What You Will

Another Burma Shave billboard on the information superhighway. Random thoughts about arts, faith, culture, music, language, literature, and the shortcomings of the Hegelian dialectic. (OK, just kidding about that last bit.)

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Location: Edmonds, Washington, United States

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5/03/2005

Sarcastic White Male ISO Answers

So I was looking for some freelance editing work to do in my spare time, and I ran across a listing for a Christian dating site that needed Web editors.

I will admit that a red flag immediately went up in my brain. Who needs a "Christian dating site"? eHarmony.com already does a good job of marketing itself to Christians and of making faith issues part of its questionnaires and profiles. And it does this without slapping the word "Christian" on itself like an "Inspected by No. 286" label.

But I was overcome by a combination of greed, morbid curiosity, and the desire to give other believers the benefit of the doubt. So I sent in my résumé.

In response I got an editing test—a page of text from the site that I was expected to improve and send back. It was, frankly, some of the most miserable copy I've seen on a Web site—rife with grammatical errors, a misspelling or two, sentence fragments, and clichés. The language was choppy and redundant; paragraph transitions were missing. Overall the page created the unreassuring impression of a bunch of people who had absolutely no idea what they were doing.

And this was the site's mission statement.

So I did what one of my former bosses would call a "five-dog edit": I tore the thing to absolute shreds, moved sentences around, reconstructed some paragraphs, completely rewrote others, and added stuff I thought was missing. I kept half an eye on the clock, and all this took about 90 minutes.

I also went to the site and reviewed some of the other text. Same problems. I did a WHOIS search and found that the domain was registered to an investment group. Well, investors have money, and I like working for people with money. And at least someone working on this site recognized the need for an editor. I figured I could do the work as long as I was well compensated—meaning that I could charge my standard $35 hourly freelance rate, or something close to it.

So I sent in the completed editing test. A few days later I received a congratulatory e-mail. I received two of them, actually—one for me and one for another editor they'd decided to hire, sent to me by mistake. More red flags went up. Multiple editors means you need a style guide so each editor can work to the same standard. But I decided to hold my reservations in check until I saw the contract, which came a couple of days later.

Wanna guess how much they were offering? $80 for the site and $5 a page for any additional pages they might send me later. I'd spent 90 minutes on one page, which is $52.50 at my standard rate. Now I was being asked to accept about a tenth of that—less than minimum wage. So I e-mailed back, politely observing that editing is a highly skilled trade, stating my terms, and suggesting that I would be glad to look at a more reasonable contract.

No dice, replied the nice gentleman I'd been corresponding with. What he had written, he had written. Those were the terms he was authorized to offer. Oh, and the site was "partially sponsored by a church."

I suppose I might bleed for a cause I believe in, but "Christian dating site" doesn't qualify. Even if it's partially sponsored by a church. I'll bet the church in question doesn't expect someone to come in and vacuum the carpet for $3.33 an hour. Or I suppose I could have allocated a couple of hours for the whole site and just given it the quickest, most cursory once-over edit imaginable. But that's not how I work.

Thus ended my online courtship with the Christian dating site. I'm left with my self-respect intact for a change, and with a question. You see, no non-Christian has ever offered me such pitiful wages to improve such dreadful copy. I just want to know why having the name "Christian" on an enterprise is offered as an excuse for trying to rip people off.

3 Comments:

Blogger 'Thought & Humor' said...

You have a riveting web log and undoubtedly
must have atypical & quiescent potential for
your intended readership. May I suggest that
you do everything in your power to honor
your Designer/Architect as well as your audience.
Please remember to never restrict anyone's
opportunities for ascertaining uninterrupted
existence for their quintessence.

Best wishes for continued ascendancy,
Howdy
Editor

'Thought & Humor'
Cyber-Humor & Cyber-Thought
http://ilovehowdy.blogspot.com/
Harvard Humor Club
http://groups.yahoo.com/group/Harvard_Humor_Club/

5:39 PM  
Blogger Suebob said...

Ah yes, it is always so shocking to see what some people think they can get away with paying you, isn't it?

About 6 years ago, with 14 years of experience in the printing biz, I replied to an ad for a shop manager. During the interview, they explained that I would oversee the pressmen, purchase paper and supplies, make sure production was happening, oh yes, and answer the phones and take orders as well as a little graphic design on the side.

I had the skills. They wanted to pay me $5 per hour.

It took every moment of my repressive WASPy upbringing to keep from shouting "For THIS I put on nylons????"

5:49 PM  
Blogger Martin said...

To Thought & Humor: Huh?

To Suebob: Yes, but was it a "Christian print shop"?

1:48 AM  

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