I hereby offer my services as a proofreader for any blogger or web developer. I am disgusted with the increase in typos, spelling and grammar errors, incorrect usage and general illiteracy on the Internet.
I blame much of this on the use of spell-check utilities as an alternative to proofreading. On a domain name auction site I was viewing this morning, the word ‘capitol’ was incorrectly used in place of ‘capital’. Clearly, spell-check is useless here, as the word is spelled correctly but it is the wrong word. What is needed here is a context-sensitive homonym checker. In other words, a human being. This occurred on a page trying to persuade me to list my domains with this company. I found it less than convincing.
My previous sentence reminds me of another common mistake of this same type. It seems many folks don’t know the difference between ‘then’ and ‘than’. The former is used to indicate a position in time while the latter compares two items. For example:
I read six blogs today, five of which were rife with errors, then I became ill.
I would rather be publicly flogged than write with such carelessness.
Again, spell-check will not help in this case. Some may think I’m being too fussy or trivial. Ask yourself two simple questions.
- Why do I publish on the Internet? The most common reasons include sharing experiences, communicating with friends and family, and conducting business. Much of this communication will be publicly visible for a very long time.
- Do I want to project the image of a lazy, careless person or even an idiot? Most will answer no, I hope. Your message is important, but clear, concise communication is the best means of conveying your message. Can you imagine someone offering to manage your marketing or public relations campaign when they can’t manage their own?
Because of the seemingly instant and informal nature of social media communication (email, Twitter, IM, texting, blog comments, etc.), it has become common to use conversational language with less strict usage. No one wants to labor over the best possible way to craft an instant message. I sometimes use ‘text speak’ when it seems appropriate. While I find “Where r u?” acceptable for a text message, it is not acceptable in a blog post (except when used as an example, as it is here).
A comment on a post in today’s reading included this gem: “There is no such thing as Failures-they are only Delays!” This should read, “There are no such things as failures – there are only delays ” or “There is no such thing as failure – there is only delay.”
Many people on the Internet today do not speak English as a first language. I can forgive such errors in this case, as I am monolingual and in no position to criticize. But I have actually asked some folks for their native language (I like to use Google Translate in an effort to communicate in someone’s native tongue), only to have the offended party exclaim, “Why, English, of course!”
Proper attribution of quotations is another pet peeve of mine. This often comes from a lack of reading of the classics. If I use the term, ‘Know thyself”, I assume the reader knows this should be attributed to Socrates, not to me. Although I sometimes use it in the biblical context of ‘to know’ for people of whom I’m less than fond .
I could peruse a few blogs and sites for additional examples, but I leave that to the reader. I will close here with this request: please proofread your writing before clicking the ‘submit’ button! And, for the love of all you hold dear, please teach your children to do the same. Maybe even have them read books that were published years ago, before people became dependent on spell-check. It was rare to find errors in published material when I was a child. Now, sadly, it is the rule rather than the exception.