Caveat Emptor: Let the Buyer Beware. Or: If It’s Free, You Get What You Pay For…


Source: Google Images/EClectEcon

Suckered Again

Lulled once again into a sense of ‘getting something for nothing,’ I happily clicked on a link to Alison dot com, sent by my job coach, to take a FREE online course in becoming a copyeditor. The course takes 2-3 hours and over 4,000 people have already taken the course (as if it adds credibility).

The catch? (Cuz you know there is one, there always is.) The course is free but you have to pay for the certification. Hmm. And when I try to find the fee for said certification, I’m sent back around to finish the course. No heads up as to what it’ll cost me in the end except precious time.


You Have to Pay to Play

They list the skills you’re going to learn from this basic course. There are more courses, of course, that teach increasing levels of skills and they do offer paid courses, though I’m not sure of the cost or quality of information because I can’t get there without paying first.

According to the website at, “a Copy Editor would typically need to:

  • Fact-check and edit the content of written text to ensure proper use of spelling, grammar, punctuation, syntax, and style guides

  • Be comfortable working with publishing systems and databases via the internet or from paper manuscripts

  • Edit news stories, job descriptions, manuscripts, emails, and internal documents, depending on the industry they work in

  • Manage a significantly more research-centric role, if employed in a technical field that requires specialized knowledge

  • Ensure the authors provide all necessary material and documentation; review the written content for style and organization; make minor corrections

  • Leave detailed feedback on organization, focus and tone for the original writer to make required changes

  • Be able to sub-edit text written by diverse authors to maintain a stable and coherent organizational style”

I can find this information in any basic copyediting book at the library or online. Nothing new here.

The narrator’s voice is female with a noticeable accent that is both British and (East) Indian and, British English is used (spelling is different in certain words). After listening to several sections, I realized it’s a computer-generated voice; pronunciation of certain words was definitely not of the human error kind (accent or emphasis on the wrong syllable or drawn out incorrectly, as AI tends to do). 

The following is a basic approach to guidelines when copyediting. See how they spell ‘summarising’? That’s British spelling and my computer keeps trying to change the second ‘s’ to a ‘z’ for American English (‘summarizing’).

editing techniques

The information isn’t all that spectacular; as I wrote above, this information can be easily found in books at most libraries or online. The Books for Dummies series has a great edition on copyediting and I would recommend that over this course – more information, more than just the basics. You can buy a used copy online at Amazon and don’t need to pay for a ‘certification’ for basic copyediting skills, which you already have as a writer, journalist, novelist, poet and such, and use daily.

edit tech2

You can read the screen above for the information layout. I think it’s a nice course to refresh your editing skills. I also believe that paying for the certification will NOT lead to job offers in copyediting. Only degrees in Journalism, Communications, and related fields and experience in writing and editing will get you a job (freelance or not).

After sitting through most of this free, ‘basic’ course, all I can say is “be careful what you wish for… you just might get it.”

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