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Behind the Emerald Curtain: Ratings

Do you remember what happened when Dorothy pulled down the curtain in the Emerald City? It was revealed that the Great and Powerful Wizard of Oz was not a massive, larger-than-life figure, but a regular person wielding an unusual amount of power.

Do you remember what happened when Dorothy pulled down the curtain in the Emerald City? It was revealed that the Great and Powerful Wizard of Oz was not a massive, larger-than-life figure, but a regular person wielding an unusual amount of power.

Many of you may have the idea that your editors are like the Great and Powerful Wizard: puffed up on power and infallible.

We aren’t. We are human beings. We are the little (wo)man behind the curtain, doing our best to maintain order and consistency in what is by nature a rather subjective field. We do not have delusions of grandeur and can admit when we've made a mistake.

Since we’ve had a strong push from the readers of our blog on this topic, it’s time to take away the curtain and give you a better look at the whole ratings process. 

Textbroker has more than 23,000 authors registered, who, at any given moment, are working on about 500 articles. There are 5 editors on staff, including myself, who rate nearly 1000 articles a day. With this time pressure, we can't give full explanations and highlight every single error in your work. Our comments provide a general overview of your most common errors. We may have commented on an item, but not taken any points off for it.

The general guidelines for your rating are in our FAQ. If you haven’t read the FAQ, please do so. It answers questions on many topics.

We are editors, not grammar teachers. If we say there are comma errors, we expect you to educate yourself on when and how to use a comma appropriately. Check out Purdue’s Online Writing Lab. If we say things are awkward, we hope that you will review your work and brush up on sentence structure. It brings smiles to our faces, joy to our hearts and higher ratings to your submissions when we see our advice being applied. 

We rate the oldest orders and work our way forward. Please remember that we evaluate after the client does, so we usually get your articles 3 days after you submit. When we select an order to evaluate, we pull up all submissions from that author, which is why you receive notifications in batches. 

We see your previous ratings; any notes we have about you, including 5-star status requests and detailed feedback requests; your articles; a timeline of each article, including any revision requests; instructions and the client’s rating when we open an order. We do not see messages between you and the client. We do take the client’s review into consideration, but do not base our rating on it for a multitude of reasons. Some clients are not native English speakers, others rate solely on your usage of keywords and many don’t have the time to accurately rate you since they are processing many articles at a time.

The first thing I look for is spelling and capitalization. Misspellings and typos are easy to fix but make your work look bad to the client. Spell-checkers are available in your favorite word processing program and in the Google toolbar. Spelling mistakes include typos and homonym errors like their/they’re/there and your/you’re. Know the capitalization of common modern items like iPod, eBay and PayPal. Use a dictionary if you’re unsure which version is correct. Bad spelling shows a general negligence for language and lowers your ratings.

Good grammar is essential to good writing. We will have a series of posts on good grammar and why it is important; suffice it to say right now that bad grammar impedes the understanding and flow of your message. 

To top things off, we look at style, tone and structure. We will have more posts on style, tone and structure as well. For more advanced writers, we use AP style as our standard in the office.

We have no malicious reason to keep authors at a lower rate. The more you earn, the more we earn. However, if we cannot understand the message you're trying to convey, neither the client nor your readers can either. 

Clients who choose to pay more for a high-quality article expect an article without comma splices, typos, erroneous grammar and inappropriate word choices. In order to deliver on that expectation, we are serious about proper grammar and spelling. Your rating is not based on whims or our mood that day, but solely your effort and mastery of the English language. 

Neal’s secret decoder ring does help, as it contains the entire wisdom of the universe if you read it backwards under a full moon. Just don't let him sell you on the tin foil hats.

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568145 3. October 2015 - 18:43

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