’s not a board-certified specialty yet, hopefully it’s still good news for those with fibromyalgia, CFS, and infectious causes of fatigue.
Do you know why in kidney transplants the recipient doesn't have the non functioning kidney removed but rather has the donor organ added in? I know unless it is diseased it's just kept in but not sure why?
Less risk, in short. There are inherent risks involved in removing an organ, whether or not it’s going to be replaced. In many cases, the existing kidneys may not function well, but do have a minimal amount of processing power, and still have a full blood supply. As an additional kidney can be added into the urinary system with less fuss than full replacement, and less overall risk, even if the recipients kidneys are completely non-functional. If the recipient kidneys are going haywire, however, and are sending out all sorts of bad signals or harboring cancers or incurable disease, they’re removed.
Adrenal failure can also occur when adrenal glands are removed from their kidney hosts (as happens when recipient kidneys are removed - often the adrenal glands are not affected by kidney disease), and adding lifelong adrenal supplements to an already-large number of immunosuppressant drugs needed after transplantation is not exactly ideal.
"Piggybacking" or heterotopic transplantation is also occasionally used in heart transplants, particularly when it’s a pediatric patient who is not receiving donor lungs at the same time. It’s also been used in liver transplants in very select cases. However, both of those surgeries are non-standard, and require very experienced surgeons at specialized transplant centers.
Yo I was just diagnosed with PFAPA, do you know anything about it?
Yikes, have fun with that? At least it’s not contagious, unlike most forms of aphthous stomatis (like cold sores).
I assume to be diagnosed with this condition, you’ve already been tested for Epstein-Barr and cytomegalovirus, but as you’ve seen, it can mimic those two viruses (which many people know from having mono) combined with cold sores (painful little mouth ulcers that hurt much more than their size would suggest they should).
PFAPA, to those who don’t know, is Periodic Fever, Aphthous Stomatitis, Pharyngitis and Adenopathy, and generally presents as, well, exactly what its name implies - periodic fever, “cold sores”, sore throat, and swollen lymph nodes (most often in the throat, just like in mono). It usually lasts a few days at a time, several (3+) times a year.
Generally, it seems to be an autoimmune reaction to a previous infection, and what it isn’t, and how it responds to symptomatic treatment tend to be the defining factors for diagnosis. Once the viruses and genetic or autoimmune conditions that cause similar symptoms are excluded, the patient is generally given a prednisone injection when the fever flares again - if the fever decreases immediately, the patient is diagnosed with PFAPA.
While most patients are diagnosed between 3 weeks and 7 years of age, and the condition almost always resolves on its own by 10 years old, teens and adults are occasionally diagnosed. Teenagers often overcome the condition on their own, though it may take up to two decades. Adults sometimes never overcome it, though their ability to self-treat with prednisone injections and anti-inflammatory medications can minimize the impact to their professional and personal lives.
why do house centipedes in contact with humans live longer?
Ooh, that was poorly worded of me - I meant that while there are some VERY long-living arthropods out in the wild (especially insect queens, which can sometimes live decades), humans don’t regularly come into contact with any bugs that live longer than house centipedes.
The most commonly encountered house bugs in temperate climates are fruit flies (which live a few days to several weeks), other flies (several weeks to a couple months), ants (several weeks), and house spiders (most live up to a year).
So with its lifespan being 3+ years, house centipedes often out-stay renters in apartments, if they’re not killed off.
Hirsutoid papillomas (pearly penile papules - sometimes mistaken for Tyson glandulae, and which affect up to 30% of males aged 20-40 years) are uniform, arranged in rows, and do not have any other HPV symptoms. They can last and recur over many years, while HPV infection is self-limiting to under two-years. They’re also harmless.
Syphilis causes open or ulcerative sores, swellings that go away and then present secondary symptoms, is non-uniform (like HPV), and has easy cures and testing available.
Hey! Do you live in Wisconsin? Or does Ale Asylum actually export their stuff around the country? (They’re a Wisconsin brewery I think)
Grew up in Madison! Just a couple minutes away from Ale Asylum’s first brewery (where Karben4 brews these days). They set up when I was in high school, but I never really knew their products until my brother would bring them home over the summer when I was in college. Ale Asylum only exports as far south as Northern Illinois, and I don’t think they export to Iowa or Minnesota. It’s too bad.