Ask an Editor: Answers
Two editors bicker of rating procedures, order specifics and other hot topics.
We've compiled many of the questions you asked and tasked some team members with answering them. Ed. 1 and Ed. 2 have PhDs in Being Awesome, so we think you're in good hands.
Q. What would happen if I went over the word count and let the client have the extra words for free?
Ed. 1: The fabric of the universe would unravel!
Ed. 2: You would just be giving the client extra words. Some clients may ask you to lower your word count if you go over, but otherwise, you're just writing without pay.
Q. Is there any other way to make it to level 5?
Ed. 1: You could try chocolate. It won't work, but we encourage our authors to try.
Ed. 2: No. We do recommend authors once in a while, but otherwise, authors must pass proofreading prior to consideration.
Q. Do the editors just skim each article and look for major errors or do they check each line carefully? Does each editor read a group of articles from the same writer or do they get one article from one writer so they don't get tired of reading the same writing style?
Ed. 1: Sorry. I only skimmed this question.
Ed. 2: We read every article we receive. The next available editor takes the next author in the queue, and all of that author's work is displayed. We usually rate every article in the batch, but due to time constraints, we may only rate a few, leaving the rest for the next editor. Short articles are generally rated neutrally.
Q. Does the client's rating affect your score?
Ed. 1: No.
Ed. 2: No.
Q. Are ratings to instructions anonymous?
Ed. 1: Yes.
Ed. 2: Yes.
Q. If [a casual] style is desired by the client, will it lower our rating as an author?
Ed. 1: Articles must adhere to business-casual attire, or they are fired!
Ed. 2: We see the client's instructions when we rate the article, so this will not impact your rating. However, we are human; if we missed something in the client's instructions, please let us know.
Q. I get how Toast Broken relates to Textbroker but what do Underwater Bears relate to? They sound like cool creatures, but do they have professional writing skills and, if so, where do they snag their water-resistant laptops?
Ed. 1: Underwater Bears are related to editors through a wormhole in evolution. Don't ask us how a wormhole got into evolution, but we're fairly certain that Darwin would not approve.
Ed. 2: As for their qualifications, all Underwater Bears are board-certified. Contrary to popular belief, Underwater Bears are fully capable of living outside of the water for periods of time. When they surface, we slap some gloves on them and put them to work. No one likes a soggy laptop.
Q. Do they want the voice to be formal as in a Newsweek article? Or informal for a blog? Should it be slightly formal such as a salesperson talking to a potential client? Or should sound like a friend talking to another friend? Do they want 'spicy' language? Do they want it to be funny?
Ed. 1: Pronoun without antecedent!
Ed. 2: If you have questions about an order, please contact the client. We only know as much as you do.
Q. Can we protest [a revision request]? Does anyone protest? How does Textbroker resolve conflicts?
Ed. 1: We welcome peaceable assembly. I prefer to resolve conflicts via flamethrower, but BossCat confiscated my toy.
Ed. 2: When you receive a revision request, you can make the changes, cancel the order or re-submit as-is. If you do the latter, there is a good chance the article will be rejected. If your article is rejected, it will be reviewed by our editorial team.
Q. Is there a deadline for clients to respond to author questions?
Ed. 1: If you want to get paid, the assignment deadline is a good clock to go by.
Ed. 2: No. There is no timeline for client/author communications. The client isn't notified when an author picks up an order.
Q. If you can lower individual articles when grading, why, if an article deserves a level 5 (which is what the graders have written on mine) why isn't it given the 5? I understand averaging them, but if you are going to average a lower grade in, why wouldn't level 5 work be graded as such?
Ed. 1: I'm still stuck at the parentheses.
Ed. 2: Level 5 is a manual setting. Rating individual articles at 5 creates problems in our averaging system, so we rate articles at 4 or lower.
Q. Many writers are concerned, me included, about a stupid mistake being the reason for demotion back to level 4.
So, I'm suggesting a sort of compromise on this one. What if, as you grade the assignments, you continued to average the ratings? Because some writers have written hundreds of articles here and others only a handful, maybe you could average the work monthly?
Ed. 1: I see math. Hold me.
Ed. 2: Shh, just close your eyes. I've got this one. An author's rating is based on the average of the last five articles for a few reasons. It ensures that authors are constantly working toward maintaining or improving their ratings; it allows us to adjust rankings so that clients receive the quality levels they ordered. Everyone can have a bad day, but if the last few articles we see are sub-par, we will consider demotion. We usually warn the author first, but we reserve the right to demote immediately if necessary.
Q. So my question is: how long do I have to accept a DirectOrder before it expires? Do they ever expire?
Ed. 1: 372 hours; they smell like old milk after that.
Ed. 2: It behooves you to accept your orders as soon as you can. If you wait too long, the client may cancel the order. However, DirectOrders do not expire.
Q. I understand that things have been backed up, but is it really necessary to give clients three days? Which is actually four, given the slowness of auto-accept. We have a day to write most articles. Clients have other tasks to attend, I'm sure, but shouldn't it be more equal?
Ed. 1: Clients pay us.
Ed. 2: There are several reasons for this. Most clients do not work on weekends; clients also may have other clients who need to see the work prior to acceptance. Many of our clients place hundreds or thousands of orders at a time, and trying to approve all of those in three days is difficult enough. Finally, the fact that we place a time limit on acceptance at all is better than many freelancers get. Imagine if you had to go back and forth with a client for months.
Q. Proofreading test: Will you consider changing your policy so that the test taker knows what mistakes they made?
Ed. 1: No.
Ed. 2: The questions are pulled at random from a larger pool. We have no way of tracking which questions you answered, but the questions largely cover the same issues. If you failed the test, focus on spelling, subject/verb agreement and punctuation. Most of the errors fall into these categories.
Q. I have been at level 3 consistently for some time now what can I do to improve my articles to make it to level 4?
Ed. 1: We wanted to install Skee-Ball for author ratings. Then your rating would depend on the skill of the editor, and I've got to say, those years of softball would have really boosted some rankings. BossCat was all for the idea, but the other cats refused unless prizes were awarded. Now we have to use the AP Stylebook. =(
Ed. 2: Please use our feedback for specific instances on how to increase your rating. Otherwise, BossCat has a helpful post here: https://www.textbroker.com/blog/content/15-tips.html
Q. What are the Editors' opinions (or opinion if there is a consensus) of singular "they"?
Ed. 1: Utter chaos.
Ed. 2: We tolerate its usage. Most of the time, you can find another way to write your sentence so that this is never an issue. If you do use it, make sure you have not already defined the subject's gender. If you're talking about Danny DeVito, you would use masculine pronouns.
Thanks for all the questions!