General Writing and Grammar Help/Message to Ted

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Question
Hi Ted. I have just read your message. Please do not think that you have let me down. This is not the situation at all! In fact, I made a point of commenting that my writing is improving because of your help. And that's only after three questions. On a 10 point scale, a rating of 8 is not low at all (it equates to 80% in an exam, which I think is very good). 4 or 5 is a low rating. I think people need to understand that they cannot always score 10 out of 10 in ratings (nor would it be realistic to expect to always score 100% in exams. I thought the purpose of these ratings was to give your honest opinion. If people always gave ratings of 10 to keep the experts happy, then it defeats the purpose of having a rating system. Also, I tend not to always give 10 as this implies that no further improvement can be made, but the fact is, that there is always room for improvement no matter how good a person is at what they do. As for the nomination for volunteer of the month, I definitely DID nominate you the first time. If it hasn't been reflected in the data, I don't know why. I am happy to validate this if you can tell me how or who I can contact to do this. Again, I say that you have NOT let me down, in the least. I have already learnt so much from you in just three questions. It was never my intention to offend you, so if I have, I offer my sincerest apologies. Julie Choy

Answer
Dear Julie:

I have read your message several times.  I have reached the conclusion that you and I have very different philosophies.  

Allexperts has always been a volunteer organization.  Its members provide FREE help to those who submit questions or problems.  The only "reward" the volunteer gets is the evaluation, along with comments the questioner may choose to make.

My service began with Allexperts about 15 years ago, soon after Steven Gordon initiated the project.  There were about 26 volunteers in the grammar and writing category.  Two of us shared the top spot because of our ratings.  The other person dropped out of the program because of a rating dispute.

After a year or so of helping others, I received a question in the poetry category.  The questioner provided little information about the poem he had been trying to recall.  I read his question very early one morning.  Throughout the day, I consulted various poetry indexes, asked colleagues for help, and posted the question on a reference librarian's help site.  I had no success.  The "tone" of the poem suggested it was written by an American.  So, I scanned multiple volumes of poetry by lesser known American poets.  After nearly ten hours of reading, I found what I thought was the poem.  Very little of what the questioner sent me was actually in the poem.  However, it seemed to be "close enough."

I sent my answer to him, and three days later I received his evaluation.  He was amazed that I had found the exact poem he needed, especially since he had inaccurately remembered much of it.  He also commented that he had been trying for years to find the poem, but no one could help him.

Then, he gave me a collection of "8s" for my ratings.  I wrote back to him, asking for an explanation.  He responded with telling me that he was a retired Navy officer who had done a large amount of ratings for crew members.  His philosophy was like yours:  Encourage someone who had done an outstanding performance by assigning a "grade" of 80, which is slightly above the average.  That lower evaluation would stimulate the service member to try harder.

In the educational world, assigning a grade of 80 to a paper that is worth 95 does not help the student.  Lowering the evaluation, in fact, demoralizes the student who has tried hard to achieve the highest grade possible.

Navy man gave me an 8 for punctuality.  Allexperts suggests allowing 72 hours for a question to be completed.  My answer was sent in 10 hours.  Navy man did not read my answer for two days, so he lowered my score.

Even though I had provided him the correct answer that, by his own admission, no one else had for many years, my knowledge was rated 8.  My politeness was also an 8, as was the clarity of my answer.  Once again, his response to me was that my work and my answer were outstanding, but he felt I should be encouraged to improve my service.  I asked him for suggestions about how I could improve my service, and he responded that he did not know how, since everything I had done was extraordinary, except my response time was not good.  He thought that we experts should be sitting at our computers waiting for questions to which we would immediately send answers!

I was so discouraged by this experience, I wrote to Steve Gordon and told him how negatively I felt about what had happened.  Steve responded to me and to the Navy man.  He strongly supported me, removed the ratings from my record, and asked Navy man NOT to use Allexperts again.

Julie, I have had 51 years of experience as a teacher and librarian.  I have supported students in many ways, including giving evaluations and grades that I felt they actually merited.

I could give you many more examples, but I hope that I have made my point.  I respect your view, although I differ with it.

Our philosophies are totally different.  I suggest you contact other experts with your questions.  You should consider advising them about your ratings views when you send your questions to them.  That would only be fair.

Ted Nesbitt  

General Writing and Grammar Help

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Ted Nesbitt

Expertise

I am the bibliographic instruction and reference librarian at a public college. Some members of the English department recommend me to their students. I offer assistance in grammar, punctuation, sentence structure, and paragraph development. My master`s thesis concerns William Faulkner`s tragic novels. I formerly taught advanced placement English at two schools in the Philadelphia area.

Experience

I have been one of the highest-ranked volunteers in this category for more than a decade.

Education/Credentials
B. A. and M. A in English; MSIS in Library & Information Sciences; graduate study in philosophy

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