Will Kibin’s Quick, Cheap Online Editing Services Replace In-House Editors?

August 23, 2011

12:30 pm

As a full-time editor, I’m acutely aware that the world is in desperate need of editing, from typos on companies’ About pages and press releases, to hastily written term papers. Kibin, which recently survived demo day at 500 Startups, prides itself on its community of editors intent on correcting these pesky mistakes.

“I view it as this big pool of your friends and peers who want to edit stuff,” says cofounder Travis Biziorek. I counted over 400 editors on the site, led by Biziorek himself with 251 reviews.

Peer editors were exactly what Biziorek lacked when applying to law school and crafting his “dreaded” personal statement. Online editing services were too expensive, so he swapped papers with another law school applicant. Biziorek ended up with a better application and a startup idea that enticed him away from the ivory tower.

Thanks to the momentum of Kibin’s “crazy” experience at 500 Startups, frustrated applicants like Biziorek can now submit their writing to Kibin and receive edits in a day. You pay for editing with credits—new users start with 25 for free—and you earn credits by spilling red ink yourself or inviting friends to the site. I submitted my layman’s guide to Bitcoin as a sample and requested that an editor–preferably with a business background–keep an eye on vocabulary and structure. A set of impressive edits arrived in about 9 hours: while I didn’t agree with them all, they included several thoughtful word changes and sentence reorganizations.

Biziorek sees the community of real-life writers and editors as Kibin’s biggest asset. With many other solutions—including MIT’s innovative Soylent, which uses crowdsourcing to suggest edits in real-time—“you don’t know who’s on the other side,” he says.

While the credit system may foster community, it also creates less-than-ideal incentives: poor writers looking for free editing can simply do a rough edit to earn some credits. Kibin has built in a few mechanisms to keep quality high: edits are checked by an administrator, and unhappy customers are entitled to a refund. Editors also receive ratings from authors, which will become even more meaningful when Kibin rolls out a new feature: writers-in-need will be able to send their fledgling pieces only to experienced Kibin editors, and even to particular individuals.

Beyond that, Kibin is planning to cultivate niche editing services by experts, for documents like dissertations and e-books—similar to competitor Essay Edge.

Lucky for me, Kibin is not poised to replace traditional, detail-obsessed editors, but they will make the world a more grammatical place.

Kibin is hiring a front-end developer and social media/community manager. For more information, contact [email protected].

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Kira M. Newman is a Tech Cocktail writer interested in the harsh reality of entrepreneurship, work-life balance, and psychology. She is the founder of The Year of Happy and has been traveling around the world interviewing entrepreneurs in Asia, Europe, and North America since 2011. Follow her @kiramnewman or contact [email protected]

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