UPDATE 2/7/05 The experiment described in this post has been discontinued. After a year of paying readers for noticing typos and grammatical errors, I've become good enough at proofreading myself to fly solo. Even so, I still make occasional errors, and I appreciate e-mails telling me about them.
Legal Underground is pleased to announce immediate openings for highly intelligent and sharp-eyed readers willing to serve as part-time copy editors and proofreaders. All are welcome to participate.
What will you earn? $20 for each typographical error, $10 for each grammatical error, and $5 for each clever demonstration of how I can omit needless words.
Who is eligible? All readers. While before, I welcomed your e-mails and comments informing me of my stupid mistakes, now I'm going to pay you too.
Why am I doing this? Number one, I hate errors. Number two, I love the way good copy editors can make writing sharper and more focused. Number three, by giving myself a financial motive to improve my own editing skills, I hope I'll accomplish these goals myself, without having to pay you very much.
Interested? Then read the mandatory rules in the continuation . . .
Rules for Legal Underground Proofreaders and Copy Editors:
1. Posts before 2/3/04 are not included in my offer. If you think they'll make good practice for you, dive right in, but I'm not going to pay you for pointing out my past mistakes.
2. I'm not looking for literary criticism like this. Though it's always welcome, I'm not going to pay you for it.
3. If I find myself paying out too much, I reserve the right, with two days advance notice, to change the terms of this offer, but not after you have already earned the right to be paid.
4. I'll pay within five days, subject to my own verification of the correctness of your suggested corrections. I am the final arbiter of whether I owe you anything. If you take issue with my decision, you can do it on your own blog, or on this one in the comment section. (As always, heated debate is welcome here!)
5. This legal disclaimer applies to my post, and should be considered incorporated herein as if fully set forth. In fact, it applies to my entire site.
6. Hints for typos. I'm especially bad about these: too/to their/there/they're hear/here its/it's. In addition, you might catch me in a misspelling from time to time.
7. Grammatical errors. Anyone who would like to lecture me on grammar is encouraged to do so. However, if you want to earn the money, I have to agree that I've committed an error. Please see Rule #4.
8. More on grammatical errors. Please call me on these: unintended double negatives, nonstandard verb forms, incorrect pronoun forms, and subject-verb agreement. However, there are a number of "non-rules" that are not real rules of grammar, and which I am not going to follow:
"Don't begin a sentence with and or but."
"Never begin a sentence with because."
"Use each other to refer to two, one another to refer to three or more."
"Use between with two, among with three or more."
"Don't use which or this to refer to a whole clause."
"Use fewer with nouns you can count, less with quantities you cannot."
"Always use whom as the object of a verb or preposition."
"Never end a sentence with a preposition."
Sources: Style: Ten Lessons in Clarity & Grace, by Joseph M. Williams; A Dictionary of Modern American Usage, by Bryan A. Garner.
9. Other grammar rules you can forget about: that or which, because we'll never agree on which is correct; split infinitives, because who cares; and intended sentence fragments, because they were intentional. As for punctuation, you can call me on any mistakes you think I've made, but I probably won't agree. (Punctuation is often a "feel" thing.)
10. Omission of needless words. Here I'm thinking of Strunk and White's Rule #17 of the chapter titled "Elementary Principles of Composition." You'll earn some money with this rule, since I frequently violate it. Show me ways I can omit needless words. Examples in Strunk and White: "the question as to whether" should be "whether"; "this is a subject that" should be "this subject"; "his story is a strange one" should be "his story is strange."
11. I'll welcome comments on style, but except as stated in #10, I won't pay you for noting violations of stylistic rules including "put statements in positive form," "avoid a succession of loose sentences," or "use the active voice" (all from Strunk and White).
12. If you wish, I will safeguard your identity as a Legal Underground proofreader or copy editor.
13. Finally, there is at least one typo in this post. Find it, and the first $20 is yours (the winners of Riddles #1 and #2 are ineligible, but only this one time).
So go ahead, make me poor! This blawg will be a better place for it, and I'll thank you. (But don't count on thanks from my law partner, who is also my wife. She's beginning to think I'm nuts.)
UPDATE I 3/24/04 Some rule changes were announced here. Also, as I've written elsewhere on this blawg, errors in my comments don't count.