This is in response to something that has happened to me recently. A few weeks ago a thread about the use of correct spelling and grammar was posted by Jane Young. (You can find it here.) This thread covered how it can affect the way you are viewed, along with your team.
What I do not recall it covering was how to address these issues as they pop up. Yes, mistakes are made regardless of where you post. I recently sent a message to someone asking about something they posted and got this in return.
Let me start by correcting several spelling errors in the quoted text:
If you ask this question, and do it with proper spelling and word use, I’ll respond with my rationale.
Are simple spelling and grammar errors enough to refuse to answer someone? All I did was forget a letter here and there. “to do” was “to o”, “yes” was “Yes”. It was simple thing like this that caused him to refuse to answer.
So, let me ask a question to all who read this. What is the correct way to tell some one? And where is the line that says to correct them?
I personally would say the line is when the post is hard to read. I would then let the individual know via a message that the misspellings have made to hard to read and to ask him to possibly explain what he meant.
So what would everyone else on Chief Delphi do?
(A slightly edited version of what I sent can be found here. )
We’re all human, and we all make spelling and grammatical errors from time to time (I’m guilty of the is/are mistake in some of my posts). We should make every attempt to keep these mistakes to a minimum (Firefox has a built-in spell checker), but sometimes they elude are detection.
Everything here is viewable by the general public, but we’re not the New York Times or the Wall Street Journal. We’re not newspapers of record, and nor is the content written here sold to millions of people for consumption of news and entertainment. This is a forum designed to foster communications among participants of the FIRST community.
So yes, we should care about spelling and grammar, but we shouldn’t let the zeal for absolute and obsessive perfection overtake our genuine purpose of inspiring students. Refusing to respond to a post due to spelling or grammatical errors is letting a personal vendetta get in the way of a actually helping them. Rather, we should kindly point out that proper spelling and grammar are essential to facilitate communications, while we also help them with whatever else they came here asking for.
Yes, the poster obviously does not think that I am worth anything or they would show me the respect of taking the time to spell. No, saying they aren’t good at spelling is not an excuse. If English isn’t the poster’s first language the story is different.
If you want a respectful answer take the time to proof your post. Hiding behind excuses and claiming that I am not being “GP” won’t cut it. Put a good faith effort, that is all I ask.
I want it noted that in your particular case, I don’t know. This is a general statement.
There are also times when a person will refuse to respond when they probably can’t back up what they’ve said and does not want to deal with that. (admittedly I’ve done that before but I’ve stated this to the person who asked for my rationale, instead of refusing to answer). Not saying this was the case here.
I understand that you have said in my case that it is slightly different. But I don’t mean just my case. Just things in general.
I myself DO suck at English. Yet it is my first and ONLY language. Because of this I rely on spell check a lot. I read over what I write, and I try my best to fix it. Yet at times I still make mistakes. Its part of the human race. No one is perfect.
So that being said. Can you really assume the poster doesn’t respect you, or do you think that the person has simply made mistakes regardless of trying their hardest?
Most of the people who use things like u or r or sum1 or b4 are freshmen right out of middle school or other “new” students. Most will grow out of this phase pretty quickly when you politely ask for them to use correct spelling and grammar and treat them like an adult with respect. If you ignore them, they will never have anyone to help correct their actions and they will keep using aim/l33t speak.
The first thing I would do is remember my sense of humor or find it if I have misplaced it. That would help me and, hopefully, anyone that I am going to be interacting with during a discussion.
Here are some thoughts:
consider the source
consider the question or the questions that you have posed. Is it or are they rhetorical questions or simply questions?
would it be more suitable to ask in a private message?
is the world going to fall apart if your question isn’t answered in a time frame that you are expecting or - are you a little more flexible and willing to wait to see if the question will be answered? If it is not answered, are you prepared to move on and not worry about it? That goes back to - consider the source and - is the world going to fall apart?
Thank you for introducing the thread that I started regarding punctuation and grammar but please keep in mind that the thoughts, suggestions, and opinions expressed in the thread are just that. They aren’t there to punish but rather, to encourage better communication skills. The world is not going to end if someone creates a thread with a title that is vague and contains multiple exclamation points but we can work to continue to help make ChiefDelphi a friendly and informative community. One way for us to do that is to be friendly and to make helpful and thoughtful contributions. If I was judged by the amount of typos that I make, no one would ever respond to my posts. I do try to use all of the helpful resources available to me such as the preview option, but I still manage to make a number of typos and write awkward sentences. I keep working on that.
When there have been posts made that have given me a headache when trying to understand what the poster was writing or why - I tend to muddle through and if the topic is of value, I’ll respond. If I can’t understand it, I may ask for clarification either in the thread or in a private message. It really is up to each individual whether they answer questions or not and if they do - when they answer them. Sometimes, I like to think a lot before I answer a post or a private message. When I do that, I’m trying to show respect for the person who is asking by forming a careful and thoughtful response.
Art, I have to admit, I didn’t think of that. Thanks.
I guess it comes down to a judgement call, if you feel the person would benefit more by a friendly reminder that spelling and grammar is important and respected around here then do it. If they look like they need a nice PM letting them know their post is offensive and shows a lack of respect then do that.
We all make typos; sometimes they are humorous or even Freudian. Or we change our thoughts before posting without correcting the whole sentence. For example, changing to a compound subject without changing to the plural form of the verb. I can usually overlook those.
But what I don’t like is having to try too hard to figure out what the message is trying to say. That may be due to too many abbreviations and text-typing, or it may be because the sentence and paragraph structure is all messed up. I’m less likely to slog through a swamp of words to try to find the solid ground of meaning.
A pet peeve is when people don’t know how to properly use particular words, and use them incorrectly anyway. Or when they don’t know how to spell things, particularly if they come from another language and spell them as if they were English. “Per say” and “toot sweet” are not the correct phrases! (Although I think the latter is often done in jest.)
You will notice that there are several instances of incorrect grammar in the above paragraphs, e.g. sentence fragments. This post would not be acceptable in a term paper or technical review, and I know it. But I believe I have gotten my points across without unduly distracting the reader by my “style”.
Even I will make a mistake in spelling or grammar (I know Jane is snickering as I write this) from time to time. However, spelling and grammar should never stand in the way of sharing knowledge. It can prove a hindrance in the long run which is why several mentors/moderators (myself included) try to keep those things in control. As I said in Jane’s thread, what you write in these threads is the first, and sometime only, impression you give of yourself. You want to make a good impression so you should attempt to correct minor errors in spelling and grammar before you click the submit button.
Spelling flames may be lame but communication skills are the bee’s knees. (That is what you kids say these days right?) Would the rule of thumb be, don’t be obnoxious about correcting them but if it is offensive please mention it?
I will only correct it publicly if it is something terrible. Such as text-talking. Otherwise, if it is slightly less(not capitalizing each sentence) I will PM them. If it is even less(as I’ve seen a few times on this thread) I will cringe and move on.
My suggestion for anyone that has serious trouble with grammar and spelling: Try to get someone else to proof-read your post if at all possible. Perhaps this isn’t reasonable for all posts. But keep it in mind if your going to post something important.
Or the other person may be dyslexic or have some sort of problem with their spelling that isn’t there fault. (Dyslexics are teople poo )
Generally its blatently obvious whether its pure laziness or just a mistake, remember, people make mistakes