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.
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.”
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.