Why such poor editing in Paizo products.


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Any idea why this is? I can’t believe the number of typos, misspellings and errors that make it to print. The pfs scenarios are particularly bad. I have no idea how the publishing business works but it seems like they need more/better proofreaders.


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Pathfinder Adventure Path, Rulebook, Starfinder Adventure Path, Starfinder Roleplaying Game, Starfinder Society Subscriber

If it's so easy why don't you do it.

My mom was an editor for medical reports, it isn't easy.


I can't say with absolute certainty, but I believe Paizo over the last few years has reached out to get freelance editors working on their products; I happen to know someone in that vein. That said, it's like always: the more you try to do, the more chances there are to make a mistake. Paizo's added Starfinder to their to-do list and only curtailed themselves a bit on other product lines. And like anything else, to quote a certain Starfleet engineer: 'The more you overhaul the plumbin', the easier it is to gum up the works.' The game gets more add-ons with every book. This makes it more complicated and thus harder to edit; you have to consult more previous material to see how the interactions go on. That takes time too. In the end, we might see the problem one way; they might see it as 'make the parts move, that's more important than if those parts are spelled correctly'. We'd have to ask them.


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I have to say, compared to many other game companies (I'm lookin at you, Fanpro) Paizo's editing is actually really good. The reality is, with the possible exception of WOTC, game companies are small and can't afford to spend tons of time making sure every word and puctuation mark is exactly perfect. They gotta get books out the door to keep the lights on.


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So long as the stat blocks are correct, Im nut to concern'd w/ teh ocasional selling errorr.


Bad speelers of the world UNTIE!

lol...
they're not that bad, I'd guesstimate about 1 in 5000 words in most material or higher in PFS boons. The submitted material should be perfect (spell checker) before it hits editing.
I would think the time devoted to review and edit a product depends on its product line. Core books like the CRB, Ultimate ___ would get more conference, edit, and review than Player Companion material, but that's just my perspective.
Opening up material to out-of-house review or peer review is subject to early reveals and leaks. That's happened a few times.

pogie - as you're concerned why don't you do a error count with error type and word count on several books so we can get a metric on what you're talking about.


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Pathfinder Adventure, Adventure Path Subscriber

I have to agree with the general sentiment; Paizo's error rate is very, very low given the material type.

I've done some editing and proofreading on some 3rd-party PFRPG material, and I can offer that it is incredibly tedious and difficult. The two main challenges are: contextual jargon, and layout.

In the first case, there are an awful lot of keywords and technical terms which have to be understood in-context in order to for misuse to be detected. It's not at all the same task as proofreading a novel. It's more than "does this read correctly", because much of PFRPG rules text will not read correctly. It's also a matter of recognizing that sentences that don't make sense in the real world do, or do not, make sense in the context of the rule they are expressing. Worse than all of that, you've got to read these broken sentences and identify if they are concise and unambiguous in-context. You want to head-off posts to the forum asking "what does this mean?" Not at all the same level task as confirming "it was a dark and stormy night" is acceptable.

In the second case, there's the markup side of things. Magic items and spell names are italicized. Feat names have their first letters capitalized. Pronouns are to be consistent within a class text to match the sex of the iconic for that class. There's certainly been drift over the years in terms of styleguides/presentation, but there are rules that are universal and have to be watched for while proofreading (if you're doing it right). Recognizing if "fly" should be italicized or not as you're proofreading means that you're parsing the text not only for grammatical accuracy, but for presentation accuracy. "This item allows the wearer to fly as if they had cast fly." Grammatically correct, but a proofreader has to really read the material to recognize the first instance of "fly" should not be italicized while the second must.

Paizo's not perfect, and I won't pretend I've dipped into PFS materials specifically to form my opinion, but in general... they do a very, very good job given the volume of material and number of hands involved.

In closing, it is very easy for a fifth set of eyes to spot the two or three errors that make it to print and complain, without being aware of the hundreds of errors that were spotted by the previous four sets of eyes during their dozens of hours of proofreading. It's like spam; you can complain about the one or two herbal ED medication messages that make it to you Inbox, but without the context that literally hundreds per day are rejected, that complaint is... inadequately informed.

Shadow Lodge

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pogie wrote:
I have no idea how the publishing business works ...

That was obvious.


The history of the tabletop roleplaying hobby has been the history of players overcoming ambiguous writing and iffy editing in order to have a good time with their friends. So it's not like some of us don't have decades of experience solving these sorts of problems on our own. At least with Paizo's stuff "how it's supposed to work" is generally pretty clear, so it's easy to fix with house rules.

Plus, I mean, we're writing games here that people play for fun, not corporate accounting software or satellite command and control framework. The failure modes in this space are not really that big a deal.


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Just because it's not easy is not a reason to not improve the editing. I'm overweight and in my 40s. Losing the weight and keeping it off is not as easy as it was in my 20s or 30s. That being said I still need to keep off the weight whether it's easy or not. It's not even poor editing so much as how often it keeps happening.


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PossibleCabbage wrote:

At least with Paizo's stuff "how it's supposed to work" is generally pretty clear...

No it isn't. There is a forum here devoted to discussing rules ambiguity. FAQs are inconsistent. Table variation discourages players from taking part in PFS. Official rulings are buried under years of posts. Contradictory rules have been published in different books.

They could benefit from a good technical writer or two, to be honest.

Quote:


Plus, I mean, we're writing games here that people play for fun, not corporate accounting software or satellite command and control framework. The failure modes in this space are not really that big a deal.

You pay money for it and therefore desire a quality product. Don't be an apologist.


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TOZ wrote:
pogie wrote:
I have no idea how the publishing business works ...
That was obvious.

And yet you felt the need to comment....

Above, Anguish made a good post but given the time spent on proofing that he indicates happens there still seems to be more mistakes than I would expect. Layout, spelling etc don’t really bother me. It’s when I have to guess what the authors intent was that bugs me. NE corner labeled as NW, incorrect references, maps labeled wrong etc.

The general consensus seems to be that my expectations are too high and I’m willing to leave it at that.


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The Thing From Another World wrote:
Just because it's not easy is not a reason to not improve the editing.

That's exactly the reason to not improve the editing. It's a matter of diminishing returns. In the first editing pass, it's easy to eliminate the vast majority of mistakes. In the second editing pass, it's reasonable to eliminate the vast majority of what made it through the first pass. By the third or fourth (or more) passes, it's become very difficult to eliminate the stubborn and subtle mistakes that have made it past several sets of eyes. Spending time and money on the last tenth of a tenth of a percent of errors is wasteful.

I'm supportive of a lot of things that Paizo could do that involve "throw money at it". For instance eliminating the shipping peanuts. I'd pay more per order to select "no satanic peanuts". But I wouldn't spend anything further on another proofreading pass because the quality as-is is very good.

Quote:
I'm overweight and in my 40s. Losing the weight and keeping it off is not as easy as it was in my 20s or 30s. That being said I still need to keep off the weight whether it's easy or not.

Different situation. One is a quality-of-life issue, and the other is a typo.

Quote:
It's not even poor editing so much as how often it keeps happening.

Now we've got a logic flaw. If Paizo stopped creating new material, sure, I'd expect a decade later all the editing issues to have been perfected. But that's not what they do. You're suggesting a datacenter/server-farm with "five nines" uptime that has 25.9 seconds of down-time in January shouldn't see that "keep happening" in February, March, and beyond. Sorry, but as long as new months keep happening, 99.999% uptime means you should see another nearly 30 seconds of downtime - on average - every month.

Shadow Lodge

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pogie wrote:
And yet you felt the need to comment....

How else do I pad my postcount?

Grand Lodge

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pogie wrote:
The general consensus seems to be that my expectations are too high and I’m willing to leave it at that.

I wouldn't say they are too high. We all have high expectations of the material, customer and author alike. The reality is that there will be errors, and how much is too much can be a very subjective thing.


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pogie wrote:
It’s when I have to guess what the authors intent was that bugs me. NE corner labeled as NW, incorrect references, maps labeled wrong etc.

Oh. That's... a bit different, but I might be able to offer some insight there.

With this stuff, there's another two problems. Development is the big one. As a book progresses, it goes though a lot of change. There's less and less change each pass, but sometimes fairly large changes happen late in the development of a book, and it has nasty trickle-down effects. Paragraphs might get removed due to word-count issues once layout is finalizing, art might move around due to layout issues, tables might get added before, or after designers re-work some troublesome rules. It's kind of chaotic, and once you've mostly locked down (for instance) page references, if a last-minute change moves a graphic, it's possible nobody remembers there was a page reference for that particular image. This is totally a case of a mistake being made.

Second, this kind of mistake happens late in the development stage, after multiple editing/proofreading passes have been made. I can offer you that reading a manuscript the third time is hard. Really hard. Because you start skimming. It's natural. You've read it twice already... you KNOW what it says, and you KNOW it's right, because you've read it before.

One more pass by a completely different set of eyes might catch this sort of thing. That's reasonable, but honestly again is a case of diminishing returns just because it's all down to the fine-toothed-comb. By that point, the proofreader isn't going to have typos jump out at them... they've got to be basically loading the whole book into their head to notice that the description has this wall of text about how gloomy and atmospheric and creepy and stylistic and awesome the room is, but it references a door that isn't on the same wall as the map shows. Tricky.

So anyway, I hear you. I just want you to know that the little bit that slips through the cracks isn't because Paizo doesn't care, or doesn't try, but because the materials they produce are damned hard to get perfect. They're more like textbooks than anything else, and if you take a look at those, you will very, very often see "thirteenth edition", and I'll tell you... it's not the actual content that's usually changing. It's the footnotes referencing wrong pages, tables that don't match content, and similar.


Anguish wrote:


I'm supportive of a lot of things that Paizo could do that involve "throw money at it". For instance eliminating the shipping peanuts. I'd pay more per order to select "no satanic peanuts". But I wouldn't spend anything further on another proofreading pass because the quality as-is is very good.

I rather they spend more effort on proofreading and trying to find errors. Sure for the most part the quality is good. That sure as hell to me at least not a very good reason for them to not improve editing. The Shadowrun 5E book is considered one of the better editions of the rpgs. It's also poorly edited, information is all over the place and it hinders rather than helps to learn the rpg. Sure maybe if a person played SR for years they can get by. It's a turn off for new fans. It's not just their core that has editing issues. At least 5-6 books have the same issue. Guess what the company is known for not for a great new edition of SR. More as the company who can't properly edit their books. Did I mention they also had binding issues with the core book.

I agree it's not a easy thing to but it's get hard to give them a free pass on bad editing when smaller rpg companies with less people and resources do a better job editing their books. I can live with the static filled shipping peanuts if the rules are clear, concise and edited properly.


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The Thing From Another World wrote:
improve editing.

So. For discussion's sake, how "good" is "good enough"? Improve, improve, improve, sure, but what's the percentage accuracy at which you'd agree that it's appropriate to stop improving the percentage?

Let's give a real-life example. Last week I did some travel and it was unpleasant. 24 consecutive hours combined spent in aircraft and airports, for a total of 5 hours of airflight. On top of that, my bag and I got separated, it ending up one flight behind me.

I'm sure that out of the hundreds of thousands of bags per day/month/year, there's a percentage of them that get mis-routed. I don't know the number, and it's easy for me to call for improvement. But... despite the emotionally draining weekend, I'm rational. And I know that while I'm positive the current percentage could be improved upon, I also know that there would be a measurable cost in creating that improvement. I know that any percentage failure other than 0% by definition leaves room for improvement. But what about when they get down to one bag per ten million? Or one bag per hundred million? What astronomical cost would be involved in getting rid of that last statistically insignificant error? Would it be "worth it?" What if it means flights would need to cost ten times what they do? A hundred?

So when we play the comparison game, saying "they should do better", or "it should be improved", rationally we need to define a cost-benefit threshold.

Let's make up numbers. Let's imagine there are five typos/spelling-mistakes/incorrect-labels per 32 pages Paizo prints. Let's imagine one more editing pass might get rid of three of those, on average, and requires an additional editor on staff. That editor of course would spend a day or two per book, filling their monthly duties. That's another staff member at whatever normal wages are. Is that improved enough, or are those two remaining errors still offensive? Is it time to hire two more editors to eliminate one of those two remaining errorts? Or do we need to hire five more after those two, for a total of eight new full-time employees, bringing the error count below one per 32 pages (but not zero)? How many tens of thousands of salary dollars per year should Paizo spend to be "better"?

I don't mean this to be snarky. Honest. Because in my example, I'd say that I'd be willing to spend as much as $5 a package to eliminate peanuts. I can define and measure what I'd sacrifice for my better.

So again, given that this isn't a process than can be automated and handed over the machines to introduce precision, what is the errors-per-32-pages you'd consider acceptable, and what cost are you willing to pay for that rate?


Kitty Catoblepas wrote:
You pay money for it and therefore desire a quality product. Don't be an apologist.

But here's the thing-

As long as they fix it (through FAQs or errata), someone else fixes it (through PFS campaign clarifications or on one of the SRDs) or I can fix it myself, I really don't care.

From where I sit, the text in the book I bought is really nothing more than a series of suggestions for how to implement whatever the book is talking about. So, like with any suggestion, I'm free to ignore, alter, amend, etc. it so that it works better for me. I have never encountered a roleplaying game that I would consider playable *as written* so that's not how I play them.

I mean, I own cookbooks that literally have typos or missing steps/ingredients in recipes. So if a recipe fails because the amount of something was wrong, or they skipped a step, or whatever thing that should have been caught in an editing pass, it's up to me to figure out how to make it work. The book does not assert "here is the one true way to make falafel" it's "here is a way you can make falafel." Sometimes the cookbook is wrong, and the falafel you make falls apart when you cook it, so you have to consult what you know or other recipes to figure out what went wrong and how you can fix it. It's much the same with roleplaying game products.

Dark Archive

Why such poor editing in all written products?

There I fixed it for you, there is nothing specific to RPGs or Paizo about your query editing is hard. Getting distracted about the relative merits of editing in this line or that line misses the important point that people complain about editing in all genres.


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I play and read a great deal of Shadowrun.

Paizo has good editing.

Is it perfect editing? No. Of course not. Nothing ever is. But the editing job is quite good. Especially if you go look at some games that actually have bad editing.

Oh, White Wolf. You incomprehensible barrage of stream-of-consciousness edgy purple prose, you.


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Omnius wrote:
Oh, White Wolf. You incomprehensible barrage of stream-of-consciousness edgy purple prose, you.

It took me forever to find Page XX, but they printed it in the second edition Malkavian Clanbook..

Silver Crusade

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Omnius wrote:

I play and read a great deal of Shadowrun.

Paizo has good editing.

Is it perfect editing? No. Of course not. Nothing ever is. But the editing job is quite good. Especially if you go look at some games that actually have bad editing.

Oh, White Wolf. You incomprehensible barrage of stream-of-consciousness edgy purple prose, you.

Most Pathfinder/D&D players never venture outside their Str/Dex/Cha bubble and thus don't have much stuff they could compare to, sadly.


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I learned how to write and edit on the Paizo boards, so if I'm doing it wrong you only have yourselves to blame.


Again I'm not saying it has to be perfect yet no one here so far as given any real good compelling argument for bad editing imo. Or that they can't improved. If we get more poor editing I can live it with. I don't have to be happy about it or praise the company for it. A real life example a bakery in my area prided itself on making fresh bread. Costs went up and they began taking bread they had baked for example today freezing it then selling it tomorrow as fresh bread.

Warming it up in the oven in the hopes of it no one would notice. The problem is because it's been already baked they could not warm up the bread too much. So the outside was soft warm the center was cold and wet. I think they had the misguided idea that the bread would thaw out and dry out naturally over time.

People began to notice. I ignored it once, twice then I told my parents. The also noticed something was off. When they confronted the baker and his wife about it at the shop they became angry and very passive aggressive. Their excuse and a poor one it was and still is "it's more expensive to bake bread". My dad god rest his soul never minced words "I'm supposed to be sold old bread at full price because it's more expensive for you to bake it". I'm cleaning it up a bit because it was more heated than that. Both my parents and myself agreed were not buying from them anymore.

They slowly went out of business they ruined their own reputations. Customers don't appreciate being screwed over by a business owner and they sure as hell don't like it when instead of being apologetic getting rude when they get caught being cheap.

Note I'm don't count Paizo as the above. Unlike the bakery above the do fix it with errata. I hold many rpg companies to the same standard in that regard.


Anguish wrote:


I don't mean this to be snarky.

You actually do but I'm not taking offence because I see that your defending the company and passionate about it. While being more diplomatic than most about it on this forum.


captain yesterday wrote:
I learned how to write and edit on the Paizo boards, so if I'm doing it wrong you only have yourselves to blame.

You're right to blame us. We're the worst. THE WORST! *melodramatically dissonant organ chord*


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The Thing From Another World wrote:
no one here so far as given any real good compelling argument for bad editing imo.

Oh. I get it now. This is the thing where one person makes an assertion, someone or someones else spend a bunch of their personal time to provide information, context, and detail to the topic, then the original person ignores all of it and simply complains "nobody is answering me". Oh.

The Thing From Another World wrote:
You actually do but I'm not taking offence because I see that your defending the company and passionate about it. While being more diplomatic than most about it on this forum.

And... we're done here. I'll be pleased to discuss some other topic some other thread some other day with you but I can tell here and now and you is just going to be bad for my blood-pressure. Telling people what they're thinking kind of... irks them, see?


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We are having a disagreement on a topic that's all. You're telling me poor editing cannot be avoided in a product. I'm saying it can. We can leave it at that.

Grand Lodge

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As far as content goes Paizo write some really amazing, well detailed and compelling adventures. A typo or spelling mistake is like a fart in a tornado.


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The Thing From Another World wrote:
We are having a disagreement on a topic that's all. YourYou're telling me poor editing cannot be avoided in a product. I'm saying it can. We can leave it at that.


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mic drop right there.


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The Thing From Another World wrote:


I agree it's not a easy thing to but it's get hard to give them a free pass on bad editing when smaller rpg companies with less people and resources do a better job editing their books. I can live with the static filled shipping peanuts if the rules are clear, concise and edited properly.

Fewer people and less resources...


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The Thing From Another World wrote:

We are having a disagreement on a topic that's all. You're telling me poor editing cannot be avoided in a product. I'm saying it can. We can leave it at that.

No, what people are telling you is that there is a level of time and therefore money that is cost effective in an industry like RPG books produced by people who aren't owned by HASBRO and a level of time and therefore money that is not cost effective in that industry.

Are you willing to tack say, 4-5 bucks onto the cost of everything Paizo puts out in order to hire the full time editor to catch these things and absorb the cost of errors at he printing company?

Silver Crusade

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Also, some people are disagreeing with your claim (which you have not justified, only asserted) that there is poor editing in Paizo products.


The tabletop RPG market isn't huge, and the money in it isn't amazing. A lot of the writing is done by people who get paid peanuts and do it for the love of the game, and hiring tends to be very localised - most companies seem to be mostly or entirely people not just from one area but who know each other outside the game. This means the talent pool isn't broad, which means it probably isn't deep. Sorry to anyone offended by me there.

Expecting the same level of editing & proofreading as you get in technical writing or a good novel is unrealistic IMO.


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pogie wrote:
I can’t believe the number of typos, misspellings and errors that make it to print. The pfs scenarios are particularly bad.

I'd be interested in your information about other companies. What is their error rate per 100 pages or 1,000 words? What data did you use to compare Paizo error rates with other gaming company error rates?

Perhaps a close look at the processes that other companies use to keep their error rates below that of Paizo would allow you to make concrete suggestions about how those processes could be used at Paizo.

Or perhaps not. Something tells me you're making wild claims without any data or facts to back them up.


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CrystalSeas wrote:
pogie wrote:
I can’t believe the number of typos, misspellings and errors that make it to print. The pfs scenarios are particularly bad.

I'd be interested in your information about other companies. What is their error rate per 100 pages or 1,000 words? What data did you use to compare Paizo error rates with other gaming company error rates?

Perhaps a close look at the processes that other companies use to keep their error rates below that of Paizo would allow you to make concrete suggestions about how those processes could be used at Paizo.

Or perhaps not. Something tells me you're making wild claims without any data or facts to back them up.

On a forum?!? surely this would never happen


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pogie wrote:
Any idea why this is? I can’t believe the number of typos, misspellings and errors that make it to print. The pfs scenarios are particularly bad. I have no idea how the publishing business works but it seems like they need more/better proofreaders.

I think it's a useful insight to realise that although it is counter-intuitive, "existence of errors" is not necessarily an indication of "poor editing". You need to see the errors before the editing process and after it to really judge how good that process is - you also need to know what the source of the error is (some of them will no doubt be beyond the editors' control).

If your question is really "why are there as many typos as there are", I think the answer is that a Pathfinder book is typically a complicated, technical work that's full of jargon, outsourced art-pieces and has frequent cross-referencing. It's produced on a tight timeline with limited resources.

Given those constraints (I've probably missed some), the way to reduce the error rate is to reduce the complexity, reduce the amount of art, stop cross-referencing as much within the text, slow down production or increase the resources available to produce the book.

I don't have any special insight into Paizo's figures, but I suspect there are good reasons they can't do any of those things - although perhaps the shift in schedules they've recently implemented is a strategy to help reduce the incident of error.

Post-Edit: Typically, Anguish said it better. Read their posts - they obviously have both understanding and experience in the field.

Grand Lodge

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Ryan Freire wrote:
CrystalSeas wrote:
pogie wrote:
I can’t believe the number of typos, misspellings and errors that make it to print. The pfs scenarios are particularly bad.

I'd be interested in your information about other companies. What is their error rate per 100 pages or 1,000 words? What data did you use to compare Paizo error rates with other gaming company error rates?

Perhaps a close look at the processes that other companies use to keep their error rates below that of Paizo would allow you to make concrete suggestions about how those processes could be used at Paizo.

Or perhaps not. Something tells me you're making wild claims without any data or facts to back them up.

On a forum?!? surely this would never happen

It's true the government of the internet made it illegal.:)


I have apologized to Anguish personally. I don't like editing errors. They happen and they will not stop my purchases of Paizo products. And yes I'm willing to pay 4-6 dollars more if it means less errors.


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The Thing From Another World wrote:
I don't like editing errors. They happen and they will not stop my purchases of Paizo products. And yes I'm willing to pay 4-6 dollars more if it means less errors.

FEWER errors

If you're going to be offended by errors, at least make a small attempt to correct your own. Repeatedly making the same error, while complaining about how easy it would be for Paizo to correct theirs is not helping your argument.

If you can't recognize simple errors after they have been pointed out to you, how can we trust that you're able to recognize errors in Paizo products?


Typical of this forum. Some can't handle criticism of any kind concerning Paizo and resorting to personal ad homein attacks. Color me surprised.


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The Thing From Another World wrote:
Typical of this forum. Some can't handle criticism of any kind concerning Paizo and resorting to personal ad homein attacks. Color me surprised.

No one likes a pedant. Color me surprised


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I like pendants.

The more the better.


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The Thing From Another World wrote:
Typical of this forum. Some can't handle criticism of any kind concerning Paizo and resorting to personal ad homein attacks. Color me surprised.

Your argument seems to be that, without any data or evidence, we should rely on your expertise to back up the claim that Paizo products are poorly edited.

The expertise you demonstrate isn't very high. Do you have some data that could help convince us?

Otherwise, it isn't an argument, it's just another clash of belief systems about how things ought to be and what "paradise" would look like.


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Pepe, Murderhobo Professionnel wrote:

I like pendants.

The more the better.

I pity the fool who doesn't like pendants.


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Pendants shouldn't be thrown in glass houses


What’s all this now?

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