Would you trust these proofreading companies?

23 03 2017

I’ve written before on the subject of so-called ‘predatory’ journals – essentially unscrupulous or even downright fake open access publishing companies that will pretty much publish anything if you are willing to pay for it. I quite often get emails from these companies asking me to submit my “eminent research” in some completely random field, or even trying to recruit me as a reviewer or Associate Editor.

Recently, a new – and I suspect not unrelated – form of spam has started hitting my inbox: companies offering me their proofreading services.

As an academic editor and proofreader myself, I’m hardly ever likely to want to use someone else’s services, so I tried unsubscribing from these emails (not that I had ever subscribed in the first place, of course!). Unfortunately, this seemed to have the opposite desired effect: instead of removing me from a mailing list, I seemed to get added to it again, such that I started to get multiple emails per day from the same companies!

I also started noticing patterns. The first batch of emails I received was from a company called Cognoscenti. But then I started getting very similar emails from another company called Swift Proofreading… then Donnish… then SpringerEdit. In fact, to date, I have received spam from so-called proofreading companies going by eight different names! (Skip to the end to see the full list, plus some others I’ve discovered!)

Now, I’ve never used any of these companies, and I don’t know anyone who has, so who am I to say they are not legitimate? All I ask is that if you are considering using one of these companies, just read the following and make up your own mind as to whether you think you can trust them… (And if you decide you can’t, why not drop me an email! 😉 )

Here are a few things that definitely do not add up: 

  • All of these companies use a pretty much identical website theme.
  • Several of them have used almost exactly the same blurb on their home pages:
    • “Swift Proofreaders is one of the leading online editing and proofreading firms. Our company’s primary objective is to provide users with swift, proficient, and affordable editing and proofreading services.”
    • “Phoenix Proofreading is one of the leading online editing and proofreading firms. Our company’s primary objective is to provide users with professional, proficient, and affordable editing and proofreading services.”
    • “Donnish Proofreaders is one of the world’s leading online editing and proofreading companies. Our company’s primary objective is to provide clients with prompt, professional, and affordable editing and proofreading services.”
    • “Cognoscenti is one of the leading online editing and proofreading firms. Our company’s primary objective is to provide users with professional, proficient, and affordable editing and proofreading services.”
  • Given that these are supposedly proofreading companies that claim “error-free work”, some of them have some suspiciously bad spelling and grammar, e.g.:
    • “Manuscript must be submitted in the Ms-Word document.”
    • “Donnish Proofreaders offers moderate charges, as it also depends on the volume of your research work in question.”
    • “Savant Proofreading give your manuscript the attention they deserve.”
  • Most of these companies do not list their editors. OK, they don’t have to, but of those that do, the names all seem suspiciously generic and I have not been able to verify a single one.

Who Is it?

Oh and hey, you know what else is interesting? Despite the fact that the spam I get from these companies all indicates that they are based in the USA, UK or Canada, a quick Who Is check reveals that the domains were in fact all registered by one of two people: a Clinton Clarke, or an Erumevwa Ebenezer, both from the same town… in Nigeria.

What’s more, SpringerEdit (do you think genuine publishing giant Springer might have something to say about that name?) and Cognoscenti, which were both registered by Ebenezer, are associated with the email address, “swiftjournals@gmail.com”. Swift Proofreading, registered by Clarke, is associated with another of his websites called – you’ve guessed it – Swift Journals (and there’s that familiar looking site template again…). A Google search on the Swift Journals Gmail address reveals that Ebenezer is associated with 17 different domain names (including some I’ve already mentioned, and some that no longer exist), all with a common proofreading or publishing theme.

What about Mr Clarke? A Google search on his email address reveals that he is associated with over 100 different domains! Some of these have already been mentioned, others hint at similar proofreading or publishing services, but others include names suggesting pay day loans, courier services, and one has a domain name very similar to that of a global banking corporation, which flags up a “Dangerous” phishing warning if you try to go to the URL…

Decide for yourselves…

Here is a list of domains associated with “proofreading companies” I have found (so far!) that all fit this pattern. There may be others! All of these are associated with “publishing companies” with the same names, too. Let me know if you come across any others!

How to spot an AirBnb scam

2 03 2017

Given my previous research into fakers and scammers on freelancing platforms, I’m almost ashamed to admit that I very, very nearly fell for a scam myself recently! This time, however, it was on the holiday apartment rental site AirBnb.

What is AirBnb?

airbnb_logo_belo-svgAirBnb was founded by some cash-strapped tech guys from San Francisco who started renting out an air mattress on the floor of their apartment to delegates attending Silicon Valley congresses. They built a platform to allow others to do the same, and the idea grew to something akin to a paid-for version of Couchsurfing, where you can rent spare rooms and second homes. Now, allegedly, AirBnb is the world’s largest accommodation booking site, and it’s increasingly used by short-term lettings agencies as well as the more traditional AirBnb ‘hosts’.

I’ve used AirBnb loads of times, and have had a fantastic experience each and every time. My husband and I have been hosted by an Emirati property developer in Dubai and an airline pilot in Gothenburg, rented a harbourside apartment in Nice and a casita in the Texan desert. I’ve used AirBnb for business trips, whether alone in a 1-bedroom apartment near to the Minneapolis Convention Centre, or with colleagues in a villa with private pool in Brazil. Most recently, and closer to home, my husband and I and 4 friends rented a beautiful apartment together for a weekend city break in Bath.



This amazing Barcelona AirBnb for 6 people, with roof terrace and private pool, can be yours, but it’ll cost you over £400 a night, not £300…

Fresh from that trip to Bath, myself and the same group of friends are now looking into taking a mini-break in Barcelona – and since we all enjoyed our previous AirBnb experiences, why wouldn’t we do it again?

We found this apartment: https://www.airbnb.co.uk/rooms/1025760 – a stunning 3/4 bedroom duplex with a private pool and roof terrace hosted by a lettings agency called Valencia Luxury. Alas, it was much more expensive than any of us wanted to pay.

But hang on, what’s this!? The same apartment, listed by someone called “Sofie“, for over £100 per night cheaper? https://www.airbnb.co.uk/rooms/14373796 (NB: these links have been reported and may now be inactive.)

We did think it was a little strange that the same apartment would be listed twice at two completely different prices, but having never had a bad experience with AirBnb before, I trusted the site and wondered if perhaps the same apartment was managed by more than one lettings agency. Also, sometimes larger apartments are listed more than once if the hosts rent out the rooms separately, as well an entire place.

Sofie’s listing, the cheaper of the two, contained an email address and requested that anyone interested in booking should contact this email to check availability. My friend did so, and received a prompt and friendly reply asking us to send a contact name, address and phone number, as well as a copy of a piece of photographic ID and a utility bill so as to receive “pre-approval” for the property via AirBnb. They then provided lots of helpful information about how, once pre-approved, the payment process would take place through AirBnb’s secure payment system.

Since I have an AirBnb discount voucher to spend and lots of positive reviews on my AirBnb account, my friend passed over communication with the host to me. I had actually drafted an email in reply, and was just looking for a utility bill to scan when my husband came home and said, “Er, is it such a good idea to send all that personal information over email? Why do they want a utility bill?!”

Dodged a bullet


FYI, it is forbidden to include contact details in AirBnb listings or AirBnb messages. Click to enlarge and notice that the email address provided here has spaces in it to stop it being automatically detected and removed.

I instantly felt very stupid! I have a verified AirBnb account, which means that when I submit a booking request through the AirBnb website or app, the host can be assured that I have already provided verified contact details and ID – there should have been no need to send all this information in advance, especially not via email. However, still not quite ready to believe that we were being scammed, I sent a message to “Sofie” via the AirBnb message system, confirming our dates and asking her to pre-approve us that way. Funnily enough, I have not yet heard anything from her.

In the meantime, I did some research. Using a Google reverse image search on one of the AirBnb photos, I discovered that the apartment we were interested in is also listed on Valencia Luxury’s own website. Valencia Luxury seems to be a reputable outfit, with hundreds of positive reviews going back several years, a fully verified AirBnb account, and a 100% response rate to AirBnb messages.

Conversely, ‘Sofie’s’ listing gave almost no information about the apartment, other than the same photos as the Valencia Luxury listing, an email address to contact and the message, “PLEASE do not book before you contact me! All the bookings made without prior contact will be canceled!” It also had no reviews.


Sofie’s profile was conspicuous in its emptiness…

On checking the Who Is record for the domain name of the email address (rent17.eu, FYI – a blank website), I discovered it was only registered in January 2017 by someone known only by a Gmail address (A John Greenwood, not a Sofie). Sofie’s AirBnb profile was only established in August 2016, gave no biography or information, was not fully verified, and she had a dismal 42% message response rate.


I messaged Valencia Luxury and they advised me that they are the legitimate owners of the apartment. The other listing, not authorised by them, is indeed part of a scam.

Scam research

Searching online for details of other AirBnb scams, to my surprise (though I’m not sure why it was a surprise!) I found that lots of people have had similar experiences. Here are a few examples reported in The GuardianThe Huffington Post, and this one in The Telegraph, which also concerned an apartment in Barcelona!

A common thread running through these stories was that, in each case, the host and guest had been in contact by email. Sometimes, as in our case, the host specified an email address on the AirBnb listing (which I now know is completely against AirBnb’s terms of service), but sometimes the correspondence was initiated through the AirBnb site, with the host later claiming that the message platform wasn’t working so the conversation continued by email.

Phishing for info

But, in her email to us, why did “Sofie” take the trouble to explain that payment would be conducted via the AirBnb system and harp on about how secure it was? Because, if we had provided the information she requested (which, in itself would give plenty of ammo to use for identity theft!), the likelihood is that we would have been “pre-approved” via an email purporting to be from AirBnb but with a subtly altered email address. That phishing email would then link to a fake website to process payment….which would not have gone to AirBnb, or secured our reservation on the apartment, it would have just vanished from my bank account never to be seen again.

How to spot an AirBnb scam

I have loved using AirBnb and this experience won’t put me off using the site, but I will be far, far more careful in future! Here are my top tips for how to spot an AirBnb scam.

  1. NEVER EVER contact an AirBnb host via email. ALWAYS use the on-site or in-app messaging system. It can be confusing because if you receive a message via the official platform, you do also receive that message via text and/or email, and you can reply directly to the platform via those emails as well. However, scammers often use fake email addresses that are subtly different from the official AirBnb ones. To be on the safe side, always access and reply to your messages from within your logged-in AirBnb profile, and never click on links in emails – they could redirect you to a very convincing phishing site. Furthermore, it is against AirBnb’s terms of service for the host or the guest to provide their contact details (including email addresses, phone numbers, Skype usernames) before a booking is confirmed, so if a host asks you to email before this stage, it’s definitely dodgy.
  2. Check out the host’s reviews. Of course, there are genuine hosts who don’t have any reviews yet simply because they are new, but for the novice AirBnb user, the safest thing is to choose a host who has some history, e.g. positive reviews and a verified account. Better still, some experienced hosts are even awarded “Superhost” status, meaning that they are fully verified and vetted and have received consistently excellent reviews.
  3. Check out the host’s profile. Most AirBnb user profiles have a completed biography section in which they tell you about themselves. In our case, “Sofie’s” biography was completely blank. This can indicate a new host who hasn’t filled out their profile yet, but I would argue that if they are serious about listing their place, they should take the time to give you some information. As I’ve found out with freelancing platforms, scammers are often repeat offenders, so if one profile gets closed down, they’ll simply open a new one. Tracking scammers can become a bit like a game of digital whack-a-mole. Check when the profile was created and if it’s very new, has no or a very brief biography, and no reviews, proceed with caution.
  4. Check out the host’s response rate and response time. The “The Host” section on a given AirBnb listing will tell you their response rate to AirBnb messages. In our case, Valencia Luxury’s response rate was 100%, and their response time “within an hour”. Sofie’s, on the other hand, was a dismal 42% within “a few days or more”. Clearly she doesn’t like AirBnb’s paper trail…
  5. Use Google Reverse Image Search. This is a trick I’ve used a lot to find out whether freelancers’ profile photos are likely to be genuine. Right-click on a photo of the apartment listed on AirBnb. If you’re using Google Chrome, there is an option to directly “Search Google for this image”. If you’re not on Chrome, right-click and select “Copy image URL” (or your browser’s equivalent wording). Then, go to www.google.com/images, click the camera icon on the search bar and paste the URL. Google searches its indexed pages for websites using this image. It doesn’t always return results, but when I did this, I found the apartment listed on Valencia Luxury’s own website, so I knew that *that* listing was the real one. You can also use this trick on the host’s profile picture. Again, it doesn’t always return results, but when I’ve done this with Freelancer profiles, I’ve found that (for example) “Bob Smith’s” photo was actually pinched from “Dave Jones'” Facebook profile, or that it’s stolen from some random website.
  6. Be suspicious and ask questions. If, as in our case, you find two similar listings by two different hosts, message both hosts (through AirBnb, of course) and ask them to explain. Apartments can be listed more than once if rooms are rented out separately, and hosts who own similar apartments within the same building do sometimes use the same, or very similar photos to list different properties. However, whole apartments should not appear on AirBnb more than once. When you think about it, it doesn’t even make sense to do this if genuine – why have two listings with an average number of reviews, when you could have one awesome listing with lots of reviews?

Anyway, I hope this blog post is helpful! If you have any other tips then please leave a comment below!

Does Spelling and Grammar Matter?

8 06 2013
From fangsandclause.wordpress.com

Does spelling and grammar matter? I think so!

It truly baffles me that so many employers on freelance bidding sites such as Freelancer, Elance and People Per Hour are willing to accept substandard writing for their website projects. The number of people paying a paltry few pounds or dollars for article rewriting, article spinning, or even original articles for, at most, $4 per 500 words, is – to me – unbelievable.

Of course, I know what’s going on here: pay-per-click advertising on the cheap. Done well, niche websites and article bases provide a very useful service to people who are genuinely looking for quality information on a certain topic – in fact, I’m writing some health articles for an article base-style website right now. Often however, niche sites are dumped full of cheap, badly written, keyword-rich content that serves little or no use to the poor visitor who has been duped into accessing the site because of a high pagerank. If even a very few of these visitors click an ad from time to time, it can make the site profitable, which is all the owners care about.


What is even more incomprehensible to me is the number of people wanting copy-editors or proofreaders, who choose providers who clearly, from their bids, have a substandard level of English. But again, cost wins over quality: experienced and qualified proofreaders are relatively expensive – the UK’s Society for Editors and Proofreaders recommends a minimum hourly rate of £21.40, whereas non-native English speakers, and even unqualified, inexperienced native English speakers, offer their ‘services’ for well, well below the going rate.

I just don’t get it. If you want someone to write a high quality, error-free article, or to check and correct work for spelling, grammar and punctuation, then WHY ON EARTH would you hire someone who was clearly incapable just because they were cheap!? It’s like asking a chef to build you a house, or going to see a hairdresser for a health check – sure, they could have a go, but would they do a good job? Not likely. If you open a project asking for a copywriter, for example, and you get a very cheap bid from someone who says, “I am experiencing about WRITING task. In your Pm, I give some document which I worked in the past…. If, you think I am the right person for this please assign me now. You won’t be looser” (an example of a GENUINE bid, by the way!), for god’s sake don’t hire them! No offence is intended to anyone from any nationality, it’s simply a case of choosing the right person for the job and getting what you pay for.

Just because someone has a British, American or Canadian (etc.) flag next to their Freelancer profile, it doesn’t automatically mean that they have the skills to do a good job – and the tell-tale sign of inexperience or poor quality is often, though not always, the low price that they are willing to be paid. Equally, if someone is from a non-native English speaking country, it doesn’t mean that they aren’t a good editor, but for goodness sake employers, you need to do a background check! (As an aside, just because someone has a flag of any nationality on their Freelancer profile doesn’t necessarily mean that they are actually from that country, but that’s a blog post for another time…)

So, before I started tearing my hair out and wondering why on earth I bother even being a member of these freelance bidding sites (the jury’s still out…), I was pleased to find encouragement and reassurance from two sources this week. Firstly, I remembered that  I’d posted a poll on survey website Panelbase in which I posed the question, “Does spelling and grammar matter in this day and age?”. Logging into my account for the first time in ages, I was pleased to note that almost 500 people have now responded to this poll, with a staggering 80% agreeing that yes, spelling and grammar always matters. In addition, a further 17% felt that spelling and grammar matters, but it depends on the situation. Phew, it’s not just me then!

The second thing that encouraged me was this YouTube video from Google, which I found whilst browsing the Editorial Training blog. Although Google do not currently include spelling and grammar as a parameter for calculating pagerank, there is a clear trend for lower quality writing on lower ranked pages. In other words, poorly written websites, regardless of keywords or content, don’t do as well in Google rankings as good quality, well written websites, so if you want your website to succeed, you would do well to invest in a good quality writer and/or editor to improve your prospects.

If you are interested in hiring an experienced, high quality writer and/or an exceptional copy-editor and proofreader, click this way…

Work in progress!

19 03 2011

Dear visitors and subscribers,

I’m planning some changes here on my blog and I’m just writing to let you know that you might experience some disruption while visiting lisaamartin.wordpress.com over the next week or so.

Thanks to the huge success of my posts about Freelancer.com and freelancing in general, the focus of my blog has diverged somewhat. It originally started as a place for me to showcase my freelance portfolio, and as a place where people who wanted to hire me could find me online. I still want to maintain both my general freelancing and portfolio posts, but I think the time has come to separate these two quite different aims into two blogs.

Because the URL to this blog is on all my business cards, stationery and contracts, lisaamartin.wordpress.com will become my portfolio blog. It’s kind of annoying to have to do it that way around, since a lot of my traffic comes from the general freelancing posts, but since the majority of that traffic comes from random searches, I hope that the new blog will quickly build it’s own traffic. The new blog, by the way, will eventually be at freelancerlisa.wordpress.com. There’s not much to see there yet, but if you’re a subscriber to this site for my posts about freelancing, I suggest you head over there and sign up for emails to make sure you’re kept in loop about the forthcoming changes and eventual switchover!

If anyone has an idea for a better name for my new freelancing blog, please comment with your ideas!

2010 in review

4 01 2011

The stats helper monkeys at WordPress.com mulled over how this blog did in 2010, and here’s a high level summary of its overall blog health:

Healthy blog!

The Blog-Health-o-Meter™ reads Wow.

Crunchy numbers

Featured image

The average container ship can carry about 4,500 containers. This blog was viewed about 14,000 times in 2010. If each view were a shipping container, your blog would have filled about 3 fully loaded ships.


In 2010, there were 99 new posts, growing the total archive of this blog to 114 posts. There were 55 pictures uploaded, taking up a total of 19mb. That’s about a picture per week.

The busiest day of the year was November 18th with 153 views. The most popular post that day was The trouble with Freelancer.com.

Where did they come from?

The top referring sites in 2010 were facebook.com, twitter.com, hubpages.com, digg.com, and google.com.

Some visitors came searching, mostly for freelancer.com scam, freelancer.com review, is freelancer.com a scam, freelancer.com complaints, and freelancer.com reviews.

Attractions in 2010

These are the posts and pages that got the most views in 2010.


The trouble with Freelancer.com February 2010


Freelancer.com: How to Spot Spam, Scams and Shams May 2010


The Trouble With Freelancer.com: Part II March 2010


FAQ: Is Freelancer.com a scam? (Part 1) October 2010


About Me December 2009

Do spelling and grammar matter on social media sites?

15 12 2010

In answering this question, I’m referring specifically to corporate profile pages and communications via sites like Facebook. Though I’ll confess poor spelling and grammar always bugs me (something to which my long-suffering boyfriend will attest), I’m not in any way suggesting that my friends and family should take an English language course before being allowed to update their statuses or comment on my photos. To a certain extent, my attitude is relaxed when considering Twitter in this argument too, since the very fact that you can only write 140 characters per tweet often necessitates the use of “txt spk” in order to fit your point into the required character count.

My editorial eye seems naturally drawn to spelling mistakes, typographical errors, use of the wrong words, word repetition and poor grammar. I can’t help but notice. Sometimes, while reading The Times (a frequent culprit), in a throwback to my days as a school teacher, I’ll circle the mistakes in red pen; I’ve yet to go so far as to send the edited article back from whence it came, but perhaps I ought. I’m sure I’m not the only one who thinks it’s a crime for published media to contain errors, especially those institutions like the aforementioned Times who portray a professional image and, after all, whose business it is to make sense.

But what of social media? Anyone who’s anyone has a Facebook profile, and more and more businesses are cottoning on to the fact that they can meet their clients on a social, more informal level and create opportunities for interaction, rather than just stuffing leaflets through our doors or sending emails to our inboxes and hoping we’ll read them. Facebook is cool, and creating a social media buzz about a product, a company or a campaign is hot right now.

A friend living in Ireland, who clearly feels the same way as I do on this issue, posted a screenshot of this to his Facebook page today:

Be the Difference” is a campaign being run by the Irish branch of O2, one of the UK’s biggest mobile phone and communications networks, to promote their involvement in sponsoring Irish rugby. As my friend pointed out, it helps if you read it in an Irish accent (“we taught we’d help you out!”), but going by the numerous other errors in this short advertorial piece, I’m not convinced it’s meant to be that humorous!

Is it OK to let mistakes like this slip just because it’s on Facebook? I have no doubt that O2 and other large companies have proof readers and editors cast a final glance over their TV, billboard and magazine ads, so why not their social media ads too? Or, to cut out an extra step in the process (because clearly the up-to-the-minute nature of social media marketing means that a large volume of material is generated on a daily basis), why not hire marketeers that can spell and use grammar correctly in the first place? Perhaps there is an argument that most people won’t notice; that Average Joe can’t spell so why should it matter? I strongly contest this. To my mind, correct spelling, grammar and use of the English language – especially in corporate communications – demonstrates professionalism, shows that a company is intelligent and that it knows what it’s talking about. Of course, having a great product or service that people actually want is crucial, but so is the way that that product or service – and the company as a whole – is portrayed to the consumer. Excepting deliberate use of poor grammar and spelling for humorous intent, sloppy standards and dumbing down don’t work for me, I’m afraid.

No place for racism here!

11 12 2010

I am quivering with rage as I write this, but I feel I have to share.

I have just trashed a comment that was left on my blog (on this post) that contained some of the most disgusting, racist filth I have ever read. I’m not going to re-post the entire comment (which is now safely marked as spam and permanently deleted anyway) because the terms and language used were extraordinarily offensive, but the gist of “HindusOutOfUSA’s” comment was that we shouldn’t outsource to Indians, “and if Obama had any sense” – India would be destroyed, “along with Pakistan and Afghanistan”.

Please, please, forgive me for using the F-word on what is otherwise a well-written and professional blog, but WHO THE FUCK DOES THIS IDIOT THINK HE IS?

I honestly and sincerely hope that no reader of this blog thinks that I am racist, or that at any point in any of my posts about Freelancer.com or freelancing in general I have ever insinuated that I am anti-India or incited such disturbed opinion. I’m completely aghast and very much saddened at the thought that someone felt that my blog was the right platform to air their hateful views.

What I have done on this blog is express my frustration, as a Western freelancer, of competing with low-wage workers on platforms such as Freelancer.com, but c’est la vie. The job marketplace is global, especially for remote freelance work, and it’s a fact of life that companies will outsource to where they can get equivalent quality for a cheaper price. My strategy, therefore, is not to sell myself short and compete with my rivals on price – to do so would be unsustainable. Instead, I hope to persuade potential clients that I’m worth paying more for in terms of quality.

I have also expressed disdain for Western companies that are unprepared to pay a fair wage to any freelancer, let alone those in already low-wage countries. Somewhere along the line the emphasis has been put on the “free” in “freelancer” and employers seem to think that we should be grateful to receive a pitiful few dollars for lengthy pieces of work. I am mindful of the fact that people in India and other Asian countries do have lower costs of living and therefore the average wage is remarkably lower than here in the UK, but I would urge all companies who outsource or are thinking of outsourcing to reward high quality with just wages and find the best people for the job, regardless of where they are located. The cost benefits of employing freelancers should come from the fact that you are not responsible for paying employee’s tax, that you do not need to provide them with any equipment, office space or facilities, that you’re not obliged to stump up for holiday pay, sick pay or social security, and that you can employ us for only as long as you need us – not from the fact that we will put up with paltry hourly rates. We won’t.

I digress. “HindusOutOfUSA”, by the way, attempted to justify his xenophobia by giving the example of poor customer service when contacting outsourced call centres; “Have you ever suffered when calling Bellsouth’s customer service and some Hindu girl with heavy accent was just repeating sentences from a script and couldn’t help you with your actual problem?” he asked. Dude, if you can’t understand the accent, try opening your goddamn ears and listening for a change, and if indeed Bellsouth’s customer services team are unable to help you with your queries (which, of course, I am sure you presented in a polite and respectful manner…), the fault lies not with the individual Indian staff, but with the poor quality of training provided by your blessed American company.

Of course, “HindusOutOfUSA” was too cowardly to provide a real email address when he posted his comment (my expletive-filled personal reply to him immediately bounced back),but if anyone cleverer than me with regard to things like this can tell me how to find out who this cretin is so that he can be reported and prosecuted for inciting racial hatred, I’d be very interested to know. For anyone else thinking of plastering my site with racial hatred – don’t. All such comments will be deleted and reported.


18 11 2010

In case you were wondering why some of your usually smooth-top-lipped friends are currently sporting (or trying to sport!) a moustache, the answer is very simple: Movember. The Prostate Cancer Charity, together with the Everyman Campaign to stamp out prostate and testicular cancer, have hijacked the month formerly known as November to “change the face of men’s health” by raising awareness of male cancers and health issues, and to fund research into these life-threatening diseases.

Movember has happened every November since 2004 and has been incredibly popular in Australia, where the Aussie cricket team have championed the cause for a number of years, but it’s only just starting to make waves here in the UK. This year, Kevin Pietersen and a handful of UK celebrities including Ricky Wilson from the Kaiser Chiefs and Chris Wolstenholme from the band Muse are donating their face to this worthwhile charity.

The prostate is a gland that produces prostatic fluid, a liquid that mixes with sperm to nourish it and help it on its way to fertilisation. Prostate cancer, where the DNA in the cells of the prostate gland becomes mutated and causes the cells to grow into a tumour, is the most common male cancer in the UK. Approximately 36,000 new diagnoses of prostate cancer are made every year, with an estimated quarter of a million men living with the disease right now. Because the prostate is located inside the body, it’s hard to tell if  it has become cancerous, so while, in theory, simple removal of the prostate can cure the disease, it’s often too late and the cancer has spread by the time it is discovered.

It’s essential, therefore, that a cure is found for this often fatal condition but because it deals with, y’know, man’s bits, people don’t often like to talk about it. That’s where Movember comes in. It’s like wearing a pink ribbon to show support for breast cancer research charities, but the ribbon is on your face (and in my boyfriend Tom’s case, it’s ginger, not pink)!

Speaking of Tom he’s currently midway through Movember, where the aim is to start the month clean shaven and cultivate your mo’ as the month mo-gresses. He’s going for a White-Goodman-from-Dodgeball half-handlebar look, which as a proud mo’ sista, I think really captures the essense of Movember! You can check his mo-gress, and maybe even sponsor him here.

Happy birthday to me!

6 11 2010

Happy birthday to me, happy birthday to me!

Actually, it’s not *my* birthday (that was in September – remember that next year! :)), rather it’s my blog’s 1st anniversary and hopefully, by the end of today I will have had 10,000 site hits!! In the grand scheme of things I guess 10,000 hits isn’t a huge number, but I don’t think it’s too bad considering I have made almost zero effort to market my blog other than posting the odd link on Twitter or to my friends on Facebook!

I decided to start a blog this time last year because my boyfriend had started one (his blog’s here, by the way) and I was not to be outdone. Well that was part of the reason. Having tentatively just started out on my adventures in freelancing I figured blogging would be a good way to get some writing practice in, and if – IF – I should ever get anything published, I could build up a kind of portfolio. Check my portfolio now! I owe a lot of site traffic to my posts about Freelancer.com, but hopefully some of you read my other stuff too. If not, please do have a look!

Though I now work full time for BioMed Central, I run Lisa Martin Freelance around this job and am available for all kinds of writing and editing projects. My main area of interest is biomedical science, and I particularly enjoy writing scientific press releases, scientific articles and web copy, copyediting and proof reading scientific research manuscripts, theses and dissertations. However I am also a great writer and editor for all kinds of subjects and it would be my pleasure to help you with copywriting, copyediting, proof reading, press release and blurb writing, and even writing résumés. At the moment I’m writing copy for an online marketing company and a debt collection firm, blogging at LogoBee and Ecolicious Foods (as well as here, of course!), writing press releases, moderating the BMC Blog and co-editing BioMed Central’s staff magazine, as well as other projects that happen to come my way. I’m certainly busy, but I love what I do, so if it sounds like I can help you in any way, please do get in touch! 🙂

BDR Jets Netball Team

4 11 2010

Back row L-R: Lou, Gemma, Katie, Becky, Andrea, Bev, Julie. Middle row L-R: Sue, Beki, Michelle, Me, Debbie. Front row L-R: Shannon, Meg, Lesley.

I realise that this post is a little out of character for my blog – it’s about neither science nor freelancing, but, well, my netball team is in the local newspaper and I helped to edit the article. So there.

Here’s the article in the Alcester Chronicle: Efforts pay off for netball team

I joined the BDR Jets this summer, just after I moved from London to Warwickshire. I was looking to meet some new people, have fun and maybe try and get a little bit fitter too, and the Jets promised all three. I hadn’t played netball since I was at school (and even then only in PE lessons, which were really just shooting practice for a county-level classmate), in fact I was more of a hockey player, but most of the ladies sports teams in my new area seemed very serious and competitive. I just wanted somewhere non-threatening and comfortable, where I didn’t feel ridiculous about being completely pants. I found the Jets through a tiny ad on Alcester.co.uk (incidentally, I am also advertised on there as a freelancer ;)) and the rest is history.

The BDR Jets train every Tuesday evening and we play in the Stratford Winter Netball League every Sunday morning. We haven’t won a single game yet, but we don;t mind too much. What we lack in skill we more than make up for in our awesome purple and black kit (proudly sponsored by BDR Voice & Data Solutions of Stratford on Avon).

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