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Callout: bad typing is no excuse for mockery.
December 11, 2001 6:49 PM   Subscribe

Mocking a typo is just childish. Would you guys please quit. No wonder there's so much anxiety about posting to the front page around here. Here's a gem of an insult:

I don't see why you'd wait until now to start laughing at science. You obviously laughed off English 101 without a sweat. -phalkin
posted by skallas to Etiquette/Policy at 6:49 PM (47 comments total)

If some of the posters in that thread want to yuk it up with typos may I recommend usenet or fark? I don't think there's any place for that kind of thing here.
posted by skallas at 6:52 PM on December 11, 2001


Word!
posted by Optamystic at 6:55 PM on December 11, 2001


Agreed.
posted by gd779 at 6:58 PM on December 11, 2001


I hit that thread earlier and was pretty intrigued by the article, then pretty thrown off by the comments. It's too bad. It was a great article and would have made great fodder for discussion, but it's now over.

That being said, while I don't have a problem with typos in posts, I do expect some kind of formatting. Case in point (my admittedly snarky comment).
posted by eyeballkid at 7:11 PM on December 11, 2001


Can I throw in a word for the other side here? Formatting matters, and spelling is included in that. The spelling and general mistakes on that post were so bad I had to read it a couple times before I got what it meant to say. I mean, he mangled what should have been a cut-n-paste quote from the article.

The comments may have gone overboard, but sometimes people need to be reminded that MeFi isn't email. And all that aside, there's a goddamn Spell Check button. I mean... really.

Course, it seems the Spell Check button doesn't work for me. Oh joy, it's in Javascript. Thank god for javascript. What ever would we do without it. Well, never mind the last paragraph then. Still, it's the front page. Some basic proofing is warranted. If mockery is the price for skipping that step, I say so be it.
posted by rusty at 7:23 PM on December 11, 2001


eyeballkid: It was a great article and would have made great fodder for discussion

By who? All the physicists that hang out on MeFi? I majored in physics for two years of college, and I have nothing to say about it. It's interesting, but no matter how accessable the BBC tries to make it, I guarantee that pretty much no one here really understands what a Higgs Boson is. Or would have been, or whatever.

The one or two physicists who might read this: I didn't mean you. Please share your knowlege. :-)
posted by rusty at 7:27 PM on December 11, 2001


Cheers to skallas for using my obvious typos as a basis for a better discussion.
posted by joshua at 7:32 PM on December 11, 2001


Some basic proofing is warranted. If mockery is the price for skipping that step, I say so be it.

Thats exactly the problem, mockery gets you nothing and makes this place look like a toilet. You got a problem with the site or with a user try email or metatalk, not smart-ass comments.
posted by skallas at 7:34 PM on December 11, 2001


my obvious typos

That's why we're provided with a preview window...
posted by rushmc at 7:36 PM on December 11, 2001


the typos are bad, but the comments are worse. I honestly don't know why anyone would think ridiculing spelling mistakes is funny. I mean, sure, they're regrettable, but making fun of them just makes you look like an ass, and makes the entire site look bad.

Whatever.

P.S. rushmc, re: "troubling", yeah, as far as the scientific method goes, nothing troubling at all. Just troubling in that it goes to show we really don't know a lot of this stuff with very much certainty. Anyway, I was mainly trying to help move the thread out of its funk.
posted by mattpfeff at 8:14 PM on December 11, 2001


I can't believe there are people here that are actually defending jumping all over the guy for a stupid typo.

Bad enough that one person points it out. I mean there's always one pedant who'll leap to laugh at somebody's accident (or lazy lack of consideration for not checking their work before hitting post if you want to pretend it really matters all that much). But, with so many people doing it in a poor attempt at humor, it's like overcompensating for not having anything to say about the story. I'd equate it with bullies who jump all over the poor little foreign guy because he talks funny.

It is beneath MetaFilter. Of all the things we don't need, it's comments like that. They're worse the multiple Onion posts if only because meta discussion belongs in MetaTalk.
posted by willnot at 8:15 PM on December 11, 2001


By who? All the physicists that hang out on MeFi? I majored in physics for two years of college, and I have nothing to say about it. It's interesting, but no matter how accessable the BBC tries to make it, I guarantee that pretty much no one here really understands what a Higgs Boson is. Or would have been, or whatever.

On the other hand, ~everyone has a good grasp on the world political situation.~

Just because a link is to something that you don't understand, don't think other people understand, or don't find interesting, doesn't mean that appropriate behavior includes silliness. Silliness begets silliness (including comments on typos), both in the link and inside the thread. If you think the link doesn't explain things well, find a link that does a better job.
posted by iceberg273 at 8:20 PM on December 11, 2001


I think it's the most interesting link I've seen here in weeks. Or rather, it could be, if we could actually discuss the substance of the link and not the poster's typing ability.
posted by Optamystic at 8:32 PM on December 11, 2001


By who? All the physicists that hang out on MeFi?

I'm sorry. I didn't realize that MeFi users fit into a specific profile. I thought that this site had a pretty broad range of (mostly) intelligent user types who would take to a discussion like that merely to learn more about the topic either from user comments or links provided by other users.

Maybe I'll just go on over to Kuro.... oh, wait. Mebbe not.
posted by eyeballkid at 9:23 PM on December 11, 2001


Damn, can I retract the end of my last comment? That was just lame.

posted by eyeballkid at 9:25 PM on December 11, 2001


I'm not defending the mocking comments concerning spelling, but I think it might be possible that it was the "laughing" comment Joshua made that put people in a fighting mood. It was probably harmless, but it might have struck some as off-putting.

Not that attacking someone's spelling was an appropriate response.
posted by Doug at 10:10 PM on December 11, 2001


I think it's the most interesting link I've seen here in weeks. Or rather, it could be, if we could actually discuss the substance of the link and not the poster's typing ability.


So thanks to vacapinta and iceberg273 for providing some great links and comments for this non-scientist, and saving the thread from typo abuse and a generic "creationism" debate.
posted by liam at 10:16 PM on December 11, 2001


A typo (typographical error) is an error resulting from pressing the wrong key (or some other mechanical or motor problem). Typos typically happen when you are in a great hurry or great drunk. I think they're excusable; few people are perfect typists and teetotalers.

A misspelling is an error resulting from pressing the intended keys but intending the wrong keys. Spelling errors happen when you can't spell and, though you may have all evening to write three short sentences good enough to ask 10,000 people to read, you refuse to click the fucking Spell Check button.
posted by pracowity at 11:11 PM on December 11, 2001


Let's take this thread over to MeFi and actually discuss the Higgs boson, rather than talking about how great it would be to talk about it.
posted by Hildago at 11:13 PM on December 11, 2001


This thread seems to disprove the Higgs - nothing exists that could give it mass.

OTOH, MeFi's Spelling Higgs postulates a must-pass-through field which certainly is a drag.
posted by Opus Dark at 11:37 PM on December 11, 2001


meta /me't*/ or /may't*/ or (Commonwealth) /mee't*/ adj.,pref. [from analytic philosophy] One level of description up. A metasyntactic variable is a variable in notation used to describe syntax, and meta-language is language used to describe language. This is difficult to explain briefly, but much hacker humor turns on deliberate confusion between meta-levels. See {hacker humor}.

What do you expect? And come on, why don't we just introduce a function to correct one's post for the hour following its submission? Surely this would reduce the amount of useless clutter accumulated through our far too frequent if passionate criticism by MiFi's many orthographers.
posted by Hypnerotomachia at 12:00 AM on December 12, 2001


Nice inline BFL, there icey.

I personally think that 'taking the piss' (making a humourous, chiding comment that is not intended maliciously) when someone makes a spelling mistake is just fine. One comment.

When the one-upmanship of piss-taking comments hijacks the thread, well then you might as well be sitting in a pub in Australia. And that's just scary. And not at all Metafiltronic.
posted by stavrosthewonderchicken at 12:09 AM on December 12, 2001


With apologies to Neale, Sennoma, and all the other MetaAussies...
posted by stavrosthewonderchicken at 12:10 AM on December 12, 2001


It can be done in a funny way. For example, in mattpfeff's latest MeTa post I wrote, all serious-like:

I think we are experiencing a draught. For weeks now there haven't been the usual two or three lively polemics a day newcomers like me had come to expect.

And eyeballkid's comment was

MMMMMMM, Draught!(link to Guinness site)

In my defense, I had draughted my comment in the middle of a terrible draft blowing through the window and, being no droughtsman, got my spelling in a twist - which no SpellChecker could catch, btw.
posted by MiguelCardoso at 12:27 AM on December 12, 2001


FPPs should be easy to read.

On the one hand, mocking the poster doesn't help any. On the other hand, he has a point: people in glass houses shouldn't throw stones (unless they have homeowner's insurance). He laughs at the scientists, we laugh at him. Back to the first hand, I don't think comments like that belonged in the main post.
posted by gleemax at 1:33 AM on December 12, 2001


This (ex-)physicist recommends reading this which was linked to (almost) by liam somewhere in the discussion (and this one if you're a bit more clued up on symmetry arguments).
posted by andrew cooke at 4:14 AM on December 12, 2001


I actually saw the original poster's point about laughing..

"God particle may not exist." I find that pretty freaking entertaining.

As for the spelling.. I once harassed someone on Usenet for spelling and felt horrible when it turned out he was only visiting the US (which explained his US e-mail address).

And, in a comment thread here at MeFi someone (not going to dig it up, not worth it) tried to refute my entire argument about a point because I misspelled Czechoslovakia.

This trend of picking apart posters based on their user profile, personal web site, spelling snafus, and comment history is getting really old.
posted by xyzzy at 5:36 AM on December 12, 2001


Still, it's the front page. Some basic proofing is warranted. If mockery is the price for skipping that step, I say so be it.

Same here. There should be some anxiety about posting to the front page on MetaFilter. At least enough to make you preview your link and correct three obvious errors.
posted by rcade at 6:09 AM on December 12, 2001


By the way, I agree that there were too many spelling comments. I figured it was because no one had anything substantive to say about the article. I'm not so much defending the "dogpile" as just pointing out that ignoring blatant mistakes encourages people to be sloppy.

And eyeballkid, yeah, you can retract that bit. ;-)
posted by rusty at 6:19 AM on December 12, 2001


Some people I know had once discussed an appropriate term for the kind of argument that attacks a person's spelling and grammar rather than the substance of the argument. It's somewhat analogous to an ad hominem attack. I think we settled on something like ad lexicam, but I have no doubt fouled the ending, as I do not understand Latin. Perhaps some of the classicists out there can help me out.

As for this issue, I do think it's important to proof one's posts. However, it's equally important (if not more so) to be civil, and it's rude to correct someone publicly when they have no way to make amends. You may snigger to yourself, and you may email the person, if you really must, but insulting people because of their spelling is rude, and you should keep the public comments to yourself. It's hard to make a case that they add anything to the argument.
posted by anapestic at 8:09 AM on December 12, 2001


"Spelling isn't everything. There are days when spelling Tuesday simply doesn't count."

- Rabbit (from Winnie the Pooh)
posted by joshua at 1:22 PM on December 12, 2001


The thread got back on track nicely and I learned quite a bit. I would also like to point out that if everyone used spell-check, the elusive Higgs Bosom would never have come to light.
posted by gimli at 2:03 PM on December 12, 2001


I posted my comment mocking Joshua's comment whilst pissed. Maybe he should learn to cut + paste from the Beeb but it did derail the possibility of a good thread. BTW both my grasp of high level physics and spelling are pretty ropey..
posted by laukf at 4:38 PM on December 12, 2001


It's bad manners to jump on people for spelling mistakes. For a good reason.

*hands stavrosthewonderchicken a cheque*
posted by Catch at 5:00 PM on December 12, 2001


The spelling and general mistakes on that post were so bad I had to read it a couple times before I got what it meant to say.

I find that hard to believe. The mistakes were:
-'saught' for 'sought' (which probably wasn't a typo, at least on a qwerty keyboard) - there aren't any other words I can think of that 'saught' could mean.
-'oject' for 'object' which is clearly a typo, and again, I can't think of anything other than 'object' that 'oject' would mean.
-'devistating' for 'devastating' which is just spelling a word as it is pronounced.

Sure, the mistakes may indicate a lack of proof-reading, but they're hardly bad enough to make a post unreadable.
posted by eoz at 5:18 PM on December 12, 2001


By the way, my response ("Blah blah blah for the good of humanity!") was because I thought it was I who made the spelling mistake. I didn't use the spell check, and I'm such a horrible speller that I automatically assumed that the comment was directed at me.
Dint mean n' harm suh!
But, just as protest, I shall be posting in Gaelic from now on.
Tak thet a' shut u' youse asho! Naething e' rae 'er, ells braw!
'uo naeds spae'cker?

posted by fuq at 6:25 PM on December 12, 2001


It's bad manners to jump on people for spelling mistakes. For a good reason.

In an attempt to look less like an asshole (thanks for that link, there, Catch. One of my more embarrassing MeFi moments), I will clarify that my snarkiness eventuated in an email conversation with both the poster and her sister, and it all ended in hugs and cocoa, virtually speaking.
posted by stavrosthewonderchicken at 6:56 PM on December 12, 2001


And that's one to grow on.
posted by Kafkaesque at 7:15 PM on December 12, 2001


Sure, the mistakes may indicate a lack of proof-reading, but they're hardly bad enough to make a post unreadable.

Not unreadable, just hard to read. First I tripped over "saught" and then, just as I was mentally recovering from that, *slam* up against "oject". I mentally adjusted, assuming those were "sought" and "object" and I was still left with "The most sought after object particle in physics...". Now I have to figure out what an object particle is.

At this point, I gave up and went to read the linked story. It wasn't till I got to the actual sentence that was "quoted" (to use the term loosely) that I finally understood what I was supposed to have read the first time.

Like I said, hard to read. Two sentences, should have slid right by, but they didn't because of a lack of proofreading. People ought to be nicer about their "Hey! Check your work!" comments. And posters ought to be more careful with the Post button. That's all I'm saying.
posted by rusty at 9:34 PM on December 12, 2001


Sure, the mistakes may indicate a lack of proof-reading, but they're hardly bad enough to make a post unreadable.

::bzzt:: "Hard to read" does not mean "unreadable." And it was hard to read. We read by recognizing word shapes. When a word looks different than normal (even thru for through or nite for night), we have to spend extra time to figure out what it means. This is made worse when the word isn't an intentional shortening (the examples above, which you may have seen thousands of times), but not a word at all (oject, saught).

That's why little mistakes (pronounciation is nearly identical to pronunciation) aren't a big deal, but little typos (oject looks nothing like object) can be.

The insults didn't help, but there's no excuse for not proofreading something at least once. I doubt anyone would miss "oject" if they tried to read their own post, topical poster included.
posted by gleemax at 9:58 PM on December 12, 2001


Me: ...there's no excuse for not proofreading something at least once.

Where "something" is "a front page post." :)
posted by gleemax at 9:59 PM on December 12, 2001


:) right back atcha, stav. enjoy another mug of cocoa on me.

walking away from all discussions of spelling, before I go into the dyslexia lecture, which is probably not appropriate right now....
posted by epersonae at 10:05 PM on December 12, 2001


We read by recognizing word shapes.

My point exactly. None of the word shapes were so obscure that they made reading particularly difficult. At least, I managed to read it without a problem (but then, I tend to skim).

I'm not saying that typos make good front page post style, just that I didn't think it was that bad.

(Personally, I don't care much about spelling, but the use of full stops in place of question marks really throws me. Personal taste, I guess.)
posted by eoz at 1:30 AM on December 13, 2001


My point exactly. None of the word shapes were so obscure that they made reading particularly difficult. At least, I managed to read it without a problem (but then, I tend to skim).

Your being silly. The post was hader to read than it had to be.

No one ever said it was imposseble to read (but you reacted taht way), and now you decided to cange your tune.

Its a FCAT that words that look signifcantly diffrent are harder to read. The lack of one letter in a six letter word can be a big deal, to you're eye. It doesn't atter if u "don't care much aout spelling." It still effects u.

I'm not saying that typos make good front page post style, just that I didn't think it was that bad.

It was bad enough to give people trouble (me included). There wouldn't have been insults if it was something easy to breeze by.

Worse, it was obvious there were mistakes. I have no doubt the poster didn't proof their post. That's just bad. I mean, is one person's time more important than everyone who reads MeFi (10,000+)?
posted by gleemax at 2:10 AM on December 13, 2001


By the way, here's a spellchecker vbs script, which installs into IE and uses MS Word (if you have it) to spell check text which you've selected in a form field and right-clicked upon. It then shoves the results into the clipboard so you can just hit ctrl-v to replace the selected text. Useful if you want to use your own local, customised dictionary to spell check MeFi or blog posts (or anything really). I've McAfee'd it and it hasn't crashed my computer, so it's probably safe. Works a treat ("blog" isn't spelt wrong now, for instance).
posted by walrus at 5:45 AM on December 13, 2001


Oops ... you will need windoze and IE5+, as well as MS Word, to take advantage of it ...
posted by walrus at 5:47 AM on December 13, 2001


Oops, stav, sorry, didn't link to that to make you look bad, but to hold you up as a shining example. : )
"Tonight, when good snarks go bad!"
posted by Catch at 12:35 PM on December 13, 2001


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