Why Typos and Factual Errors Could be Killing Your Blog Readership

Filed as Features on January 29, 2009 5:04 am

gooseGrade HomepageAre you a stickler for spelling, grammar and syntax? Have you ever turned away from a blog or website because you found a factual error?

gooseGrade Survey: People Care About Typos and Factual Mistakes on Blogs and Social Media

Do your blog readers care whether you can spell Barack Obama?

A 2008 survey conducted by gooseGrade, a crowdsourcing editing tool for bloggers and social media content creators, tried to find out how much consumers of new media content really care about typos and factual mistakes. (See TechCrunch’s database entry on gooseGrade.)

The survey had 175 respondents and resulted in data such as the following:

  • 57.5% of respondents said that they get the majority of their new on the Web – but from traditional media “crossovers” like CNN.com, not blogs or social media websites
  • More than 42% said that they had “often” or “very often” left a website upon noticing spelling, grammar or factual errors; another 36.2% reported “sometimes” having that experience
  • 87.8% of respondents said they find spelling or grammar errors distracting when reading online content and have spent less time browsing a web site than they otherwise would have because spelling or grammar errors on the page became too distracting

The folks at gooseGrade used their survey to justify their service’s existence, emphasizing the large percentage of respondents who said that blogs and social media are not as respected as mainstream media because they are believed to contain more errors.

The Real Traffic and Backlink Killer: Laziness

In some cases, bloggers can plead ignorance. Maybe you just didn’t know that misunderestimated ain’t a word. (Not a “real” one, anyway, although a certain former political leader was known to have employed it.)

But the primary reason blogs have so many mistakes is that their authors get sloppy. It’s just too tempting to hit that Publish button before conducting a thorough fact check.

I just know you’re scouring this post for a doozy – a broken link, a garbled word, a blatant disregard for the truth.

How interesting that you could be the one diligently combing through each sentence while I could be the one carelessly finger-dancing my way through.

Related Resources on Blog Writing and Factual Mistakes

Do you agree that laziness is the primary cause of error-prone blogging?

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  1. By Sue posted on January 29, 2009 at 8:29 am
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    Something else to bear in mind: the difference between American and British English. I’m British, and I write British English. I’ve had a couple of really nasty, sneering comments from American readers recently pointing out how wrong I am (in their version of the language). So in cases where British gives a choice but American only has one correct version (e.g. singular verb with a company name), I’m learning to write “American”.

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  2. By John B Pounders posted on January 29, 2009 at 8:43 am
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    @sue Each person that posts a correction in the gooseGrade system has a grade of their own. It is in their best interest to put themselves in the author’s shoes.

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  3. By Easton Ellsworth posted on January 29, 2009 at 8:59 am
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    That’s a hard decision to make, Sue. I’m American and write in American English most of the time, but when communicating one-on-one with a person who prefers British English or another variety, I often adopt their spelling conventions or word choices to smooth the communication flow and show them that I hold them on the same level as myself.

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  4. By Jennifer posted on January 30, 2009 at 4:11 pm
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    Hey I had no idea you blog here Easton – cool beans. Anyhow, I like the post, and get that people are picky, but sometimes bloggers use their own style. I see a lot of odd stuff on blogs that I don’t see in essays, articles, etc. Some of this style is worth keeping – extra short sentences for example, or less flowery speech patterns. I see errors sometimes and I’m sure I make some, but the only ones that really get me down are basic spelling issues like their when you mean there, or when people pull this crap: BRB, CYOTFS, etc. This doesn’t even belong in email in my opinion, let alone posts. I can forgive minor errors but not this.

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  5. By Easton Ellsworth posted on February 2, 2009 at 11:55 pm
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    LOL er I mean yes I see what you mean and hi Jennifer. :) Compare a typical 19th-century handwritten letter to a typical 21st-century email or blog post and you can instantly see that the flow and cadence of written language is very different. Our rapidly evolving technology constantly makes new demands on our minds and we are only following suit.

    I agree – some non-standard writing elements make for a more likable blog, while others make for a more unpleasant blog. It depends on the audience’s preferred manner of communication and the author’s as well.

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  6. By sikiş posted on August 31, 2009 at 12:59 am
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    else to bear in mind: the difference between American and British English. I’m British, and I write British English.

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  7. By Alfred | Dont Stop Believin posted on August 31, 2009 at 8:04 am
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    Hai Im Alfred….whoa what a cool post… I absolutely agree! Cuz i ‘ve been like that for a while…and then all of my post get mess, chaotic…so many miss spell, typos dan factual errors…Thank U so much Easton

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  8. By sikiş posted on September 20, 2009 at 1:22 pm
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    The amber and green are not really necessary, one red signal will do, this can pulse before going off, i.e. to the ‘green’, ‘go’ state. A fair amount of ‘leccy’ would be saved with the red-only system.

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