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My Clients
I write for several online clients –– Demand Media Studios, Bright Hub and Constant Content. I also have several private sites (WordPress, HubPages and Triond).

My primary client is DMS. I have been writing for them for just over three years and have built up a hefty writing portfolio, to include LiveStrong, eHow, eHow Personal Finance, Local.com, Answerbag and WhiteFence. I have never edited for DMS, although I am considered a backup editor.  I am also a community moderator, which is a volunteer position.

New Developments
Las Friday (June 24), DMS announced a “CE Feedback tool” that writers can choose (or not choose) to use to provide feedback to the editorial staff members on several points. Since Friday, the forums have been active with threads about CEs, the drawbacks of the feedback tool and discussions of threads a few CEs have participated in, speaking in negative tones about the writers they edit. I suspected, but was not sure, this was happening. Now that it has been confirmed on a non-DMS forum, writers (and CEs) are arguing and saying, in effect, “he said, she said.”

Reactions
To put this new development into greater perspective, DMS put into effect a writer’s “Quality Improvement Tool,” or “QuIT” for short. I can’t go into detail about this, but writers are being referred to editorial for additional attention and assistance.

The two tools are as different as sugar is from salt. Yes, the programs come from DMS and they focus on both groups. That’s where the similarity ends. Just like salt is salty and sugar is sweet, one tool focuses on writers who are struggling with various aspects of DMS’ writing guidelines; the CE feedback tool is intended for –– feedback.

Much of the arguments center on the beliefs of some CEs: writers should not evaluate writers on some issues. Other arguments focus on the different sets of skills required for writing and editing. To be fair, DMS has CEs who also write for the company. These CEs have seen and experienced both sides of the fence. good and bad. Some CEs are concerned that some writers are going to use the feedback tool in a vindictive “I’m gonna get back at you” way. No doubt, some will. Hopefully, the PTB (powers that be) have policies and procedures in place to either prevent or deal with abusive use of the new tool.

Because writers and CEs are limited by DMS policy in their ability and mode of communication regarding articles, writers feel constrained. CEs are hidden behind a veil of anonymity  –– for good reason. Some writers who received in-depth rewrites in the past have threatened the CEs who edited their articles. DMS responded by making each CE anonymous to the writers. (The only writers who know who has edited their work are the LiveStrong writers –– and they only find out when the article is published. If the article is rejected, writers don’t know who edited their work.)

Writers have been clamoring for a way of communicating, preferably with CEs, regarding their work (why they chose the point of view they used, why they used the references they used). The writers do have a comment box where they can, and should, communicate with the CEs. Some use it and others don’t. That box comes up on the final preview page, making it difficult for some to remember points they want to make to the CEs.

The community moderators have been busy this weekend, monitoring and commenting in the threads about the new feedback tool and the CEs. The next few weeks are going to be an eye-opening time –– if we are allowed to keep and use this tool.

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Comments on: "The Gulf Between Writers and Editors" (4)

  1. I like the idea of the tool because I will be able to express thanks for help the CE gives to me. This whole ‘explosion’ this weekend leaves me at a loss. I feel badly that there will be negative aspects to the tool. It’s too bad.

    • GVanWyden said:

      Susan, just use the new tool judiciously and try to set a good example. That’s my only suggestion because it’s gonna get ugly.

  2. Bobbie, I liked your post, but I’m amazed at how calm and even-handed you can manage to sound. I’ve always tried to see both sides in CE/writer disputes, as have you. I’m never one to paint any group of people with a broad brush. But the events of the past couple of days are indefensible. I have no idea how we’re going to be able to get in the forums and try to calm these issues down by pointing out that, no, the CE isn’t out to get you and doesn’t really think you’re an idiot. Well, in some cases it turns out they were, and the more volatile among us is sure to bring it up over and over again.

    Certain people have done all CEs a major disservice this week. You wonder how prejudice starts? It’s with ugly acts like this. No one had any concrete reason to dislike and fear CEs until now. Now many writers are going to be suspicious about who is editing their articles. Is it one of “them?” No, every CE doesn’t hold those same thoughts and values, but how is anyone to know whether or not their particular CE does? As long as CEs remain anonymous writers have no way of knowing, and can’t possibly have any reason to hope for the best at this point.

    I’m not looking forward to the fireworks I predict are coming.

    • GVanWyden said:

      Anne, I’m afraid, too. I really downplayed one of my comments in one of the threads: “gonna be an interesting few weeks coming up.”
      You might want to put your armadillo armor on — cause we’re all gonna need it. I’ve been reading DSS threads where I’m seeing my DSS “nickname” come up more frequently than I have ever seen happen before. Apparently, I’m to blame for everything.

      Let’s put it this way: some writers and some CEs have brought this upon themselves. PatM, Mere and some of the writers who are always accusing the CEs.

      DMS hasn’t been totally blameless either, but as fast as they’re growing, I can’t blame them. The feedback tool has been needed for a long time, mainly for CEs who aren’t up to date with guidelines.

      I’ve always tried to advocate for understanding and working with the CEs rather than setting up an “us versus them” atmosphere. That is really going to be hard to do now. Some writers have played fast and loose with facts, trying to make a hard-working CE look bad. In response, CEs have gotten angry and cynical. And who’s caught in the middle? The honest writers, CEs and mods. Oy. We’re going to be really making use of the CM group forum.

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