Why do editors make so many mistakes?

Some grammar rules (and embarrassing mistakes!) transcend the uniqueness of different regions and style guides. This new International Grammar section by OnlineBookClub.org ultimately identifies those rules thus providing a simple, flexible rule-set, respecting the differences between regions and style guides. You can feel free to ask general questions about spelling and grammar. You can also provide example sentences for other members to proofread and inform you of any grammar mistakes.

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Claudia Angelucci
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Re: Why do editors make so many mistakes?

Post by Claudia Angelucci »

Shirley Ann Riddern Labzentis wrote: 18 Feb 2024, 09:54 There was a time, only a few months ago, that almost every review received two scores which was the difference between the two editors. No two editors score the same. I don't know why they did it this way as it caused a lot of confusion and disputes. I have noticed that lately, my reviews have only been given to one editor. Now, whether they have changed their policy, I don't know. Let's hope that they keep with one editor.
I noticed the same thing. It's been a long time since I got two scorecards now. I think it is much easier this way for everyone – for the editors, as you said, and for the reviewers too; it is less frustrating.
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Post by Claudia Angelucci »

Alissa Nesson wrote: 17 Feb 2024, 21:00 Thanks for your reply. That’s a lot of work for a volunteer position. Can you tell me why there would be two score cards unless the review was sent back to be fixed? That confuses me.
Absolutely, it does seem like a lot of work! I used to think editors were compensated for it. Personally, I couldn't do it – firstly, I don't feel qualified enough, and secondly, judging others' work must be quite challenging. Still, I have a lot of admiration for those who take on the task.
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Post by Alissa Nesson »

So far, I only received two scorecards on my first review because they sent it back to be fixed. Ever since then, I’ve only had one scorecard for each review. However, I did see a post on one of these forums recently where someone was asking why they got two scorecards. I agree that it can only confuse things, having two all the time. I hope they don’t go back to doing it that way.
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Post by Alissa Nesson »

I’ve been here since last July but the only review I had two score cards on was my first because they wanted me to fix it. Certainly, having more than one scorecard and editor would be extremely confusing and would almost definitely lead to a lot of disputes and arguments. Just sounds like a bad idea in general.
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Post by Claudia Angelucci »

I agree, it is not a good idea. I think it is a massive waste of time for everyone, as you said, creating a lot of confusion. Plus, it can be a bit upsetting.
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Post by Tobi Adefila »

With issues like this arising I believe that editors can do better.
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Post by Oluwagbenga Akangbe »

Shirley Ann Riddern Labzentis wrote: 26 Dec 2023, 10:06 I have three grammar apps that I run my reviews through before I submit them. They will tell me if I forgot a comma or if I need to remove a comma that didn't belong there. Usually, they all agree on the same punctuation. However, when I submit my review, almost every time, an editor will say that I needed to place a comma here and there and I get deducted points. Who is to say that the editor is correct and the apps, Grammarly, Scribbens, etc. are wrong? If you are in this for the long haul, which I am, you can't protest every review, I have done close to 50 reviews, since you are given only so many chances to challenge the editors in a lifetime! I don't think that this is fair, but I understand that the staff is overwhelmed and some reviewers will submit every review for re-consideration. Yet, when you are an editor, you are asked to overlook the commas that an author might miss, as commas are subjective and therefore, the commas are uncounted errors. Shouldn't the same guidelines be applied to the reviewers? Just wanted to vent this morning as another review got a lower score than I anticipated.
I have had and still have the same issues you spoke about. In fact, I've gone on and on again with editors and even admin about these things. The subjectivity, use of commas etc. The most annoying part is, I had a recent review which was scored by an editor and told to remove some commas that were used subjectively, I removed these commas only for another editor to call them errors and scored me very low. I almost ran mad as I was so furious.
I run all my reviews through paid AI and Grammar checkers and they all say the reviews are grammatically correct and I have been an English teacher for over 30 years yet an editor argues it's not correct and ofc they have the final say about it. So are the grammar checkers and ai wrong while the editor and sometimes admin right, due to lack of updated grammar rules or subjectivity? It sometimes feel like they take pride in just saying there's an error in a review even when there's no error or no guideline breach
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Post by Matt Graves »

I really appreciate all of you sharing your experiences, because I just had another bad one, and requested a recheck for only the second time. Unfortunately, the system took out all the spacing for numbers to address the errors and my paragraph breaks before sending my comments to the editor. So it looks like a crazy, rambling mess. Who knows what will happen with it . . . I wish I'd known it would remove the proper formatting, that made my comments clearer.

Anyway, I'm going to mention my three alleged grammar errors here, since I can actually use proper spacing and maybe get some good feedback. I am still learning to use these forums. They sort of feel overwhelming at this point. I wish I had kept a grammar book from school, although it has always come to me intuitively.

1. The first one was: "At times it feels like a historical novel, especially given the flippant manner in which tragedies are presented."

Suggested correction was: "At times, it feels like a historical novel, especially given the flippant manner in which tragedies are presented."

I felt like the extra comma should be optional. And I noticed someone else said they'd had disagreements over comma placement. I felt like an extra comma made the sentence sound stilted. And I noted that reviewers are discouraged from being too hard on authors for comma placement, since that can be a matter of style. I'm not sure if this was a matter of style or if I made a legit mistake here.

2. "It also diminished the story that the characters pretty much spoke alike."

Correction: "It also diminished the story because the characters pretty much spoke alike."

Strikes me as a matter of style, but if someone knows why this would be a grammar error and could direct me to a reference so I can understand the principle. then I would appreciate it. In case the mistake was legitimate.

3. "Credit where it is due, not many modern novels do that as strongly as this tale, which begins in World War II, a traumatic period of history that the world has not yet seen the equal of. "

Correction from editor: "Credit where it is due, not many modern novels do that as strongly as this tale, which begins in World War II, a traumatic period of history that the world has not yet seen the equivalent of."

And I feel like the word "equivalent" just neuters this sentence, which in the context of the review, was meant to pack a little bit of a punch. The words were supposed to carry a tone of authority. If the word "equal" here is grammatically incorrect, again, I'd appreciate if someone could point me to why.

I've had several poor scores that I was at a loss to understand. I envy those of you getting bummed out by only getting 97% instead of 100%, because this latest score of 61% is the highest I've gotten so far. And sometimes I've put the reviews through a lot more editing than I did for college papers that I did great on back in the day. It has become really frustrating. Because I do not know what I'm doing wrong, and sometimes _if_ I'm actually doing something wrong. Or if I just caught an editor who was in a bad mood, looking for something to gripe about.

It is really weird though, because they often say they enjoyed reading the review, or could tell that I spent a lot of time on it. Sometimes I did make legitimate errors. I am willing to learn from those. But I can only learn if I understand why something was counted as an error. At least I am not alone in this. I've done eight reviews before complaining about it. It's more like I'm trying to figure it out. If the mistake is on my part, I will fix it. It's hard to know sometimes.

For my #2 example, I did find a way to rewrite the sentence that was better than my awkward phrasing or what the editor suggested: "Another thing that diminished the story was the fact that the characters pretty much spoke alike."

At least it is thought-provoking to ruminate over the scorecards. But I used to get 90% or greater on papers at a tough college. My first writing teacher had the longest tenure there, and it cracked her up when somebody found mistakes on my papers, like it proved I was human after all. The second professor I had told me after the class ended that he was glad he could teach me something, since I already wrote very well. So it has been very discouraging to suddenly get hit with so much criticism for allegedly poor grammar. It feels like it comes out of nowhere sometimes, although other times, I can clearly see that I did make a mistake, and sort of do a #facepalm moment.

Maybe with practice, some day I can at least get 80% on a review here. But it has been jarring to go from A's in school to a D- or F here. And not know why.

I known this post will have errors. I am writing it off the top of my head when I am already really tired. So this is not a great sample of my writing. But it is nice to know that other people have the same thing happen. I probably won't post about it again in the future, just put up with it, sort of like I put up with having to serve food that was dropped on the floor at a fast food job. Really all a person can do is his best work. Just dust oneself off and try again.

But I am curious about the examples I gave. I wish my grasp of grammar was more strict and logical. I always did it by intuition, because I read a lot and have practiced writing a lot. But these editors can be really strict. And I need to find a good old book that clearly states what the rules are. Still curious for other reviewers' feedback if any of you have time to read this spill.
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Post by Matt Graves »

For anybody who bothered to read the mess above, I hope I wasn't too gripey. I requested a recheck, and the editor was fair and reasonably polite.

I would still be curious to what the gold standard is these days for a grammar book. I had some good ones from school but lost them when in unstable living situations. If only I remembered the titles. One was something about an "MLA format" that is the standard for scholarly papers and a lot of technical writing.

And I'd be curious as to who thinks I need a comma after "At times" in example #1. I could hear someone speaking that sentence with a pause there, but I would be more likely not to pause there in my own speech. I would only pause after the word "novel".

It may be time to re-educate myself about basic rules of grammar though instead of relying on intuition. Some rules are flexible or subjective, but some things really are black and white.
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Post by Claudia Angelucci »

Matt Graves wrote: 19 Mar 2024, 02:00 For anybody who bothered to read the mess above, I hope I wasn't too gripey. I requested a recheck, and the editor was fair and reasonably polite.

I would still be curious to what the gold standard is these days for a grammar book. I had some good ones from school but lost them when in unstable living situations. If only I remembered the titles. One was something about an "MLA format" that is the standard for scholarly papers and a lot of technical writing.

And I'd be curious as to who thinks I need a comma after "At times" in example #1. I could hear someone speaking that sentence with a pause there, but I would be more likely not to pause there in my own speech. I would only pause after the word "novel".

It may be time to re-educate myself about basic rules of grammar though instead of relying on intuition. Some rules are flexible or subjective, but some things really are black and white.
Hi there, I did read your posts and exactly understand your frustration. I agree that the bits you pointed out are mostly subjective mistakes, as the use of commas is mostly arbitrary. Strangely enough, I had an author, for the first time ever, who came back to me saying that the mistakes I noted in their book weren't mistakes because they involved commas and were just a question of style, and the moderator agreed with them! Anyway, 60% is a good score, especially for a newcomer. At first, I used to score really low because I didn’t understand part of the guidelines, but then I got them. However, it still upsets me when an editor wrongly marks mistakes. I try to use simple, straightforward sentences most of the time and overuse commas! :lol2:

"At times it feels like a historical novel, especially given the flippant manner in which tragedies are presented." You're correct. The sentence is grammatically correct and understandable both with and without the comma. The inclusion of the comma is a stylistic choice rather than a grammatical necessity. It's perfectly fine to omit the comma if you prefer the flow of the sentence without it.

All the best with everything!
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Post by Matt Graves »

Thanks for the comments.

I did not realize authors were allowed to interact with reviewers like you described.

Tickled me when you said your policy was to overuse commas now.

It really cracks me up that nobody has answered the basic question of what is the best standard grammar book currently in use. Maybe nobody knows ... ?
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Post by Claudia Angelucci »

Authors or publishers do not communicate directly with the reviewers; they communicate through a moderator if there is any problem with the questionnaire. So, this wasn't the author/publisher speaking directly to me. I'm not sure which is the best standard grammar book in use. "Collins," "Cambridge," and "Oxford" produce high-quality grammar references and are probably the most used. I am not sure if the editors here have to refer to a particular grammar book. Frankly, from my experience, I don't think this is the case, but it would be a great idea if they did.
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Post by Stacy K »

I am so glad I found this post and these comments. I just sent one of my reviews back for a third time after two different editors had conflicting suggestions on errors due to my use of commas. I ran my review through Grammarly and my commas weren't flagged. I also think the use of commas should be overlooked as we do when we read a book to review.
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Post by Claudia Angelucci »

Stacy K wrote: 14 May 2024, 17:50 I am so glad I found this post and these comments. I just sent one of my reviews back for a third time after two different editors had conflicting suggestions on errors due to my use of commas. I ran my review through Grammarly and my commas weren't flagged. I also think the use of commas should be overlooked as we do when we read a book to review.
Yes, I agree with you. I have also asked for my score to be adjusted many, many times. Most commas are subjective. Sometimes, I was marked wrong on a word because the editor preferred another word. I have to say, most of the time, I had my score adjusted by the editor or the administrator. However, it is a bit frustrating.
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Post by Gerry Steen »

Hello, Claudia and everyone who has replied to this post. I read everyone's replies, and I share the same experiences as you. I have done over 30 reviews. My very first review recieved a 9% rating. I had not remembered the guideline about double spacing between paragraphs. I made the mistake of mentioning the title of the book several times without italics and lost 10% for each time I made the same mistake. I probably had a few misplaced commas as well. So, I had a lot to learn.

As time went on, I noticed that some editors would leave a short explanation about why they were noting an error. I appreciated that. I think that the editors should be obliged to leave a short explanation of the grammar rule for each error. This would prove that they know their stuff and cause them to pause and make sure that they themselves are not making an error.

I use grammarly to check my work. It is a good app for checking spelling mistakes, missed spaces, periods and capitals. But it is not reliable for checking commas. After I read my review 10 or more times to find errors or reword it, I jot down sentences that I am not sure of especially when it comes to commas. I will check each sentence by referring to two grammar books I found on Amazon kindle unlimited: "The Only Grammar Book You'll Ever Need" by Susan Thurman and "Actually the Comma Goes Here" by Lucy Cripps. They have been helpful. My reviewer rating has gone up gradually. Average is now 69%.

I have 3 questions.
1.Do any of you know of a book that has grammar quizzes and exercises in it so that I can test and improve my knowledge of grammar rules and sentence structure?

2. Would anyone like to participate in our own quizzes that we could submit to each other? That way we could practice and help each other.

3. Claudia, would it be okay to start these quizzes in this post which was your creation? If not, we could start it in another post.

In summary, I want to rid myself of the frustrations about editing that we all share. How about we have some fun and help each other get better? From reading all of the replies I feel that we are all positive people who want to get better at this and have fun doing so. Since the editors are anonymous, they might want to join in the fun and could help us all get better at this. Ciao for now fellow reviewers.
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