Thursday, May 13, 2010

Professional writing as on-the-job training

The company for which I do online article editing recently introduced an "instant reject" feature for articles that meet certain reject criteria. "Instant reject" is not exactly instant, as the copy editors must first obtain an OK from our team lead.

I recently sent my lead a request to approve an instant reject (based on lack of basic composition skills) of an article containing the following:

"Microsoft first introduced the breakthrough XENIX-based messaging system but in 1993 a few transfer to the early versions of Exchange Servers has slowly started. By January 1995 over 500 users ran the foremost, Exchange Server Beta 1. As it has proven to be a better alternative and provided with its precise acumen, some 30,000 users has migrated to it at the end of 1996. . . . Spam and viruses are usually tied up on messages that are abundant in the internet, just the thought of a having these in your system is inadmissible. . . . Finding and fixing problems are quickly responded, . . . It gives off easy administration at no higher cost which in return, makes a good performance for everyone in the company."

My team lead denied my request. She said the article is "not incomprehensible" and that I should return the article to the writer with a rewrite request that points out some errors and makes specific suggestions.

In my opinion, "not incomprehensible" is not a standard we should even consider, and it should be trumped by the criterion "content demonstrates lack of basic composition skills."

The terms "race to the bottom" and "lowest common denominator" come to mind.

I signed on to be a copy editor, not a writing instructor.