05 June 2006

The online spat

As promised...

An online business forum I belong to was the scene of a spat I deliberately started about 10 days ago. Now, I don't usually go round picking fights on the net but in this case, it was a matter of defending the honour of my trade.

Someone started a thread which said (and I quote):
We are a group of creative writers with ample experience in the domains of Finance, Health, Culture, Telecommunications (Mobile), Broadband, VoIP and many more. If you are looking for professionally crafted key word rich Articles, Press Releases, Blogs, Forum postings & Web Content, trust us to provide you with the finest solutions that are delivered on time and are genuinely original.
Our rates are also very low: $3-$4 for a 300 word article."

It was quite clear from this post that the author was incapable of stringing a sentence together correctly so I pointed this out. I was also rather angry about the outrageously low rates being quoted - us professional wordsmiths charge upwards of £30 an hour for our skills. It takes probably an hour to write 300 words of good quality copy. Would I want to earn $3-4 dollars an hour for my hard work when the minimum wage in the UK is about £5.20? No way. I really hate seeing the market undercut by what are obviously cowboys.

Someone else posted saying they suspected the "writers" were based in India. A lot of editorial work gets farmed out there these days. The original poster (OP) responded that they were based in the UK and had a go at me for criticising his English. He (or possibly she) was fool enough to post 300 words sample copy of an "article" they had written on colonic irrigation.

Never one to ignore a challenge, I read it through and decided to edit it and post it back into the thread. In just a 5-minute skim-and-edit, I spotted at least 24 errors. None of these were spelling mistakes so I guess they had the nous to use the spell-checker. The errors I found were grammatical and punctuation errors. And very, very bad ones.

Needless to say, the OP never returned to defend their atrocious command of the language, but I was taken to task by someone else for sticking the knife in. This person said the OP was only offering to provide content and not to edit or proofread.


So I pointed out through gritted teeth that any business that thought spending $3 or $4 was a worthwhile investment was going to damage their company by being associated with such poorly crafted text. Thankfully, others thought the same and backed me up on this, even though they run businesses in fields that are unrelated to wordsmithery.

When I got home from Paris, I was disappointed to see the thread had died a death in my absence. Naturally, I couldn't resist resuming the debate.

I still feel enraged about it - undercutting the market to the point where prices are slashed so low that making a profit is totally impossible, not even creating a quality product as claimed, ripping off businesses by selling them what is basically shit copy. Grah!

{runs out to kick walls, rip heads off shoulders and destroy small villages}

Phew! That's better, I needed a good rant.

Oh yes... the message is basically that if you want to look professional, hire one.

Normal service will be resumed shortly.

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