Recently I made a note of the exorbitant prevalence of OCD or OCD-like behavior in copy editors, specifically those associated with a company I do a fair amount of “work” for. (It’s a content mill and nothing more, and I’ve become so disenchanted with the whole operation that I no longer write under my real name.) Since I posted that stuff — and possibly because I posted it — things have taken some amusing and spectacular turns for the worse, or better, depending on your taste for schadenfreude.
In my previous post about this, I mentioned the existence of an invitation-only Facebook group a couple of copy editors for this company created specifically so that they could — without the company higher-ups knowing about it — mock and malign writers who committed especially egregious sins of composition or whom they simply disliked for some reason; in addition, they could complain about the higher-ups themselves with impunity. (There’s a forum for copy editors on the company’s site, but the higher-ups and some of the writers can view it.) A week or so ago, one of the group’s creators announced that the group would be migrating from Facebook to a dot net URL hosted by one of the forumites, and would be password-protected. We were told to e-mail this forumite to get a password, which I did. All this time I was planning not to participate since I’m now only a writer and not an editor for this company, having consistently fallen grossly short of my weekly copy-editing quota because I prefer, and make more money from, writing. I figured it wasn’t really fair to the other copy editors, and besides, most of them struck me as self-righteous assholes with marked personality deficits (OCD is rarely found in isolation) and banal, Eeyore-esque outlooks on practically everything.
Well, a strange thing happened. At about this time, I discovered another privately hosted forum inspired by this company, the name of which is “(CompanyName)Sucks.com.” This was a place for embittered, disenfranchised, and in some cases fired-from-the-company writers to gather and commiserate about the various evils of the company’s copy editors and generally callous and apathetic attitude toward its freelancers. True as some of these charges are, most of the denizens of this forum proved to be assholes as well, but of a different sort from the ones in the copy editors’ private forum. Whereas the editors are a haughty bunch who somehow think that their forum maintains standards of “professionalism” because cussing isn’t allowed there — an interesting idea, given that the entire raison d’etre of the pace is bashing people behind their backs — the writers on the “sucks” forum are as cliquish and deluded as your average coterie of seventh-grade outcasts.
That’s not the strange part. About a day after the new editors’ bitchbox opened for business, I could no longer access it. The same thing happened to someone I helped get an editing job with this company. This person e-mailed the woman who had, just weeks earlier, gone out of her way to track us down on Facebook based on our profiles on the company site and invite us to the group, and asked her what the story was. She got no reply. At this point I discovered that I’d been blocked on Facebook by at least three editors, including the aforementioned woman and the person supplying the passwords. I e-mailed the woman on Facebook using my old yellow Lab’s account (“Hi *******, tHIS iS kEviN bECKS dOG wONDRiNG wHAT hAPPENd. nO fORRuM ACCESs, nO eXPLNAtION, wHAT giVES??! tHANSSKS”) and didn’t get an answer. I tracked down an alternate e-mail for the passwords person and asked her what the story was; again, no answer. Finally, I asked an editor I had become somewhat chummy with if he could find out the story. I haven’t heard from him since.
Clearly, these people are a bunch of cowards. The only thing I’m not certain about is why this happened. I figure that at least one of the following played a role: Someone saw my other blog post, someone discovered I was no longer an editor (I think this is the most likely explanation, since I didn’t keep this a secret from everyone on that miserable board), or someone lurking at the “sucks” forum — as virtually all of the copy editors do — figured out my handle there and didn’t like my complaints about various unnamed editors. Whatever the case, none of this explains why the other person I mentioned was also ousted. The only explanation for that is her known association with me. I guess I poisoned the well on that one.
Here is the really funny part. For some reason the people at the “sucks” forum didn’t much like me. They thought I was a woman because I used a picture of the renowned physicist Lisa Randall as my avatar. Most of the members of this place are female, and my aforementioned ally speculated that the essential cattiness of angry women toward other women explained their attitude toward me as well as anything could. Regardless, I wasn’t taking their crap and when I started stooping to their standards of conduct — making fun of them for taking anti-anxiety drugs and correcting their grammar and spelling mistakes — I was banned. So in the space of several days, I’d been kicked out of a forum for copy editors and banned from a forum created mainly to belittle those same editors. Needless to say I was impressed with myself.
But — and if you’re still reading for some reason, my condolences — it gets even better. I registered for the “sucks” forum under a new handle, and changed my name on the company site to the same handle. I used the same new avatar for both. I began posting on the company forum for the first time in ages, using this opportunity to be very critical of the copy editors, quite a few of whom are inarguably as incompetent as they are arrogant. (Most are agreeable enough, but with a few exceptions they wouldn’t be freelancing for this company if they had their editing shit together.) Before I had even made a post on the “sucks” forum using my new nom de plume, the same people who had harassed and ultimately banned me from the joint were cheering on my exploits on the company forums, oblivious to the fact that the same “woman” they hated was actually the dude they had taken a shine to.
I think that about covers it. Oh, wait. Just yesterday the company announced that writers now get to evaluate editors’ work, just as they get to score our work. Naturally, as a few moles in the company CE forum have indicated, the copy editors are aghast at this idea, since in their view the typical writer for this company is a talentless ingenue. They seem to not understand the fact that we are all freelancers, and that contrary to their squint-eyed screeching, a lot of us writers have a lot more editing experience outside of this shitty company than they ever will. If people who can’t tell “people who” from “people that” and seed extraneous commas into articles as if they’re being paid by the mistake are in a position to judge writers’ grammar, then it’s only fair for writers to have the chance to tell good editors when they’re doing good work and take the flummoxed and prickly ones to task in a company-sanctioned manner.
I should shut up and just enjoy the fact that I can make decent money writing utter dreck, but life is a lot more fun when I take the opportunity to link irony to a misanthropic take on human failings.