Blog Content vs. Typos

Filed as News on April 15, 2008 6:17 am

Career blogger Penelope Trunk recently had an interesting post outlining five reasons why typos on blogs are a fact of life and that complaining about them is “stupid.”

From spell checker dropping the ball to the age-old argument that spelling is not tied to intelligence, Penelope goes as far as warning about the dangers of perfectionism.

If errors bother you a lot, consider that you might be a perfectionist, which is a disorder. Perfectionists are more likely to be depressed than other people because no amount of work seems like enough. They are more likely to be unhappy with their work because delegating is nearly impossible if you are a perfectionist. And they are more likely to have social problems because people mired in details cannot look up and notice the nuances of what matters to other people.

It is my belief that the majority of bloggers would rather spend their time coming up with something interesting to write about rather than looking up the difference between a colon and a semi. Plus, since many bloggers have adopted English as a second language, you can’t expect things to be perfect. However, I do admit that I take notice of typos on several top blogs and scratch my head over their level of caution. While it doesn’t make me doubt the validity of what they are talking about, it does raise a red flag.

What’s your take on typos? A fact of life or an unacceptable practice?

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  1. By Silky posted on April 15, 2008 at 7:11 am
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    I think the bottom line is that communicating with your audience is the most important part of a blog post (regardless of how you spell it).

    However, if you are a pro-blogger, come on, have some pride in your work and check for typos before publishing.

    Reply

  2. By Jeff Wetherington posted on April 15, 2008 at 7:22 am
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    We’re all human and we all make mistakes, but if I see an inordinate amount of spelling and grammatical errors it causes me to question the writer’s level of pride, committment and professionalism in their own work. That includes my own if I rush to publish something without carefully reviewing it.

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  3. By Chris Foley posted on April 15, 2008 at 7:37 am
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    The quality of writing in blogs depends greatly on the level of correct grammar and spelling in one’s postings. Nevertheless, I’ve been guilty several times of terrible typos that I somehow misssed.

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  4. By Webomatica posted on April 15, 2008 at 8:11 am
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    I’ll forgive typos up to a point, but if they interfere with my comprehension of the article then it’s just a waste of my time. Meaning, I can’t understand what the writer is saying because of poor spelling / grammar.

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  5. By Rob O. posted on April 15, 2008 at 9:28 am
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    People tend to forget that blogging is, well, writing. What do you want your writing to say about you? You’ve already shown that you’re willing to go to the considerable trouble of establishing & maintaining a blog, so why not also put an equal amount of effort into your writing skills as well? Your blog content is largely what you’ll be judged upon.

    But, yeah, typos do happen. But I also think it’s completely legitimate to go back and correct minor typographical and/or grammatical errors if you spot them late down the line.

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  6. By Robert posted on April 15, 2008 at 9:29 am
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    Typos I can forgive (although it can be a good indicator that someone’s not using Firefox.) Bad grammar, on the other hand, can drive me batty. Sometimes, I may have to reread one sentence three times just it comprehend it. Why? One missing coma. Read the WordPress support forums? Notice the entries that have no replies. Those are usually the ones that leave you asking “Uh, what was the question?”

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  7. By Megan posted on April 15, 2008 at 9:58 am
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    Typos are sloppy. I understand that occasionally they slip into blog posts by accident, but when I see a post full of typos and grammar mistakes, I stop reading.

    No, it’s not fair, and maybe I’ve missed great stuff this way. But I really think that if you care about your blog, you proofread before you hit “publish”.

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  8. By Corvida posted on April 15, 2008 at 10:27 am
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    It wouldn’t hurt to let a spell checker run it’s course every now and again. However, Trunk is right, no need to be prissy about it.

    On the other hand, that can be a highly irritating thing to see plenty of errors running through a post. A typo is fine. However, anything beyond that has a habit of becoming a problem.

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  9. By Sam Hall posted on April 15, 2008 at 10:35 am
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    I’m a former journalist turned freelancer and political consultant. To boot, I’m a horrible speller who depends heavily on spell checkers.

    And while I believe that the most important part of any type of presentation — whether it be a blog or a presentation from a media firm — is the content, if bad grammar and poor spelling is the norm, then I’ll pass on them every time.

    In the race I’m managing right now, a media firm didn’t get an interview with us because of their cover letter. It was poorly written — full of typos and bad grammar. You just can’t do that and be successful.

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  10. By Adrian L posted on April 15, 2008 at 1:31 pm
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    Like I said to Penelope (a couple posts before writing her site off for good and removing it from my feed reader), it’s a matter of respect.

    Now, I’m not the kind of person to point out a typo or two to a writer in public. I’d probably email them, in fact. But when a writer tells me that they can’t be bothered to spend the extra 90 seconds checking up on their spellchecker before hitting the “Publish” button because they are too busy to do so, it turns me right off.

    Yes, the writer is spending time to bring me content. I respect that. But the more important fact here (and one that many writers would do well to remember) is that READERS ARE SPENDING THEIR TIME READING THOSE WORDS! And a lot of those sites are making money off those readers. Revenue or not, writers must learn to respect their readers.

    If we’re dealing in words, shouldn’t they at least be spelled right?

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  11. By Sally posted on April 15, 2008 at 2:10 pm
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    I have one ‘critic’ who point out my typo’s. I try to fix them but usually the ones that get through are the grammatical ones now with my words underlined in red in the browser. However, my blog is personal, its about my life, and quite frankly, I think if it has a few typos in it, then if a website tries to take the content for their own and dont’ run a grammer check, then I feel I have far greater grounds to prove the content originated from me.

    For articles I decide to lift and rework and publish for money, then yes, I will make an effort to make sure they are grammatically correct and all words are spelt properly. If I was hoping my blog was ever going to be something that could be sold, I might have made an effort from the start to make sure each essay was a glowing testimony to perfect English. But when its just me and my thoughts with no one paying me (I just hope people will like my travels enough to want to read more!), then I’m not going to get worked up over spelling errors and not going to take anyone seriously who criticises my freely provided content!

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  12. By Ben posted on April 15, 2008 at 4:37 pm
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    Just because something is a “fact of life” doesn’t mean we have to accept it. I’m pretty strict on my own writing, and I have one of those nitpicky eyes that finds mistakes. But I also know it’s hard to find every single mistake at times.

    I see bloggers that I respect have typos every once in awhile, so I shrug. However, if I consistently see typos, the writer’s credibility goes down in my opinion. Blogging is something that allows anyone a voice, but it’s still a writer’s medium. Consistent mistakes show that you don’t respect the medium and the consumer of that medium.

    As for those for whom English is a second language, if all they have to read is typo-ridden blogs on the Internet, they’ll never master English. Let’s take some pride in the medium.

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  13. By Luis Cruz posted on April 17, 2008 at 1:31 am
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    I’m reminded of a college professor who set a limit of 5 errors (typos, grammatical errors) on the papers he graded. The first thing he would do with a paper is scan for errors. Anything with more than 5 errors gets returned immediately – the rest are graded as they normally would.

    If you make a few mistakes here and there, I can probably ignore them. If, however, typos, misspelled words, and errors pepper your paragraphs and make everything harder to understand, I’d probably just ignore the whole post, or even the whole blog or publication. I think that’s my version of returning your paper.

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