Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Golden Rule of Authoring

Here's an exerpt from Moshe Vardi's editorial in the July 2010 issue of CACM:
... we are the authors and we are the reviewers. It is not "them reviewers;" it is "us reviewers." Hillel the Elder, a Jewish scholar, 30 B.C.-10 A.D., said "What is hateful to you, do not do to your fellow." This is known as the Silver Rule in moral philosophy. The Golden Rule, which strengthens the Silver Rule, asserts "do unto others as you would have them do to you." Allow me to rephrase this as the Golden Rule of Reviewing: "Write a review as if you are writing it to yourself." This does not mean that we should not write critical reviews! But the reviews we write must be fair, weighing both strengths and weaknesses; they must be constructive, suggesting how the weaknesses can be addressed; and, above all, they must be respectful. After all, these are the reviews that we would like to receive!
I'm inspired by this. So inspired that I decided to hazard a conjecture for the Golden Rule of Authoring: "Write a paper as if you are writing your last paper and you would like it to be your best paper, ever." A conjecture that by no means should be a surprising one.