Thank you to those of you who have stuck with us throughout this transition! The last six weeks have been a giant learning experience for all of us as we’ve discovered exactly what’s working and what is not. We’ve gone over a few bumps along the way, and greatly appreciate your patience and understanding as we undergo such huge changes.
We don’t like problems and frustrations any more than you do, and we are working hard to properly address these issues and smooth out the whole writing and editing process. This is an update on what we’re doing to shorten review times and otherwise make WritersDomain better.
Improving Review Times
Here are a few things we are doing to help improve review times without sacrificing quality:
- Internally Hiring: We interview candidates each week for our editing team. It’s important that these candidates are qualified for the position and we will not compromise by hiring talent that is underqualified for the position.
- Improving the Review Process: Our editors are learning to review more quickly as they acclimate themselves to the new quality standards. We will discuss these changes more in-depth below.
- Qualifying and rating writers: Our metrics make it easy for us to easily see where the strengths and weaknesses of each writer lie, and reward those strengths accordingly, by promoting stronger writers to Premium articles.
- Identifying underqualified writers: Writers who produce multiple articles that require numerous revision requests or are rejected by editors are being prevented from continuing to write articles.
- Helping you get better by leaving at least a sentence of feedback on each article. The better you write, the less time we have to spend reviewing your articles. We want our feedback to reinforce your direction.
The goal of providing helpful feedback that began back in February was intended to help writers better understand web writing and the new standards. We’ve seen positive results from that. However, we’ve also received critiques and recognize that there are weaknesses in the new review system. For instance, editors don’t all speak with the same voice, so feedback can be confusing and seem contradictory. In order to be comprehensive, some reviews are just as long (or longer) than the articles themselves. And because the review was holistic, different editors were focusing on different parts of the rubric to highlight.
In addition, we walk a thin line in giving increased feedback. Not every writer is improving and articles that are sent back to writers decrease our productivity by 3-4 times.
Improving the Review Process
In order to address these issues, we have been working hard to better define and clarify our standards and the rubric. We’ve also been working to refine the editing process so it is more efficient, standardized, and focused.
As a result, you will see a few changes to the review process:
Less holistic, more linear reviews.
Up to this point, our standard of reviewing has been to critique the majority of issues that we see with an article and call out what the article does well. Our editors have used the reviewing space to compliment, troubleshoot, brainstorm, and more. While this approach has had benefits, it has also greatly increased the time spent on each review and created confusion from review to review.
From now on, our reviews will more closely mimic the way a reader actually reads online and focus on the most important aspects of web writing at area most relevant to the given piece. For instance, if the title is too broad and general, or the introduction is cloudy, the editors will send the article back and not review the rest of the article. If you don’t grab your reader with the title, an online reader will never make it to the rest of the article, and neither will our editors.
As another example, we will not review the level of engagement in the article if the facts are incorrect, if there is too much filler/fluff, or if the sentences are too difficult to read. If the article has a fundamental issue, we will not continue to edit or review the other pieces of that article which are built on that foundation. Proofreading and self-editing are essential at this level of writing.
In reviewing the past comments left by the editors, we have found that many articles contain very similar errors and issues. The most frequent comments address proofreading, repetition, misleading titles and introductions, bland or surface-level content, etc. To reduce the time it takes to write comments and regulate the language they use, we have developed some standard comments that address these issues. The comments and the associated examples are still uniquely pertinent to your article, but by using a framework, we will save time for the editors and reduce confusion for you.
Note that the writing process is exactly the same and the values and the rubric are not changing. The editors are simply better following a more clearly-defined process so you will see shorter, more unified comments in reviews.
This process does put more responsibility on the writers since the editors no longer comment on everything. Second editors will bring up issues that the first editors did not address. The best way to avoid this is to follow the rubric and write well the first time. Many issues can be avoided through a combination of proofreading, choosing an appropriate idea the first time, and taking time to do real research.
We know that some writers are frustrated with the lack of clarity between each star rating on the rubric. We are currently working on materials that will help better define the rubric and delineate the differences between each star rating. These materials should better highlight what web writing really is, and will help the review process make more sense.
Lastly, a few writers are concerned about their ratings. Remember that three stars is “meets expectations.” Aka, three-star articles meet all the standards necessary for publication and are good, not poor! If your article is accepted with three stars, don’t fret—you didn’t do anything wrong by the standards of the rubric. On the contrary, you did everything right for your article to be accepted.
Four- and five-star articles “exceed expectations” and are great, not good. Perfection is not required in order for a standard article to be accepted. But perfection is almost required for an article to achieve a five-star rating.
Once again, we thank you for your patience as we work out all of these bugs. We are on a great path and the new products are working very well for our clients!
As always, please let us know if you have any questions. These include questions with review discrepancies, unclear comments, frustrations with understanding web writing, or what the weather is like outside our window!