Spelling Flames

Subject: Spelling Flames
From: Steve Owens <uso01%eagle -at- UNIDATA -dot- COM>
Date: Fri, 4 Feb 1994 17:02:11 +0700

Hey there. Do me a favor, and carefully read the ENTIRE message
before you hit R(eply)...

> -- What *pro-active* nitpicking (checking your own writing before it goes
> out) does is to make your E-mail easier for everyone else to scan quickly
> and (given more time) to understand. Given the number of people who
> may be reading any given message, the time spent seems worth it to me.
> I want to *read* this stuff -- not stumble over things that someone
> else was "too busy" to catch. We're all busy.

This is one half of the general advice given to new users in the
news.newusers.questions newsgroup, in essence, "take the time to write your
post well, it's going to be seen by a lot of people and waste (in the
aggregate) a lot of time if it's hard to understand."

The other half, the flip side, is that if somebody else
doesn't do this to your satisfaction DO NOT flame people over spelling
errors and/or typos. An even more drastic mistake is to post a flame
to a newsgroup or mailing list, instead of privately to the person who
committed the mistake.

Now, obviously, this stuff isn't about spelling, but we're
writers and can be expected to have higher-octane bones to pick (to
mix some metaphors).

Also, this does not really qualify as a flame, because it's a
fairly reasonable discussion. On the other hand, we're writers, so
one can assume we're conducting this on a more professional level.

Still, what it boils down to is, somebody may waste a bit of
my time by using an incorrect spelling or punctuation or whatever in a
post, but a posted correction wastes even more of my time, not to
mention up to "hundreds or thousands of dollars" of network resources
(if you use an old newsreader and try to post, it'll warn you of that
:-), not to mention the connect time fees of people who have to pay
for access to this stuff.

Now multiply that by the ensuing DISCUSSION, not to mention
(on heavily populated newsgroups) the ensuing "don't post spelling
flames" posts and discussions from people like me (fortunately there
aren't many on this group :-).

And when it all boils down to it, what's the effect of a
posted correction? Well, if it's a fairly specific, odd correction
(like the way I mis-spelled Tucson/Tuscon earlier this year), then
hopefully the poor sod will remember it. But more likely it's a
general thing that arises because e-mail is like speech, not like
publication. So the target of the correction can do one of two

1) Rigorously proof his/her posts before sending, costing lots
of time and increasing self-consciousness
2) Not post.

Which do you think is more likely?

Sigh... and when it all boils down to it, this message is just
a long-winded way of saying "don't post spelling/grammar/syntax/punctuation
flames", but hopefully by promoting _understanding_ of the reasoning behind
the rule, I'll encourage its use...

Steven J. Owens
uso01 -at- unidata -dot- com

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