Defining the line between mistakes and negligence

the_grammar_police_mugI like to think I’m one of the more level-headed members of the Grammar Police. I don’t want to arrest every violator I come across, and often I won’t even bother to issue a warning. I get it. Everyone makes mistakes, and nobody likes some know-it-all coming along and pointing out misspellings and punctuation errors.

However, my threshold was crossed last week while reading a story on a popular sports blog dedicated to one of the professional sports teams I follow.  I said something in the comments section, and the reaction was pretty evenly split among those supporting my view and those voicing disagreement.

Where Grammar Police are concerned, it’s necessary to recognize the difference between a simple mistake and gross negligence. One or two misspellings in a 500-word article might be chalked up to human error, but when I spot 15 grammar, spelling and punctuation mistakes in one article, it goes beyond simple mistakes and into the realm of gross negligence.

Some of the excuses are laughable:

“The writers on this site are all volunteers and don’t get paid anything, so you have to overlook a few errors!”
Really? I have to overlook errors because the writers aren’t paid? Maybe they shouldn’t be volunteering if they can’t do the job, or are only interested in doing the parts they consider fun. Have any of these volunteers and journalistic thrill-seekers ever considered that their little hobby might be indirectly costing dedicated professionals their jobs?

“I have to constantly ask myself one simple question. When it comes to these sorts of grammatical/editor issues and that is…Who gives a shit?”
Well, it’s hard to argue with a genius like this. Too many people don’t “give a shit,” and that’s one reason why media companies have terminated all the people who do (give a shit). If your grocery store regularly sells rotten vegetables and spoiled meat, you’d stop shopping there, wouldn’t you? Hold media companies to the same standard. If you’re being served rotten copy, stop shopping there! Remember, the spoilage you see is probably just a fraction of the rot below the surface.

“But it’s just my blog!”
Yes, it is just your blog, but do you really want your readers to think you have a third-grade education because you don’t know the difference between your and you’re, its and it’s, their and they’re, or because every other word is misspelled? If you take the time to write a blog post, you should take the time to read back over it a few times before hitting that SUBMIT button.

Look, we’re all human and sometimes we get in a rush and make a mistake. Just don’t let your mistakes compound to the point that the Grammar Police come calling.

If you see an error on Roamin’ Gnomials, the gnomes and I want to know about it! Add a comment or send an e-mail to this address: I want my copy to be clean, but even level-headed members of the Grammar Police make a mistake now and then.


Add yours →

  1. Huzzah! Sign me up as a Deputy! 🙂 Horrible spelling is rampant and misuse of apostrophes is downright appalling.
    Thank you, Weird Al!

    Liked by 1 person

  2. The truly sad thing, as you well know, is that even newspaper websites now are riddled with copyrot. Most of it is written — hurriedly and full of spelling, grammatical, factual and libel errors — then posted with the first headline that comes to mind and never seen by a copy editor, let alone an editor. Worse yet, no one in charge seems to care. One among many reasons for my decision to hang up my green eyeshade at the end of this month.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Yes, another little-known fact comes to the surface. 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Debbie Farrisi March 9, 2015 — 6:01 pm

    Please continue on your beat, Officer Glenn. If we let this go, the standards will disappear and in time we won’t be able to understand one another. Preach it.

    Liked by 2 people

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