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Yes, I think a lot of the time newer entrants like Relay base their approaches on what works in other industries (“may I see your portfolio”) or on how other freelancers are hired (it is perfectly expected for freelance writers to have samples they can share) and not on what is expected traditionally from editors/freelance editors.
Sometimes companies like this also default to what’s easy: it’s easier to ask the freelancer to scramble around trying to scrounge up a sample than it is to devise an edit test that would show whether the freelancer has the needed skills or to vet background in such a way that they know they’re making a good hire.
Mary, I think your solution is perfect. As long as you’re transparent about the source of the material you’ve edited, no one can possibly complain!