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Ingrid Towey: How to edit other people's content without pissing them off


How do you edit so people want to work with you? Towey shares lessons learned from homeschooling her kids.


Towey's editing principles:

  • We're all on the same side - the customer's. Focus on helping the reader get a job done to build common ground with the writer.
  • Editing is a conversation, not an edict. Make your edits reversible. Focus on what the writer is trying to make and help them.
  • Explain why you made an edit. Rely on objective authorities for evidence, like readability tests and style guides.
  • Get help. Recommendations for a group review: review content in advance. Focus on only a few items. Have clear writing principles. Be kind. Some recommendations for how to facilitate.


"Assume positive intent. Care about the person you're working with. Then everybody wins."

Many of Towey's recommendations apply to code reviews. A good relationship and shared goals will make code reviews a better experience and keep focus on the outcome.

Towey built a working catapult with her kids. Let's take a moment to appreciate that.