The premier virtual office for copyeditors is a comparatively low-tech option: the email list known as Copyediting-L. It’s never silent, with many active members and many more occasional users. It even has a cookbook.
A typical day on the email list sees discussion on perhaps 10 different topic with dozens of emails. For those who like a clean inbox, busy days on CE-L can present a real challenge. The list does have a digest option where subscribers can read all the conversations in one file once a day, but the real pleasure comes in the back and forth discussions, sometimes involving an innocuous topic. A weekend question about whether CalTech should be written out as California Institute of Technology or the California Institute of Technology evolved into a discussion about when we use the and when we don’t, with eight responses and a pertinent link to Language Log.
Some topics go on for days, with dozens of responses. Some might say ad nauseam, but it’s a list of copyeditors, so expect everyone to have an opinion. The advice includes many usage issues, but topics are labeled for easier sorting in an email program. I have all my Copyediting-L files go to their own inbox folders to cut down on the clutter. The business category covers such things as tax advice, job pricing, and tales of woe about billing. The tools topic covers software questions and programs, devices, and resources to make our jobs easier. Job-op helps connect list members with job opportunities.
The names here are familiar in the copyediting community: Katharine O’Moore-Klopf, Amy Einsohn, Ruth Thaler-Carter, Erin Brenner, Cassie Tuttle, Dick Margulis. There are many other regular contributors and still more who pop in only when a topic particularly interests them. Lori Paximadis sends out daily birthday greetings.
A bit of a language has developed. Participants are sometimes CELmates, members of the CELery, or stalks, with a celery stalk developed as the group logo.
The list, started in 1992 by Carol Roberts, has been managed since the late 1990s by Bill Blinn and Jane Lyle. After one of them accepts your subscription to the list, most of the interaction is automated. It’s not difficult, but it is a computer program, so a careful look at the guidelines and instructions at the Copyediting-L website will save much grief.
The website also has a short list of resources, a long list of participating freelance editors, and links to a Cafe Press shop (where that cookbook is available) and an album of list-member photos.