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I want to help you write better... (afterthedeadline.com)
48 points by raffi on June 1, 2009 | hide | past | web | favorite | 29 comments



Yikes, you're making a fundamental mistake. A mistake that can destroy your business. What is a "request"? This is your mistake - it's not at all clear what your pricing involved.

You see, when I write, I spell check the document about 20-30 times. And your thing only allows 80 requests in a month. Is that a joke?

Explain what a request is, otherwise I look at the pricing page and shut it down, because it's totally overpriced. Now, if you you would say each article I write gets spellchecked for $0.063, no matter how many times I spellcheck it, then I would be fine with that. But everytime I spell check I pay that amount? Ridiculous!

And I think it's also a bit unclever how you did the pricing.

You should go like this: "Get your article professionally spellchecked for 7cents. That's all you pay". People don't pay per month, they just pay per article. However, the minimum amount they can put on their account is $5. You can't actually put 7 cents. And there should be no monthly recurring bill.


Thanks. I'll clarify this on the site. I arrived at the numbers using data I collected about the behavior of my beta users over the past 90 days. One of my users is a blog with eight writers on staff and they do nine requests/day. If the pricing is wrong, it'll change.


That's the mistake - maybe people actually only do 9 requests per article. But the think they do a lot more. I personally think I do about 1000 spell check requests a month, but I don't know because it's not something I've ever thought about.

So you may have very concrete data on actual usage, but have you also looked at what users think about your pricing?


Definitely! I'd easily need 500 checks a month, and to me that isn't worth $20/mo.


I'd also like to make this available to my users.

2,500 posts per day, some edited a few times.

That's averaging 76,041 unique posts being spell checked each month...

What realistic price should this be?

The demo works very well btw, I am impressed. It's the pricing you need to think about.

You might want to consider pricing that reflects the type of site... how would you charge HN for the service? There are enough users here who would benefit from it. Does it really costs you X to spell check? Could you lower the costs to achieve a faster growth?


It does soon ramp up, $1500+ month maybe? At that point, it could become worthwhile to just dedicate your own time to implement the feature. Not that I like the idea of that when this service seems to do the job well, but not many startups have $20k+ a year to spend on spell checking...or should I say, no sane startup would spend $20k/yr on spell checking!


I think you may have missed the service plans page: http://www.afterthedeadline.com/commercial.slp

The top plan is for an estimated 500 writers, with 50,000 requests/month, and costs $200.00. That's significantly lower than $1500/month.

Beyond that, seems like you can work out a licensing deal to host your own server. Problem solved.

It doesn't seem like a huge price to pay for a startup that relies of well-written material.


I just copied and pasted a blog post I was writing into this and it worked incredibly well, a few minor issues with the tinymce editor, and one or two naive suggestions. however it picked up a lot of good suggestions.


Great idea for a start up Raffi! I hope a lot of sites integrate your technology, because writing and grammar on the Internet is atrocious. My only fear is that people who don't bother to learn appropriate English are the same ones who wouldn't even both to fix mistakes. [Non-native speakers excluded of course]


I'm actually working on integrating this into my site right now because the writing of our users will affect our public credibility, so this type of tool is crucial. Thanks for all the amazing work raffi!


It annoyed me that the best suggestion was not at the top of the right-click menu. Most people don't like having to move their mouse more than needed. See picture for more clarification: http://dl.getdropbox.com/u/10047/atd.PNG

The style subsection demo retains a couple of errors after following the suggestions of ATD (though I guess if the person checking it is paying attention, they would notice and fix up the sentence).

The grammar subsection demo does not catch the missing hyphen in one-hit wonder (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/One-hit_wonder).

I'm loving it Raffi. I use it to check my HN posts.


AtD biases heavily against false positives. If it's too noisy, using it is more work than it's worth. I only flag a missing hyphen if P(WordB|WordA) > P(WordA-WordB).


Pasting in your welcome note, it misinterprets "have a fancy". But overall, it seems pretty good (e.g. it picks up a repeated "you you" in joel_feather's pricing comment, which I never would have seen).

I think this is pretty comparable to Word, and what you're really offering is that same functionality on a different platform viz. blogs.

It would be very cool if when explaining things like "passive voice", it gave an example of a revision of the specific text in question (instead of a random example). Of course, that's hard to do (approaching AI), so you'd probably get Eliza-like responses much of the time. And you only need to be comparable to Word anyway.


Who'se been a busy body then? After getting over my disappointment that you can't help me write better (I need to write more to achieve that) and realising that this is a WordPress-centric spell+style+grammar checker, I had a quick look around and liked what I saw. Looking good, well done and good luck.


This is not going to help you write better any more than naive grammar checkers will, many of which did things like check for passive voice. If you want to write better, check out William Zinsser's On Writing Well.


This statement seems unfair. I'll back up my claims:

1. I help you find errors in your writing. Despite the limitations of spellcheck and misused word detection they are still a valuable safety net to have.

2. The style checker is useful for helping you write better. Writers like to come up with massive lists of pet peeves. Memorizing these lists is too much for a human. After the Deadline automatically flags this stuff. It isn't the same as a human editor but it does help.

3. A good copy editor will flag and revise most cases of passive voice and hidden verbs. After the Deadline doesn't rewrite these for you but it does flag them. This is a useful service to call your attention to these things. See: http://jaffeerevises.com/Nominalizations.htm

4. After the Deadline explains your errors when you make them. When you write in passive voice you can click "explain" and learn what passive voice is. If you use the wrong indefinite article you can click explain and learn why it is wrong. I see these as teachable moments and by giving you snippets of grammar info when you need it, I am helping to make you a more aware writer.

BTW I recommend Write to the Point by Bill Stott. Will checker out Zinsser's work.


In case you missed it, (a very nastily formatted copy of) Orwell's Politics and the English Language is on HN's front page at the moment.


I love the poem in the "Detects Misused Words" demo, and it will appeal to early adopters. Good marketing. It doesn't pick up all the misused words (only about half), but that would be a big ask.


I remember when you showed us this on the #startups channel. I was impressed then and now I'm even more. Great work!!


Congrats Raffi - glad to see the progress since we talked on the train ride from TS4AD Boston.


Most web browsers already have spell checking.


This paragraph is from a NY Times article. Can you find the error in it?

Still Mr. Franken said the whole experience had been disconcerting. “It’s a weird thing: people are always asking me and Franni, ‘Are you okay?’ ” he said, referring to his wife. “As sort of life crises go, this is low on the totem poll. But it is weird, it’s a strange thing.”

Neither can the spell checker in your browser. Why? Because most spell checkers do not look at context. After the Deadline does.

Visit http://www.polishmywriting.com/nyt.html to see the answer.

Besides misused word detection (and contextual spell checking), After the Deadline checks grammar and style as well.


Besides the spelling mistake, is "As sort of life crises go" a valid expression? Should that read "As far as life crises go"?


I was thinking the same thing. In fact, it distracted me so much that I missed the "poll" mistake. :P


awesome example.


You're not done yet - it needs a comma after "still".

My sentence needs the period moved to the left a bit.


My sentence needs the period moved to the left a bit.

Not if you're English.


i tried "I be smart" and "Thus sucks" and nothing was underlined. Did i not read the directions properly?


Cool product idea, I suck at writing.




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