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I Can Haz Article?

February 11, 2010

I poke around various writer’s markets looking for work. Most of the job postings out there are pretty straightforward. “Write an article about coffee machines. Use the key words “coffee machine” at least twice in the article. Use links where appropriate. 300-400 words.” That kind of boring, but useful, stuff.

Then sometimes I come across a posting that was clearly written by a person who can’t write at all. Obviously, this is why they need to hire a freelancer. Unfortunately for them, their bad grammar and/or total lack of style makes it very difficult to glean what exactly they are looking for in an article. “Articles about coffee machine. Brand and price. Include in links and pictures of same maybe. Normal tone.” What brand? What price? What does that third sentence even MEAN? What the hell is a “normal” tone? And by the same token, what kind of tone would be “abnormal”? “Once upon a time, there was a beautiful Black and Decker coffee machine who lived in a land of magic.”

Even worse are the writing gigs posted by clients who sound frazzled and desperate. “Can someone plz write an article about coffee makers? Plz write 300-400 words!” This just seems pathetic to me. I don’t need to be ASKED to write an article; I want the work. I appreciate politeness, but I don’t need to be treated nicely; I need article specs. Also, politeness is more effective when it’s spelled properly. I’m pretty sure a lot of writers are anal about spelling (and then there are the writers who don’t give a damn, I know yu are owt there two).

Sometimes the plaintive ad combines with the unclear ad to create an even more pathetic ad that is just as confusing: “Plz someone will write article re: coffee machines and plz do with brand and price. Plz submit deadline!” Aging jocks are the ones writing these, I’m pretty sure. They paid nerds to write their essays in college and they pay nerds to write essays for them now. Either that, or these gigs are being offered by lolcatz. I don’t want to work for lolcatz. They would pay me in bad breath and mice.

The best-written calls for writers are written by other writers. “Hi, I am writing a book about coffee machines (we’ll stick with that one, I don’t know why) and I need someone to proofread. Look for grammar, punctuation, spelling, consistency, and style. Experience preferred but not necessary. I will pay a set rate of absolutely nothing because I am a writer and I don’t have the money to pay you, really.” Ok, so that last part is never explicitly stated. That’s what I get for looking for gigs on craigslist.

Ultimately, though, the poorly spelled veiled begging makes me feel needed, which in turn makes me feel important. After feeling important for a few minutes, I realize that there are five hundred other writers out there writing about the same goddamn coffee machine, so I better do a good job.

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