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by Leonard Telford
"The trick is to complete tasks slowly and carefully, making sure to cross-reference everything with the style guide for the first few tasks."
Like many people, I was caught up in the various layoffs and so on that have happened throughout the recession. However, I took this opportunity to start a new career—something that would be more satisfying than a simple job with a major retailer.
I applied for the Editor Credential at CloudCrowd on Sept. 14, 2010. I was eventually accepted. At the time, there was a small group of people who were active on the Worker Support Forum, and it is those people whom I thank for teaching me more than I could ever want to know about the minutiae of language.
The forum is a very valuable resource. Although it isn’t perfect, if you need to know something, ask. It’s better to be sure of something than to muddle through, unsure of what you’re doing. It’s great when you need to know why something is as it is. People on the forums are generally helpful, and the admins maintain an active presence.
In the beginning, there was no Style Guide, so I ended up buying copies of APA, MLA, and Chicago. Chicago in particular is a weighty tome. Now, however, we have the Style Guide, something that borrows quite heavily from the Chicago Manual of Style.
If you already know Chicago style, you’ll know that this is a fairly comprehensive volume. The CC Style Guide isn’t quite as in-depth as Chicago, and, as you may be aware, we use a different dictionary. Nevertheless, the Style Guide contains most of what you need to know. The second part of what you need to know is in the dictionary. If something looks odd, look it up.
If you’re not so familiar with the various styles, don’t worry. Unless the work is very short, reviewers will generally fix up work provided nothing major was missed. The trick is to complete tasks slowly and carefully, making sure to cross reference everything with the style guide for the first few tasks. Once you have done your first task, wait for it to be reviewed. The likelihood is that an experienced editor will look at the task and assess it.
If it is really not up to standard, you’ll get a rejection. The important thing is to check what you were rejected for. Check with the style guide and dictionary to ensure you understand where you went wrong. If you’re still not sure, be sure to ask in the forum.
If your work was fixed up, you’ll see the grade of fixed up in your work history. This tells you an editor made changes. You can review those changes by looking in your history, clicking on the document, scrolling to the bottom and clicking on “Review 1.” This will bring up the task the reviewer submitted. Click on “Download Reviewer-Corrected Document” to download the Word file and see what has been changed.
Doing work in short bursts allows you to check how you’re doing and allows you to keep your all-important credibility intact. It also prevents you from doing too many tasks incorrectly if you’ve missed a major part of the instructions.
Once you’ve been here a while, you’ll learn to approach new tasks with caution. Each one has its own rules, and sometimes these might deviate from the style guide. Again, doing each one in short bursts allows you to check if something is incorrect, adjust, and make sure you do the next one correctly.
Again, the forums are an excellent resource for confirming or asking about instructions. If you want to check on something that only admin can answer, you’ll need to ask between 10 a.m. and 5 p.m. Californian time, Monday to Friday.
We’re striving for a higher level of quality for our clients and a better experience for all of our workers. In this spirit, we’re rolling out a ton of improvements and changes to our worker resources and content policies that will take effect at 12 a.m. PDT on Oct. 3, 2012.
New Style Guide
First, our overhauled, comprehensive, and organized Style Guide will be the new gold standard for quality on our platform. It’s ready for your perusal, so take a look and give us your feedback on the Worker Support Forum.
Unlike the old version, this manual provides workers with detailed sections based on common style issues and problems, a Web Writing Best Practices guide, a table of contents for easy reference, and a set of appendixes for further information on specialized topics. It will take the place of the General Writing Style Guide and Editing Style Guide. We'll continue to build on this new guide and provide workers with everything they need to know to successfully write on our platform.
Additional Specialized Resources
To help Editors and Writers alike understand how to improve copy beyond the more typical methods, we’ve launched an Editor Essentials page. Here, Editors will find tips and standards against which they can compare content, and Writers will get guidance on how to improve their work. For now, the main topics covered here are Clarity, Flow, and Fluff, but we’ll continue to develop this page to achieve a comprehensive resource for all things Editing.
In addition, a redone Marketing Resource Center (formerly known as the Marketing Content Resource Center) will make its debut. This will serve much the same function as the Editor Essentials page, but it's specifically for Marketing Writers. We’ll post resources, tips, and tutorials on this page designed with commercial writing in mind.
Comprehensive Credential Tests
We've developed brand new Marketing, General Writer, and English Editor Credential Tests that not only test an applicant's ability to follow a strict set of instructions, but his or her creativity and raw writing ability. Editor applicants will be given real samples of CloudCrowd work so we can see how well they'll do on our platform.
CloudCrowd staff will be handling all credential applications from Oct. 3 through Oct. 9 to ease the transition to the new standards for typical reviewers.
Along with the new style guide and specialized resources for Editors and Marketing Writers, we've selected a new preferred dictionary. We've dropped Dictionary.com and adopted TheFreeDictionary.com. In our opinion, TheFreeDictionary.com offers workers a more complete set of tools than the former option, including a guide to idioms, dictionaries in many different languages, a legal, medical, and financial dictionary, and helpful toolbars and widgets.
Refined In-Task Instructions
We've refined our in-task instructions. There's a lot less copy to cut through, and the process of completing a task from top to bottom should be much simpler. You’ll also notice on Oct. 3 that Writers and Editors have exclusive instruction sets. Content Reviewers and Edit Reviewers will have their own checklists too. This is to help each group specialize their treatment of content, but also to help end the ongoing confusion about which responsibilities belong to Content Reviewers and which belong to Editors. This, of course, will be an ongoing process, but we believe this will go a long way toward settling the dispute once and for all.
Greater Clarity About Audits and Standards
To ensure that our Writers and Editors are performing to the level we need and to select new candidates for promotion to Level 2 and higher pay, we’ll continue to conduct Audits on their work. We’ve created an Audit FAQs page so everyone can learn how an Audit is triggered, what it means, and what can happen after one has been performed. You’ll notice that auditors compare work against Level 1 Standards during their evaluations. This is a new concept at CloudCrowd.
Level 1 Standards are represented by a short guide to which both Writers and Editors can refer to ensure their work is at an acceptable level. By meeting the expectations listed on that page, workers can significantly increase the likelihood that they will be selected for a Level 2 promotion.
New Credential Progression
We've also decided to require that newcomers to CloudCrowd obtain their General Writer Credential before they seek the Marketing Credential. The reasoning behind this is twofold: Workers will have a better idea of how our platform works after they have obtained the first credential, and will be more fit to engage in the typically more involved Marketing projects. By demonstrating that they have the ability to successfully pass the basic General Writing Credential test, they are in a better position to master the more specialized Marketing skillset.
Heightened Credibility Requirement for Content, Edit Review
Last but not least, we've increased the minimum Credibility score to perform Content Review and Edit Review tasks to 80. This is to encourage workers to complete writing and first-line editing tasks in addition to review tasks. Workers who do both kinds of tasks typically have greater insight into how our projects work and what needs to be done to make the work top notch.
Please note that starting at 12 a.m. PDT on Oct. 3, all applicable tasks, from product descriptions to health articles, credential tests to Peer Audits, are subject to the rules in the new Style Guide, spellings in TheFreeDictionary.com, and other requirements detailed in the resources described above.
Send any feedback you have to email@example.com or post on our Worker Support Forum, and thanks as always for your hard work.
Many of you are no doubt aware of the new Content Review checklists popping up across projects, but we wanted to formally introduce the feature.
These simple lists of action items designed for Content Reviewers will be part of each new project and have been added to many existing projects. For now, you can find a link to a checklist in a task’s Special Instructions, but soon the link will be included in the Custom Requirements section of each task.
We believe that these checklists will help clarify the division of responsibilities between the Content Review and Edit stages and keep Content Reviewers focused on their very specific task: to ensure that writers followed the task’s Custom Requirements and Special Instructions.
The division between the Content Review and Edit stages will soon be further clarified by a similar checklist for Edit Reviewers and a complete separation of Edit instructions from Writer instructions. Check this blog for a post about that improvement coming soon.
Thanks for the positive and constructive feedback. Hang tight while we continue to improve our platform.
Getting feedback to writers and editors about their work is important to us. We not only want to grow our workforce, but give each individual worker opportunities to improve their skills and advance from Level 1 to Level 2, and so on.
In this spirit, we’ve increased the standard number of allowed Self-Corrections per task from one to two. This means that if your work is rejected, you’ll be allowed to fix any errors in the document twice. You will only be charged a correction-processing fee once, however. We may increase the allowed number of Self-Corrections beyond this current cap depending on the complexity or minimum word-count requirement of a specific project.
Hopefully, more Self-Corrections will allow workers to better understand where and how they’re making mistakes and develop strategies for avoiding them in the future.
You should head to our Self-Corrections and Reviewer Corrections Resource for detailed instructions on how to perform a Self-Correction.Thanks for your hard work and constructive feedback. Check this blog as we announce new improvements to our platform.
As part of our continuing effort to improve worker experience at CloudCrowd, we’ve increased the number of appeals you can file in a 30-day period. This bump from 8 appeals per month to 16 comes with a doubling of the number of active appeals you can have at one time, too.
Reviewing appeals is a great way for CloudCrowd staff to hear your feedback and identify areas in which we may need to clarify or improve instructions and guidelines. We also want to know when you feel your work has been wrongfully rejected or when there’s been a technical failure or miscommunication during the editorial process so we can instruct individual workers.
Giving you more opportunities to appeal decisions gives us more opportunities to make improvements, and that’s a good thing.
For those who are new to CloudCrowd, head to our FAQ page for about how and why you should file an appeal.
As always, thanks for your hard work. Stay tuned for more posts about improvements we’re making to worker experience at CloudCrowd.
We have big news at CloudCrowd: the Level 2 Credential Initiative officially kicks off this week. Writers and editors who have a history of quality work will have a chance to receive nearly double pay and to participate in special projects that pay even more. The initiative is part of our efforts to show those of you who go the extra mile when completing tasks that we appreciate your attention to detail and that there are chances to advance here at CloudCrowd.
With Level 2 Credentials come higher expectations. Next-level editors will need to improve content beyond standard grammatical, spelling and syntax fixes. Their specialty will be optimizing sentence structure, flow, word choice, and excising fluff completely, among other things. Level 2 writers will need to submit work that demonstrates excellent understanding of rhetorical structure, descriptive language, voice, tone, close attention to detail, and more. The line between Level 1 and Level 2 requirements will be more fully fleshed out in the coming week.
We also ask that Level 2 workers participate on our Worker Support Forum. They’ve shown the ability to be leaders at CloudCrowd, and we need their help in improving our products, instructions, guides, and the sense of community here.
The first Level 2 projects will also start this week. We need next-level marketing writers and editors to produce stellar topic introductions and guides (at nearly double pay) and to complete specially priced audits of Level 2 candidates’ recent work. Soon you will be able to apply for Level 2 status, but for now, we'll be basing promotions solely on audits of your recent work history.
We hope to hear from you.
As part of our commitment to enhancing worker experience at CloudCrowd, we’ve made our Facebook application compatible with the social network’s new secured browsing settings.
We heard workers’ concerns in our Worker Support Forum about how difficult it was to sign up and use CloudCrowd while Facebook migrated its users onto a more secure platform. Now, thanks to the fix, you can keep making money on CloudCrowd even if you have secured browsing enabled in your Facebook settings.
We hope this adjustment makes your CloudCrowd experience easier and more enjoyable. Stay tuned for more.
Over the past two months, CloudCrowd has improved its plagiarism checker. We realized that too much work was being marked as plagiarism and rejected even though it was original and heard from writers in the Worker Support Forum about how tough this was to deal with.
In order to make writers’ lives easier, we worked with the company that operates its plagiarism checker to change the software’s sensitivity and ensure less mistakes. Modifications have been made across the board so content that isn’t plagiarized won’t be falsely rejected.
Despite this advancement, however, the system still isn’t perfect. That’s why we will continue to allow writers the option of appealing a rejection due to plagiarism that they know to be false.
Thanks for your patience as we continue to modify our plagiarism checker and make it easier for writers to provide our clients with original, quality content.
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