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The CE Blacklist


How to Dress Like a Demand CE

Hi there DSSers,

January 2014 has come and is just about gone, so we’ve at least got that out of the way.

This was an interesting letter that showed up in the DSS mailbox and thought I’d run it by the crew (or what’s left of you out there).

Hey Patrick,

Demand Studios is about to go. You know it, I know it, the stockholders know it. The only people who don’t seem to know it are the clueless Zombs in the forums and CEs. Why are they still being dicks when editing articles? NOBODY CARES HOW WELL RESEARCHED THESE THINGS ARE. Just give us our $25 and move on.

That being said, I had another $25 taken from me by a CE. I had actually debated about whether or not to bother with the rewrite, but I went ahead and did it. Of course, it wasn’t up to the usual high Demand standards and I lost my money and time.

I decided this wasn’t going to happen again, so I came up with the idea of writing down hardass CEs into a document and saving it somewhere.

Then I thought to myself – “Hey, I’m sure there are some other writers who have gone through this same thing. Why don’t we keep this list over there at DSS?”

Whaddya say?


What do you guys think? We’d have to keep it all friendly and everything. Just a simple list of names of the CEs that have made lives miserable. A handy reference guide for the rest of us.


32 comments to The CE Blacklist

  • Bears Repeating...

    Clearly, DS is top-heavy with pompous idiots who claim to have credentials but truly appear to be inconsistent morons who fancy themselves literati.

    Wall of shame:

    Valerie Stevens – Real Estate (semi-literate, nit- picking, meandering instructions)

    Maya Black – Real Estate (just plain stoooopid)

    Marianne Chin – Careers (see above)

  • Jane

    Ms. Shade does it again. Adds misinformation, of her own, that the writer did not put in there, to an article.

    • DS Slave (Upon Occasion)

      You have my sympathies. I had to call it quits over there for my own sanity. Shade was a big part of that. She got four of my articles in a row, rejected three of them after I made the requested changes, and then added misinformation to the last. B*tch cost me $90 and three hours of my life. I swear her edit requests were longer than the articles. Of the last 15 I wrote for DS, nine were rejected, and every single one of the others had a rewrite request. Considering I wrote more than 2,000 articles for them over the years, and my rewrite percentage had been 9% before all that, and I had no major brain trauma or anything else that would explain a dramatic drop in quality (trust me, not caring about the content, site, or articles didn’t affect my ability to write), I can only conclude the nutrition editors are either screwing with the writers for entertainment purposes, or they are determined to prove how invaluable they are to the “quality” of DS.

    • Mike

      I can honestly say that Christina Shade degraded the quality of every nutrition article that I wrote for DMS that she reviewed. She constantly made herself superior and wrote stuff into the article that I did not want in there. When I complained, the DMS Editorial Team did nothing but support her with flying colors. This company frowns on unprofessional behavior, not realizing just how unprofessional they really are. They take what you write, change it into what they want, which is nothing more than a vehicle for their low-class advertisements, and then publish it with you as the author. DMS is about as unprofessional as there is. They publish a lot of false and inaccurate information, essentially spam, at least regarding health and nutrition. This is because their editors know nothing about health and nutrition. Google did the right thing in lowering their rating, and now the US Government should shut them down. This type of business should not be allowed on the internet. They will hurt the entire world for the purpose of selling advertising space.

  • Through

    Bonny Jones Brown and Anita Crone in travel. My impression, after a BJB rejection* and three AC rewrites, is that both women are out to prove they know the article topic/region better than the writer does, and their edits are nitpicky, longer than the original articles, and generally not about things that would make the piece more helpful to readers.

    CEs are no longer copy editors, BTW, but Content Evaluators (caps).

    * Like many CEs, BJB rejected the article for not addressing a topic she hadn’t considered important enough to mention in her exhaustive rewrite instructions. In my appeal, I cited the DMS style guide and gave five reasons to support my position. I submitted the appeal a week before the December shutdown and just received the verdict a week ago, probably then only because I finally e-mailed the help desk to ask about status. After the Martha Flores e-mails, I expected that the rejection would either rot in limbo or be upheld, which it was. The e-mail to me mentioned only one of my appeal arguments and dismissed it in a very facile way. DMS clearly doesn’t have the finances to pay anything they don’t absolutely have to. In fact, I still haven’t gotten paid today, and it’s almost 10 p.m. PT. Guess there’s another PayPal glitch. Because those happen all the ti…yeah, right.

    • Don Smythe

      As an ex-CE (mutual decision; my real job and a book I was writing were taking up too much time), I’d like to add some thoughts.

      I spent 4 years as a CE and probably edited 5,000 pieces (at $5 each). I probably rejected about 10 pieces during that time. I tried to limit my rewrite requests to factual and clarity issues; if there was a way I could rewrite a piece and get it approved, I would do it. It was better for both of us.

      Many of the cHow pieces I read in my first two years were crap; I spent far more time trying to rewrite some of them than they were worth. Having writers cleared for various specialties (e.g. tech, business) helped the caliber of writing I saw.

      As a writer-editor with 35+ years in the industry, I tried my best to be polite and ask only the questions that needed to be answered. I had few squabbles with writers (I thought DM management was a bigger hurdle) and only a handful of appeals (most of which I was upheld on).

      Demand and I parted ways last fall; it was already obvious that things were starting to come apart, and the grief I was getting wasn’t worth the money. My only objective was to make the copy better. I knew it was time to go when I found I really didn’t care about anything but the money.

      • Don–I only wrote for DMS for a few months, unfortunately as they were on the road to their well-earned demise.

        My first experiences with the senior editors were 99% positive. They helped me “get” the DMS mindset and dumb down my writing for general audiences, and the rewrites they asked for made perfect sense. It was only after I fell into the general CE queue that I started to have problems. And they were exactly the type of things mentioned here. In very short order it became obvious to me that the CEs were more interested in inserting their personal and not-very-well-informed opinions into my work than they were in editing what I had written. They would even look up references (most of them old and outdated) to contradict what I had said. And because I flatly refused to rewrite good content, I wound up spending more time defending my position than I did writing the piece. My work was never rejected, but I quickly became fed up with their nonsense and –had the studio not announced their “eHow Renovation” (still mysteriously underway after three months) I was going to quit. But, after I wrote to one of the section heads and told her that I thought the “Studio” was behaving without even a modicum of fairness towards the writers who were still waiting for work, they removed my writing privileges, thus saving me the trouble of telling them to go to #$%^.

        The Internet is awash with bad writing and –worse–bad information. and it is very sad that good writers and good editors cannot be put to good use somewhere. But content farms like DMS (with very rare exception) are not interested in talent, accuracy or experience. They are quite satisfied with anyone who will follow their rules and work cheap.

    • Anita Drink

      I too have been beaten by the Anita Crone shit-stick on several occasions. She always doesn’t seem to understand my articles, literally commenting “I don’t understand this article.” Thanks, DMS, for rounding up these botch-job editorial hamsters.

    • Headdesking

      Got my first BJB article. I was like, “Did you read the title because you’re asking me to write a different one?” I’m sure she’s going to be a joy to work with.

  • LB

    Nannette Croce is a condescending, self-important, crone of a CE who doesn’t understand the job description of a “copy editor.” A real copy editor is responsible for proof reading punctuation and grammar. That’s it. Nothing else. She needs to get over herself.

  • DS Slave (Upon Occasion)

    Christina Shade is the Nutrition Nazi. Half the time, she doesn’t address all the issues in the first rewrite request, so you fix all the annoying little things she nitpicks, and then she still rejects the article because of a problem she didn’t even tell you about the first time around, when you had a chance to fix it. (And most of the time, the problems are all in her head.) Of course, with her nitpicking attitude and attention to details no one cares about anyway, I’m sure she is one of DS’s top CEs.

    I think being a CE draws a certain type of person–the kind who likes to have an overinflated sense of worth and smug self-importance about being in charge of ridiculous content. A perk is being able to make those under you miserable, and the lack of professional pay doesn’t matter.

    • Jane

      Christina and K.J. Castle – two copy editors who think they are nutrition experts but have no credentials whatsoever and enjoy rejecting articles for “lack of proper referencing” – like I need a reference to verify that carrots are vegetables and that they are orange.

      • John

        100 percent agree – both of those 2 are the worst. K.J. castle is extremely pretentious – she loved to reference her education and experience in her rewrite requests to make herself sound superior. The funny part is she has ZERO credentials in nutrition.

    • Mike

      I have a Ph.D. in Nutrition and I wrote for DMS Nutrition for almost 2 years before I had enough. I was trying to make the world a better place, but DMS wouldn’t have it. The comments about Christina Shade and K.J. Castle are spot on. Neither are qualified to do the job, as is the case with the entire DMS Nutrition Editorial Team. Yes, Shade is considered by DMS to be the top Nutrition CE. The fact is that DMS people are ignorant, they have an extreme hatred of intelligence. Intelligent people and people with good hearts get treated like dirt and with cruelty, which is the DMS mode of operation. Shade and Castle are nothing more than puppets at the right hand of people like Claire Webb who give the orders, so the CE’s are not entirely to blame. The entire DMS Editorial Team is a Nazi organization. When I quit, they naturally had to have the last word, so they fired me. Their stated reason was “my writing was poor quality,” despite the fact that my composite grammar and research score was 4.25. When are their stakeholders going to realize that their own people are driving their company into a grave? DMS is currently an internet pollutant. They need to clean house and start over.

      • Gilligan's Cigar

        LOL, they always “fire” with the poor-kwality-ritin template email anyone who has the temerity to write in and resign. It’s almost like they can’t stomach letting anyone go without them leaving with the worst possible impression of the company. You have to wonder how much better DMS would be if it actually considered and acted on this feedback from disaffected writers. That’s what most professional organizations do with departing employees or contractors, usually in the form of exit interviews.

  • Complainer

    Just curious. When you have bad experiences with CEs, do you report them on the CE Feedback or CE Complaint forms? Not that it does any good, but who knows? If one CE, like those mentioned here, gets a lot of Feedback complaints, maybe it helps.

    • Demand No More

      No, the feedback form doesn’t work. Better to leave. Not worth the chump change they pay.

    • Complaining does not a whit of good. I provedto them that one particular P.I.A. was incompetent and that the things she asked me to add to my articles were flatly untrue, and they ignored me completely. I never tried again. I just left.

  • Fed Up

    I’m willing to add Kathryn Esplin/Kath Flinn to the list. Her rewrites give little guidance, her notes are often longer than my articles, and her feedback assumes she knows what the reader wants, even though writers are explicitly told to never assume what the reader wants or thinks. She seems to have little grasp of research (she considered a student thesis to be a bad source, even though theses and dissertations are collections of appropriate and up to date research) and thinks that you have to find a source that applies 100% to the topic at hand, rather than finding related research that has logical connections. I’m tired of doing rewrites for her.

    • Fed Up 2

      I couldn’t agree more about Kathryn Esplin/Kath Flinn/Kathy Flinn or whatever she’s calling herself today (it’s a huge red flag when a CE seems to being having an identity crises to the point that she changes her name several times in a matter of months).

      Kath Flinn recently asked me for a rewrite to include more places in my relationship date idea article — mind you, I already had eight listed, which is more than enough, according to the guidelines. I was finally sick of her unnecessary rewrite requests because she didn’t have a problem with the content, she just wanted me to add more ideas to a 500-word article in which I had already gone over the limit. She then suggested about four to six more ideas and proceeded to tell me what to write and how to write it.

      I wrote back in lengthy detail that her ideas were cliché and unoriginal, and that my ideas were unique, as requested in a recent email sent out by Eve, the chief editor. One of her comments asked me to include information that was already in the article, about one of the venues, which leads me to believe she can’t read, or at least, doesn’t bother before she starts commenting. One of her suggestions was inappropriate and I told her so in my rebuttal, stating that I will not include something inappropriate in an article that has my name on it.

      I thought for sure she would reject the article, which would’ve be fine for me because I would sell it somewhere else where I’d get twice as much for it because it was well-written. Instead, she approved the article and wrote-in all of her suggestions, including the inappropriate one and left it with my name on it — huge copyright infringement issue. She also wrote back a few snide remarks, in kind.

      So: I promptly submitted a CE complaint, a help desk complaint about Kath Flinn and contacted the error correction department. They removed the pieces she wrote (mainly the inappropriate resource) since I told them she was in violation of copyright infringement and that DM didn’t have my permission to publish the article with my name on it if they didn’t remove the information.

      Nothing ever came of the complaints I made about this CE, so I can’t tell you if she was ever reprimanded or had privileges removed, but I think they should remove her from the position of CE. If she wanted to write the article, then she should’ve taken it into her own queue; I’m not going to be told what to write and how to write it from someone who can’t read, spell or do the proper research before commenting on an article. All this woman knows how to do is add 8 hours of time onto a project that only requires 2 hours tops. I’m so fed up with Demand, it’s ridiculous.

  • Alex Lindley's Workin' It!

    Alex Lindley is not unemployed – he tells his fellow forum zombs that when it comes to editing articles for Demand, he has “a rabid desire to hit my limit every day.” There’s a guy with lots of options.

    • Miss Writer

      Alex Lindley went to some 4th-rate college (even by Alabama standards), and apparently DMS doesn’t know or doesn’t care that all of the “experience” he lists is only school work that he did at this no-name 50-student college. I’ve contested his rewrites – which were overturned, and I have also contested a rejection he gave me for failing to jump through his stupid hoops. It was also overturned. So now, he gives me the lowest scores he possibly can. Complaining doesn’t help. Another writer – who is also subject to Alex’s incompetence, said she actually contacted DMS to complain about him and see if there was any way he could stop being her editor, and she was told that was not possible.

      Marianne Chin, Lucy Roux, Lauren Pfau, and Sophia Devereux are also awful. When they click on an article, they already know what type of information they want to see, Whether it’s Careers for a Degree in (blank) or 4 Ways to Lose Weight, you have to use the 4 careers or 4 tips that they want. if you don’t, even if you have the research to support it, they will try to make you rewrite the article to reflect their personal tastes.

      DMS is 50/50. Half of the editors are good and half are bad. Fortunately, I’ve had rewrites and rejections overturned. Those editors learn to think twice before stupid rewrite requests or rejections when they see my name, so instead, they make unnecessary, subjective changes to the article so they can lower my score as much as possible.

  • Pamela

    Not a topic related point, but guess what? Writers haven’t been paid today! They’re all p.o.’d, needless to say, and the idiots in power offer no explanation. So everybody’s work for the past few days has now been published, and the writers worked for FREE!!! Never seen that on any other mill. Unfu$&$believable!

  • Oh Hells Yes

    Laurie Reeves is the Gilligan of Home Decor.

  • Jimmy McG

    adrian wilson

    ’nuff said

  • Benji

    I’d add Jason Gillikin to the list of clownish Demand CEs but we all know that already.

  • I'm Just Saying

    Hey, that picture resembles Alex Lindley! He is a horrible CE who cannot even bother to insert the commas or address the typos he inserts in the copy himself! I am no longer looking at the queue for articles. At this point, I am waiting on my 1099 to file my taxes and leaving DMS behind.

  • Some CEs need lives

    I’ve been thinking it would be a good idea to ID the unprofessional CEs. No need to give their home addresses or threaten them, but there are a number who are damaging the incomes of truly professional writers. With scores now an important factor for writers (ACE bonus, new channels, special projects), these CEs can’t have this much control over someone else’s income. While one score won’t hurt you, if you get the same asshole giving you five 3s in one month, you can be screwed. Demand won’t analyze CE scoring to see if a particular CE is out of line with the rest (in terms of rewrite rates and scores). Remember when the one CE came into the forums and said she sent back 80 percent of her articles, and Dirk Cable and PatM said that was there percentage? How can there not be an automatic flagging system? (It’s to protect CEs at all cost).

    To make a long point shorter, if you can complain about a restaurant, golf coach or pet sitter, why can’t we complain about so-called professional copy editors who sell their services as expert when they clearly are not? And especially when they are reducing the incomes of real writers.

    Maybe you can create a chart so that a CE doesn’t get bashed with one bad review, but CEs with multiple complaints get identified for potential future employers (they’ll probably get promoted at Demand).

  • Some CEs need lives

    Alex Lindley is an unemployed, er, “self-employed” hick from Alabama who believes he needs to send back rewrites for captions. He asks for rewrites for “enhanced content” rather than fixing errors. He loves to give low scores, even when he has no experience with the subject matter. This is a guy, who, if he could find work (he’s been “self-employed for 3.5 years now), wouldn’t have time to spend trolling the forums asking Careers writers to please submit articles for him to edit — and then send back for rewrites. He actually had the nerve to ask writers to submit articles when he had rewrites sitting (one writer asked why he was sitting on two of her rewrites). This guy is Gilliken Lite.

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