Watching, judging: My job copyediting the Offbeat Empire (and how you can help!)

August 28 | diezyn
A Very Caroline rage comic.

My name is Caroline and I'm the official Watcher and Judger of the Empire.

I've been working as the Offbeat Empire's copyeditor since January 2011. I copyedit all of the websites. Since being hired, I completed my BA and started and completed an MA in American Studies, specializing in American literature. I have worked as an editor and writer in other capacities throughout my university career, but mostly in academic publications. That's why copyediting for the Empire is such a sweet gig: not many other people get to say that their job description includes making sure that an editor knows the "zombie" baby in a photoshoot is actually a Nightmare Before Christmas reference. Not many other people need to correct the spelling of Cthulhu on an almost-weekly basis.

Therefore I am constantly challenged by the wonderfully weird writers of the Empire. But sometimes, though the perfectionist in me hates to admit it, things slip through the cracks.

This can be for a variety of reasons: sometimes posts come in too late for me to copyedit; sometimes WordPress doesn't save my edits; and sometimes I fuck up. And sometimes readers point out these fuck ups and volunteer to copyedit for the Empire.

You may be able to surmise by now that when a reader does this (sometimes politely, sometimes not so much), it kind of grinds my gears. I'm on the staff pages of all of the sites; I write for Offbeat Home & Life and my bio always says I'm the copyeditor; the editors reference me whenever I point them toward a sweet link. But I get it. I know what it's like to read something and be turned off by typo, or a grammatical error, or even a factual error. And that's where the Fix Typo button comes in.

How to submit a copyedit or other correction

The text you've highlighted will be auto-populated in both Original Text and Corrected text fields, so that you can easily correct and submit!
The text you've highlighted will be auto-populated in both Original Text and Corrected text fields, so that you can easily correct and submit!
Our developer has created a sweet copyedit plug-in that's now live across all the sites. Here's how to use it:

  1. Highlight the post text that needs correcting.
  2. Click the "Fix Typo" button at the end of the post. A window will pop up, auto-populated with the text that you selected to fix.
  3. Fill out the required fields.
  4. Click submit!
  5. I'll get an email about your suggestion.
  6. As soon as I can, I'll go in and make the correction.

Tip: You can skip step 1 if you don't mind manually typing in the text.

In summary

  • The Fix Typo button is a great way to get me, the real-life Offbeat Copyeditor, to reconsider something on the site.
  • Please use it instead of emailing the Empire, tweeting, or making comments about an inaccuracy.
  • You can use it to flag copy issue, not just typos! This can include broken links, factual errors, or even just problematic language.

This ain't no computer running Spell Check willy-nilly; I'm right here at your grammar-whore disposal, always watching… judging…

If you have any questions about the FIX TYPO button, let us know below…

  1. As the unofficial copy editor at my job (people send me their reports to proof because apparently I'm good at it), I say KUDOS to you, Caroline! It's a generally thankless job because people don't notice all the things you spell CORRECTLY, only the few eff ups here and there.

    24 agree
  2. Another fellow copy editor here. I pride myself on my mad editing skillz, but even the best of us makes a mistake now and again. I definitely know the feeling of having your hard work go unnoticed since that's almost the point of our job! So, just wanted to high-five you here and say keep up the good work =)

    7 agree
    • In this way, copyediting is just like comment moderation… if no one knows you exist, you're doing it right.

      …which is also an effective way to kill someone's spirit very slowly and completely.

      28 agree
  3. I copyedit for two magazines. My grammar is often atrocious–it's not even what I got my degree in. But nothing makes me more annoyed for a site than a rudely-phrased typo correction (even if the original commenter totally thought they weren't being rude.)

    I once typed a recipe, instructing the world to "ass the onions to the pot." A man called in, chuckling. "Better pass this stuff by a copyeditor or something in the future." HAR HAR, OLD MAN. He definitely was having a good laugh about it, and I didn't detect even a single ounce of bad intent in him, but c'mon. That was like stabbing my heart with a fork–as if I didn't already feel bad enough about slipping a wordy-dird into 30,000 copies of a magazine.

    And can I just put this out there, world? Consider common usage before you flip out about an error in anything. Even if it's SO wrong, please understand that if the majority of people say something a particular way, it's as good as dictionary-correct.
    See also: commonly-accepted plural forms.

    7 agree
    • Sometimes, if I'm frustrated while I'm cooking, 'ass the onions in the pot' is an accurate instruction. It looks a lot like throwing them in, just with more force. :)

      7 agree
  4. This article is awesome, your job sounds awesome, and you do a truly awesome job, Caroline!

    5 agree
  5. YAY for Caroline!!!
    That is all

    (Actually YAY for offbeat empire letting us in on the secret workings in the background and making us appreciate the whole team even more!)

    9 agree
  6. I worked as a copyeditor for a little over a year, but for industry B2B publications.
    My boss (for a little while before she left) was very rigid, whereas I tended to be more flexible in terms of voice – I think for any publication, it's important to allow for some diversity in style.
    Also, while I didn't have bridethulhus or zombies to keep me going, you'd be amazed at the amount of innuendo in some construction articles.

    0 agree
    • Two great headlines from a construction industry publication:
      Beaver and pump a winning combo
      Hammer care vital

      You're welcome ;-)

      1 agrees
  7. If I see one or maybe two typos in a post, my newest general rule is to read over it and move on. Typos are (unfortunately) so commonplace these days that it doesn't get me to bat a second blink at them. If a post (this is for anywhere; not specifically for here) is laden with errors, I just don't read it or if I am familiar with the site, I'll comment on them.

    I don't find many errors on here, so kudos to you for your fantastic job!

    0 agree
  8. Former copy editor, desktop publisher, and still-current word-nerd. I rarely see typos and such on this site so you must be doing a good job. I love this plug in, have used it a few times for problematic language and the few typos or homophones that pop up. The fact that you even have it is proof enough that you clearly care and want to fix those things, and I LURVE the fact that the OffBeat Empire has a culture of being open to feedback. (For a little while there I was afraid Ariel was going to start cringing when she saw my name in her inbox but she's always been so gracious even with feedback about negative experiences not related to copy.)

    You're doing great, Caroline, keep up the good work!

    0 agree

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