On the internet the army of people who love to go around correcting grammar is quite big. I am all for good English (and yes I do own an AP Stylebook) but often they pick up on the most trivial things.
If your errors are constant, sluggish and blatantly obvious then fair enough, they can have a go at you, and you need to sharpen up. But some commenters go way too far at the smallest things.
This is quite a long article, here are the key points of the article if you are short of time, if you want to read how to turn the bullies in your favor then read on after this bullet point list.
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First off let’s just say the manner in which people report the mistake is important. Some people are respectful and report the error because they care. That is to be appreciated, they are not a bully. We are talking about the nasty people. Over the years writing I have been called all sorts, my most recent was “an illiterate f**kwit”. And why did they call me that? Because I had used the word “less” when the correct word should have been “fewer”. And apparently, that means someone decides to call me such a horrible name.
Ironically many of them are huge cowards. We all know it is highly likely they wouldn’t say it to your face in real life anyway. But what shows how cowardly they are is that many don’t even include their real email in the comment form. You have no way of contacting them. So they leave the comment and scarper. They are too scared to even trade emails.
Here’s the thing. Without realizing it they are going to make you more money.
That’s right, the individual who decided to call me such a thing is helping me increase my profits. Thank you very much! But how you say? Because Google use many factors in how they rank websites, and it is highly probable one of them is spelling and grammar. Why is it probable? Because quality is a key factor. And if you have a post filled with spelling mistakes and grammatical errors that is a sign of poor quality.
If you are selling something then the buyer will expect you to be professional. Grammatical errors may put people off. By having perfect grammar it may end up leading to more customers. Either way, correcting your grammar can only be a good thing for your blog or website.
One thing you can do is have a report form. This will keep the grammar army out of your comments. The whole point of the comments section is for discussing the topic, keep it that way.
Also make sure you research the error which has been pointed out. The person saying you’ve made a mistake isn’t always right. I’ve had this happen a few times, where I’ve looked into what they’ve said, and in fact they are wrong. Some people think they are smarter then they actually are, some people think they know everything, and some people are just trolls. Either way look into what they have said to be crystal clear on what is correct. It is also worth noting that the AP Stylebook has had many changes. As this article points out, it is sometimes the case that different people have learnt from different editions.
Once you are clear on the correct grammar then update the article.
If the person notified you in a respectful way (obviously they don’t fall in to the “bully” category), then after the update is done reply to them politely thanking them in a gracious way. You may also want to give an honest reason why it happened, but you don’t have to.
If the individual called you nasty names, or they didn’t have the guts to leave a real email address, then simply correct the error if necessary. Don’t even bother replying to them, that’s if you can of course.
If you are an English teacher then yes, obviously it matters. But on this website nobody has English degrees, we report on tech, science and health. When you read a latest news piece about a robot would you rather the reporter had a degree in English and knew about Shakespeare, or a degree in robotics and knew about robots?
If you are a blogger, then why should perfect grammar actually matter. You aren’t writing for the Daily Mail or any other national newspaper. They may have gold standards, but as bloggers it is different, it is a more relaxed form of media. Having high standards is important, and healthy, but we don’t have to be perfect. Remember at all times spelling should be spot on and the text should be easy for the reader to understand, we shouldn’t waste their time figuring out what we’re saying. But after that getting nitpicky doesn’t matter.
We are human, mistakes happen. This is one thing that always makes me smile. It would be like a soccer playing never misplacing a pass. It is a mistake, we all do them. Yet for some reason bloggers can get hung out to dry by some people.
People who leave comments calling others disgusting names (such as “an illiterate f**kwit”) shows they have issues themselves. Any decent well-grounded human being would politely point out the error and suggest it be changed. Remember that clearly you have a better life then them if they need to go around calling names like that to make themselves feel better. Rather then being angry at them, feel sorry for them, and remember they are helping make your website better and potentially get better search rankings.
A final thought then. Whilst the grammar bullies go about wasting their time, you are happily doing what you love. So don’t worry about them, life is too short!
Thanks for reading, happy writing, and good luck with your website.