One need not read much online, or drive around much, or read many ads, to see how much opportunity there is for volunteer proofreading.

No one will pay to have small proofreading jobs done. Nothing for it but to get used to that reality. In a smart world, every restaurant would have a proofreader on call. His or her job would be to review their ads, new menus, and so on. In the case of immigrant restaurants, especially so. But we don’t live in a smart world, and in many cases the immigrants write better English than the native speakers anyway.

What it means is that volunteer proofreaders have a chance to make a difference. The number one trait for a proofreader is fascist attention to detail, where the proofreader is so eager to find mistakes that if s/he finds none, s/he will assume that s/he missed a bunch, was phoning it in, and must do it all over once more.

As an editor, I always tell my clients that they still need to have my work proofread. I mention that I will contrive my very best to make that proofreader’s job miserable (defined as finding too few errors to fix), but that it still needs doing, and that I can’t take money to do it. To proofread well, I must see the material for the very first time when I sit down to proof it.

The first recipient of my volunteer proofreading services is a fan site for my alma mater’s sports teams. That was an easy one. We all love UW; we all want to see the school and its teams portrayed in the best way. The reporters who cover the sports are volunteers one and all, hard workers who arrive with a love of the school and a given sport, donating their time so that the rest of us can stay connected when the hometown newspaper has lost relevance. We are all on the same side. They sometimes need my help to bring their writing nearer to the standard I expect from those who did time on Montlake. It was stupid to keep rolling my eyes when I had the opportunity to take a hand, and help out my fellow Dawgs.

This may be the way the pro bono aspect of my work goes, moving forward. I would like that.

While we are here, I want to wish all of the ‘Lancer’s faithful followers a Happy New Year. May you all prosper, kick bad habits, begin positive new ones, and avoid traffic tickets.


2 thoughts on “Volunteering”

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