It could be useful if someone ran a copyediting service

post by Julia_Wise · 2022-04-29T16:07:13.453Z · EA · GW · 9 comments

Here are some services EAs might use more if they had easier access:
- copyediting (in-depth editing of a piece to making it clearer, etc)
- proofreading (more nitty-gritty spelling and grammar checking)
- formatting into a specific format (markdown, etc)

Larger organizations usually hire or contract with at least one copyeditor and to help make their written work clearer and more consistent. But a lot of people might want occasional copyediting and not find it worthwhile to go through the hassle of finding someone to do it. Particularly if they want someone with enough knowledge of EA that they can help improve and clarify EA-specific material.

A colleague writes, "I've had ~10 people ask me in the last year about finding copyeditor services, and have recommended them to many more people. Would be great to have a bank of available people who authors could hire."

I would be excited if someone started a project coordinating this! Similar to what Pineapple Operations is doing with personal and executive assistants. 


Comments sorted by top scores.

comment by Habryka · 2022-04-29T21:54:00.371Z · EA(p) · GW(p)

As a reminder in case people were unaware, we provide free editing services on LessWrong for anyone above 100 karma on the site: [LW · GW

Just click the "Request Feedback" button when you are writing a new post, and a chat window will pop up asking you what kind of feedback you want, and within 24 hours someone will have left comments and suggestions on your post.

Replies from: akrolsmir
comment by Austin (akrolsmir) · 2022-04-30T14:25:59.636Z · EA(p) · GW(p)

FWIW: highly, highly recommend LessWrong's editing services! Justis Millis in particular gave excellent feedback, across the gamut of low-level formatting to high-level content ideas, in a stunningly short amount of time (<48h, iirc).

Replies from: Justis
comment by Justis · 2022-05-01T03:27:57.421Z · EA(p) · GW(p)

Thanks! Yeah, I think right now I do ~all the feedback requests, and my goal tends to be 24h turnaround time or less (though it does sometimes get closer to 48h).

comment by Justis · 2022-05-01T03:35:54.176Z · EA(p) · GW(p)

I've found the LessWrong editing service to be a pretty exciting way to provide copyediting, proofreading, feedback etc. to lots and lots of individuals over the last several months. Perhaps an expansion of that model could be valuable? This month there were 32 posts I did copyediting for through the service, which is more than usual but not by too much. That's way more than I would have even actively trying to promote myself, and I haven't had to do the promoting (or handle billing with a whole bunch of individuals). If there's more money for centralized-funding-of-edits, I at least continue to have excess capacity there and find it a lot of fun!

comment by MichaelA · 2022-04-30T19:28:40.402Z · EA(p) · GW(p)

Thanks for this post!

Here's a related thing I wrote recently, with a slightly different framing and some additional details, in case this is useful to someone. Though Habryka's comment makes me think perhaps LessWrong already have this mostly covered, so I guess a first step would be to check that out.

"Mesa-project* idea: Centralised & scalable proofreading, copyediting, and formatting assistance for EA-aligned people

Maybe someone should find decent/good copyeditors/proofreaders/formatters and advertise their services to EA community members who are willing & able to pay, either for their Forum posts or for other things they're working on? (By "formatters", I personally just have in mind people who can take a Google Doc with lots of tables and footnotes and format it for the EA Forum, but maybe there'd be other use cases as well, such as LaTeX.) 

Ofc people can also sort this out themselves, but then there's the search and vetting and set-up costs. Seems more efficient for some actor to set it up in a centralised/scalable way. E.g., Rethink Priorities has a person to do this for our work, and that seems much better than us each finding a person ourselves. I'd like various other orgs and individuals to also have this.

Potential benefits: 

  • Save authors a small/moderate amount of time
  • Save other community members a small/moderate amount of time helping with copyediting, proofreading, etc.
  • Somewhat/notably improve the clarity of posts
  • Somewhat/notably increase how many things are posted, if there are some people feeling blocked by time constraints or by worries about clarity or whatever

(But maybe a Fermi estimate would suggest that the benefits are actually really small and not worth thinking about? Seems worth at least checking, though?)

Potential downsides:

  • Takes some attention and time from whoever sets it up
  • Costs a little money
  • Maybe gives the vibe that things should only be posted if they meet a certain writing quality standard? Probably not though?"

*Not quite a megaproject, but more than a microproject :D"

Replies from: evelynciara
comment by BrownHairedEevee (evelynciara) · 2022-05-01T06:35:29.700Z · EA(p) · GW(p)

I'm willing to do this work for $15-35 per page (depending on the author's ability to pay); I'm very detail-oriented and like this kind of stuff. I can only really copyedit/proofread posts written in American English, but I can do formatting for any text. I could probably do one or two copyediting or formatting jobs per weekend.

comment by Markus Amalthea Magnuson (peppersghost) · 2022-04-30T11:53:36.463Z · EA(p) · GW(p)

I plan to start offering this – among other things – for free through the Altruistic Agency later this year.

comment by BrownHairedEevee (evelynciara) · 2022-05-01T06:22:43.738Z · EA(p) · GW(p)

Another type of service that would be useful is accessibility services, such as writing transcripts/timed text for audio and video (e.g. podcasts) and alt text for images.

Replies from: Cienna
comment by Cienna · 2022-05-01T15:51:06.898Z · EA(p) · GW(p)

I used to do transcribing with timestamps. I met some cool people and learned a lot about the topics I was working on that way. It was a good remote flex-time freelance job for me at 20. I rarely do transcription work anymore, but I would be happy to do a call about what I learned and my setup with anyone considering this line of work.