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Exclusive Interview with Yahoo! Managing Editor Chris Barr

In AC News on July 23, 2010 at 3:34 pm

The “Yahoo! Style Guide: The Ultimate Sourcebook for Writing, Editing and Creating Content for the Digital World” hit bookstores on July 6, 2010 and is one of the most comprehensive writing resources for Web content specialists, bloggers, UI designers and anyone working in the digital content field.

If you’re an Associated Content Contributor, pick up a copy of this book (or snag one from AC’s giveaway — more details at the end of this post) so that you can find out exactly what type of content Yahoo! is looking for, how to fine-tune your writing for the Web, and how to deliver compelling, quality content consistently — Yahoo! style!

I caught up with Chris Barr, one of Yahoo!’s managing editors, to learn more about the guide, and also picked up a few writing tips straight from the source.

Feel free to leave questions and comments at the end of this post, and bookmark the official Yahoo! Style Guide website so that you have full access to the free tips and posts from Yahoo! editors.

About the Yahoo! Style Guide

Chris Barr explains that the Yahoo! Style Guide,  “started out as an internal reference on how to write “Yahoo!” and was used by Yahoo! Web content developers to attract and build audiences. Little by little the guide grew as Yahoo! ventured into new areas, and was asked for by writers, marketers, editors, programmers, community managers, and product managers. Today it provides guidance for all writers in the company network, whether they’re bloggers, video producers, reporters, newsletter copywriters, or documentation specialists. We’re happy to share these best practices with the world because everybody benefits when content is concise and easy to read.”

Exclusive Interview with Chris Barr

SK: How many people contributed to the Yahoo! Style Guide?

CB: A core group of 12 put together “The Yahoo! Style Guide,” but it was influenced by many past and present Yahoo! writers, editors, and content creators. We name more than 40 people in the acknowledgements and I’m sure we missed a number of valuable contributors.

SK: Tell us a little bit about yourself! How long have you been with Yahoo! and what are your primary roles and responsibilities. What inspired you to create the book?

CB: I’m a long-time online editor, beginning at PC Magazine in the 1980s — a time when “online” was not the Internet, and I became the founding editor-in-chief of CNET in 1995.

I joined Yahoo! in 2007 and serve as senior editorial director. My team:

  • Sets the global editorial standards for Yahoo! style and voice, all aspects of user interaction text, blogging guidelines, policy (advertorial, appropriateness), and similar documentation
  • Teaches Yahoos worldwide how to be better writers and editors, whether they’re blogging, programming front doors, creating new products, or writing for marketing or public relations
  • Upholds the standards through editing or writing copy for new properties and features as well as visible network and corporate content, such as front page packages, blogs (News, entertainment), marketing copy, press releases, etc.

The guide is based on the “Yahoo! Editorial Style Guide” that was in use when I arrived. It was so good that I thought with a little rework we could make it available to writers outside Yahoo!. Little did I know that it would take two years to complete!

SK: How does Associated Content factor into Yahoo!’s overall editorial strategy?
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