Spelling Errors on Front Page Look Bad August 30, 2002 10:39 AM   Subscribe

The front page represents us to the world. If we're going to take the trouble to post to it, can we doublecheck our spelling?
posted by rushmc to Etiquette/Policy at 10:39 AM (26 comments total)

This is not to single out anyone specifically, although there are a couple of misspellings/typos already today. But I've noticed over the past week or two a significant increase in misspelled words in front page posts. It takes a lot of effort to find good links, create a topic, and craft a post--is it grammar nazi-ish to ask that posters take an additional few seconds to proofread before they hit the post button? Like it or not, the front page is what all who come to Metafilter see, and every misspelled word diminishes the authority of the site and its members, to my mind.
posted by rushmc at 10:42 AM on August 30, 2002

I agree, rushmc. Fair or not, misspelled words can change the way your post/comment is viewed and interpreted, and I'd think that it's not really that big a deal to spend an extra couple of minutes proofreading a post you've spent time researching and writing (double-checking things like contractions and making sure you haven't mistakenly said things like "I could care less" when you meant "I couldn't care less" doesn't hurt either). I don't think it's grammar nazi-ish, but then I'm probably a grammar nazi, so what do I know?

On preview: even people who proofread carefully miss things, that's true, but running your post through a spellchecker should at least help with typos.
posted by biscotti at 10:53 AM on August 30, 2002

As someone whose spelling has sometimes been corrected and learnt from it (it's difficult to forget if it's there, white on blue, for all to see) a more important question is: is it OK to correct someone's spelling? Is umbrage taken? Is it just best not to dwell on it? Does it interrupt threads? If it is worthwhile, what's the politest way to go about it?

As to Rush's main question, I used to mind about spelling mistakes (as I make a lot of them and hate doing so) but a year on the Internet has convinced me this is a spontaneous medium, made to use on the fly and that ortographic obsessions are far less widespread than I previously thought. I think users assume that brief proof-reading is about as much as you can expect. It's a forgiving environment (spelling-wise only!) and all the better for it.
posted by MiguelCardoso at 11:00 AM on August 30, 2002

I fancy myself a bit of a grammar nazi myself, but that does stop me from screwing up. It would be nice if there was some way for the posts author to go back and edit it.
posted by timeistight at 11:01 AM on August 30, 2002

I have the opposite problem. I've seen some pretty lame call-outs with respect to typos or semantics within thread and it always reminds me of the worst kind of Usenet flames.

Since I can't go back and fix a misspelling once I've committed to the post, then what's the point of pointing it out? Other than as a really small-minded way of attempting to discredit my ideas?

Yes, somebody with 10 spelling errors per sentence is going to carry less persuasive weight than somebody with perfect spelling, but where is the value in dwelling on it? It's hard to proof your own stuff. It's harder still when you're proofing on screen.
posted by willnot at 11:03 AM on August 30, 2002

even teacher told me bad spelling and grammar counts. A typo once in a while is natural, if occurring lotly, that be weeish lazy. IMO.
willnot hi, I, losing weight persuasively, here, lite by day today.

posted by clavdivs at 11:09 AM on August 30, 2002

thank good for spell check.
posted by clavdivs at 11:10 AM on August 30, 2002

My point is that there is a big difference between making careless errors within a thread, where it really only reflects on YOU, and on the front page, where it lowers the quality of the whole site. Let's not veer off into repeating previous pro-spelling/anti-spelling debates here.
posted by rushmc at 11:45 AM on August 30, 2002

I'm not sure your fellow grammar Nazis can add much, rush, except to say: "Amen!"
posted by lackutrol at 11:50 AM on August 30, 2002

Let it noted that some here have failing eyesight, for whom the little letters in the text box are not always so obviously misplaced or absent and often missed upon review. I can not read the sidebar here at all, for example, unless I scoot up to three inches away from the monitor, take off my glasses and squint. It really is a bother...
posted by y2karl at 12:12 PM on August 30, 2002

I can sympathize, y2karl. Since having eye surgery two weeks ago, I have been making about one typo per post. But I've managed to catch and fix the vast majority of them, without using the spellchecker, simply by caring enough to look closely and proofread. Maybe not everyone cares to make that extra effort for everything they post to a thread, but again, I think it is their responsibility to do so if they are making a front page post. If that's too much trouble, then maybe they shouldn't be posting.

People can re-read what they've written a couple times, use the spellchecker, increase their font size, ask a friend to look at it--whatever it takes for them to get it right. Posting to the front should be A Big Deal.
posted by rushmc at 12:18 PM on August 30, 2002

I have a B.A. in English (yes, that makes me a loser) and I still put words into Google or Word, just to make sure that I am not spelling them wrong. Hate to come off like a nitpick, but if a post is rife with spelling errors, it's hard to look past it. I don't think that, when making a post to the front page, it is unreasonable to expect that a poster be a little more careful.

is it OK to correct someone's spelling?

I think it is, so long as it is done with the intent of being helpful, and in an respectful manner. Just don't be a dick about it, and keep it to the point.

Of course, if someone claims that their neglected cat pounced across the keyboard, they should be excused.
posted by adampsyche at 12:18 PM on August 30, 2002

Willnot is 100% correct on this.
posted by crunchland at 12:22 PM on August 30, 2002

"The front page represents us to the world."

Oh my fucking God. Are you kidding me? You're going to try and make me feel guilty so that my spelling will rise to a level *you* find acceptable?

"When you made that apostrophe error you made Metafilter look bad."

Please give me a break. Miguel is right on here. It's a freakin' discussion community. On the freakin' Internet. It's not a for-profit publication. It's not a peer reviewed journal.

If you are really so shallow that a spelling mistake on a webpage will make you lose respect for the poster, then just move on. Either skip the thread or find another medium that doesn't allow access to those horrible horrible bad spellers who make *you* look so bad.

Please!!! Hello? Welcome to the Internet. Welcome to open forums.

AAAAAHHHHHH!!!!!!!! [pounds head on f'ing desk]

(sorry...... hot button issue..... f'ing spelling Nazis....)
posted by y6y6y6 at 12:40 PM on August 30, 2002

that be weeish lazy

I'm pretty sure weeish is a typo. I just don't know what it's supposed to be.

*gets y6 a nice, soothing cocktail*
posted by Kafkaesque at 12:45 PM on August 30, 2002

My biggest fear as a newbie, spelling, shite I only wished it had been.
posted by thomcatspike at 12:56 PM on August 30, 2002

So much energy expended, y6y6y6. Wouldn't it be so much easier to learn to friggin' spell than to defend ignorance so vehemently?

But again, that's NOT the issue of this particular thread.
posted by rushmc at 1:08 PM on August 30, 2002

//struggles to keep from pointing out typos in the thread about typos, succeeds womanfully after gouging fingernail marks in desk//

(English major undergrad, English major grad, ex-TA, ex-editor, winner of 5th grade Murwood all-grades spelling bee)
posted by redshoes3 at 4:03 PM on August 30, 2002

am i the only one who doesn't care that much about spelling? not that i've had any fpps lately, but my attitude has always been that spelling is much like appearances - if people are going to judge me by it to the extent that they avoid me then, frankly, it's probably for the best on both sides.

i don't mean i'm some horrible stinky person in rags who never uses a dictionary - just that clothes and spelling (capitals too, if i'm tired) seem rather superficial... (i enjoy clothes, just as i enjoy reading a post without nice spelling and good grammar - i just don't think they're important for judging the quality of the contents).
posted by andrew cooke at 5:48 PM on August 30, 2002

I'm a strong proponent for not judging by appearances, when it comes to certain things. People who are overweight or disfigured are one thing. People who possess their full mental capacities, yet are smelly, dirty, grease and/or food-covered are another. One thing, there's very little (immediate) help for. The other can be fixed with a little effort, and the fact that it isn't speaks volumes about a person in my estimation.

I'm not going continue to associate with someone with a raging case of BO after they've consistently been given soap and deodorant, or with filthy clothing when all they have to do is throw them in the washing machine. Why should I give the same consideration to a lazy poster as I would to someone who took the effort to hit the little 'spell check' button?

All rushmc is doing is pointing out that there is in fact mouthwash for your gargling pleasure, so please do so before you start talking in other people's faces. Otherwise, don't be surprised when people cringe from you in horror.
posted by precocious at 6:25 PM on August 30, 2002

That's not all he's doing. If the board accepts that yes, we'd rather people take the time to spell properly, then that gives tacit, or even explicit, approval to the people who want to stand up in a thread or on MeTa and point out what a bone head the guy is for not taking the time to sort the difference between there, their and they're. (or for using run-on sentences)

People are probably going to do it anyway, but I think it's worse than any spelling errors, because it's deliberate. So, I'd rather we say - spelling errors, we don't like them, but we don't want to say they violate the MeFi charter.
posted by willnot at 6:44 PM on August 30, 2002

I'll make this very simple:

is it grammar nazi-ish to ask that posters take an additional few seconds to proofread before they hit the post button?

Yes. Of course the question was phrased in such a way that my answer seems boorish and flippant. It's not. I actually takes me a long time to check my grammar and even then, I'm not sure. Stuff gets by and I live another day.
posted by KevinSkomsvold at 7:26 PM on August 30, 2002

Let my previous comment be a lesson.

"It actually takes a long time..."

The irony is not lost on me.
posted by KevinSkomsvold at 7:38 PM on August 30, 2002

willnot: reread rushmc's posts. He didn't ask for good spelling to be mandated, nor did he say anything about using proper grammar. He rather politely wondered if the people who make front page posts in which typos romp willy-nilly would be willing to stop being so bloody lazy/impatient and use a spell-checker.

Really. If you can't be bothered to hit the "spell check" button, why should anyone take you or anything you have to say seriously? Unless appearing to be illiterate is some kind of new trend. I mean, outside of the AOL/Yahoo! chatroom crowd.
posted by precocious at 8:53 PM on August 30, 2002

i think my point was lost. i don't want people who worry about spelling to this extent to read my posts. that's what i meant about it being ok for both sides...

i'm happy for people to get worked up about spelling - i just don't want to be bothered with them. is all.
posted by andrew cooke at 6:35 AM on August 31, 2002

weeish=pee-like+small (shoulda stuck with peevish
posted by clavdivs at 7:54 AM on September 1, 2002

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