So, having been forewarned by the lovely Amber at the Mile Long Bookshelf in not only one but two separate posts about this website, I finally got an email from the somewhat infamous Nick at Grammarly. Quite frankly it took less time than I thought it would have. I have some thoughts about this myself and am going to share them here. They are just my personal opinions, but I still think it’s important to share them.
I admit, opening my emails after work today and finding a post from Nick as I shall call him from here on out entitled “Grammarly’s Blogging Partnership Program” just gave me more of a headache than I already had and it was a doozy to start with. My initial reaction was ‘Aw crap.’ But eventually curiosity prevailed and I opened the email. Although, at least this time he wasn’t creepy. No invitation for coffee if I ever found myself in San Francisco.
1. Books and writing – well, that does make sense since it’s a grammar checker and everything. But I highly doubt you actually read any of my reviews. If I had sent an email like this, I’d have included examples and since it’s a grammar site, I would maybe find a piece where the grammar could have used a bit of work and shown the difference this product/site could make to that post.
2. I’m not 100% sure which laws that apply to this in Australia but I’m pretty sure this is against our equivalent of the FTC laws in the US, much as Amber stated it was in both her previous posts. You have to say ‘I was given a free trial/limited time upgrade/etc’ in your review. Certainly any of the infomercials here have to specifiy they are using actors, if people have been paid for their reviews and so forth. It’s the same with reviews on beauty items, games, etc in magazines. As it is in most countries. Besides that, it’s fairly presumptuous to assume I even want a $20 Amazon gift card. Maybe I can’t get shipping from Amazon or the Kindle for PC program doesn’t work for me. (That is not true in either case though.)
3. This just got on my nerves. From how I read it, it seems as though he’s expecting me to fall at his feet (well email inbox at any rate) and say “Yes, give me access to the shiny grammar tools. Woo!” It reads as though he already has an account set up for me, and all I need is to give him the signal and he’ll make all my grammar dreams come true with a month’s subscription to the premium package. Well I’m not ready to take our relationship that far Nick. I barely know you. In fact, I don’t know you and having you set up an account for me for a service you can’t be 100% sure I will use is just weird. Not to mention pushy.
Those are my issues with the email. You might want to go get a cup of tea or coffee, and maybe a snack now. Let’s move onto Grammarly itself. I’m sure it’s a great tool. In fact to test it out I ran parts of this very post through the ‘try it out’ part. For all intents and purposes it works quite well. However, whilst Nick might be targeting book bloggers (or people who blog about books and writing), Grammarly are aiming it towarsd the everyday user. I think it would work quite well for people who are typing up important letters and documents and want to make sure that their grammar is appropriate.
I don’t know that too many university students (a market Grammarly appear to be targeting) would use it though, for two reasons. In my experience, and certainly your experience might be different, my lecturers cared more about the spelling, basic punctuation (ie. periods at the end of a sentence, quotation marks when citing a reference) and whether or not you were actually learning about that specific subject than they did about how corrrectly your sentences were structured. Granted my degree is a Bachelor of Commerce and not a Bachelor of English and the rules would be differnt there I imagine. Also my university had a specific plagiarism tool that we had to run all our assignments through before submitting them, so we could see if we had forgotten to credit a source and so that the teacher when they ran it through during grading could see how much of our assignments were quotes or references, etc.
I also don’t think it’s of benefit to a lot of book bloggers. I’ve seen every blogger I follow make spelling mistakes or accidently type the wrong word. Who really cares? Hell, I do it myself a lot, and I do try to pick myself up whenever I am writing a post, but you miss out on things. That’s kind of what makes book bloggers different to say someone posting on behalf of the New Yorks Times or something. We’re just normal people who like to chat about books and not too many of us care a great deal whether someone misplaces a comma, or spells something wrong (unless it’s the title/author and then you do them the courtesy of politely telling them), or using run-on sentences. I admit to being guilty on that last one an awful lot. It’s because I tend to blog in the same way I talk, which is to say without pausing for air.
So to sum it up. Grammarly seems to be a useful tool for what it is intended for. Nick comes off as being weird and pushy in his emails. Maybe Grammarly need to reconsider their policy when it comes to the $20 gift card deal. Even if it is a simple ”you must tell your readers you are getting something in return for the review”. Any book bloggers who gets an ARC or galley does this for those books anyway, and most of the beauty/lifestyle blogs I’ve seen state something along the lines of “I got this for free/at a discount/whatever in exchange for an honest review”.