If you’ve been around for a couple of years, you might remember when I talked about Grammarly. My review of the service was that it wasn’t worth the price, though my girlfriend at the time (who teaches college level English) gave it a much more scathing review:
I would NOT recommend such a program for my students or my school for a bunch of reasons. First, I can’t see the quality of the feedback provided. If I can’t see an actual sample, I wouldn’t ever endorse its use. Period.
Second, the program appears to give A LOT of commentary on work, as if quantity indicates quality. Students need help not only finding problems but also PRIORITIZING them. An omitted Oxford comma is a stylistic choice; pervasive run-on sentences are a much more pressing issue.
Third, this program should be used ONLY under the guidance of competent real-live writing teachers. But admini$trator$ will see $12 a month as a wonderfully cheap way to get a new “teacher”; they’ll get what they pay for. And without guidance as to HOW to use the comments, students may think that a properly edited piece of writing is GOOD, that the correctness somehow proves their content is okay. However, editing isn’t revision. If I could give students grades based solely on where they placed their commas, my job would be much simpler and grading much more efficient.
There’s a body of research out there, and more being conducted all the time, about computer-assisted writing assessment on products such as Criterion and My Access, which purport to assess content as well as correctness. Do they work? Finding of most researchers indicate, in short, that they don’t.
Now, I’m back to grading. And not only for the commas.
But aside from the quality of the service, I also took exception with their scammy PR tactics, where they (under the guidance of Nick Baron) tried to essentially bribe me and other bloggers to get positive linkbacks and reviews, and then trying to get people to take down their negative reactions to said tactics.
That was four years ago. You’d think they would learn, right?
Karen Hertzberg, Grammarly’s current “content specialist”, sent me this e-mail today:
Karen from Grammarly’s team here with a
quick request. We’re working on cleaning up our backlink profile, and
part of that process involves removing certain links pointing to our
site. Would you help us out by removing the Grammarly hyperlink on the
Understand that we’re not questioning
your website’s quality; we’re just doing all we can to comply with
Google’s Webmaster Guidelines. I’d be grateful if you’d email me to let
me know when the link has been removed.Thanks in advance for your help!
So once again, Grammarly is wanting folks to take down negative reviews (and reminders about their history of scammy promotion tactics). But rather than being straightforward about it, they’re claiming it’s because of Google’s Webmaster Guidelines.
Maybe – just MAYBE – they’ve hired a new PR person who is going back and undoing the damage that was done. But considering that my response was as follows:
Are you kidding me? Oh man, going about trying to get a negative
article about you removed by pretending it is just complying with
Google…oh wow.Hell, you’re gonna get another link now, detailing this conversation.
You’d expect that they’d respond with a clarification that they were trying to walk the straight and narrow now instead of… well, silence.
So maybe Grammarly is trying to go back and remove all the scammy and spammy backlinks they generated years ago. But if so, they’re going about it in a particularly tone-deaf way.