Let those without error cast the first aspersions, error-free of course

This is the Online column, written for The Southland Times)

There’s an old saying about people who live in glass houses avoiding the chucking about of stones — probably because it’s the kind of activity that is very likely to come back and bite you on the proverbial bum.

DictionaryOnline communities are havens for those who tut-tut about the behaviour of others as they nod wisely and explain to the world how it is that they manage to be so perfect themselves. I know I had a rant a few weeks ago about message board minefields that are full of loaded questions just waiting to blow up in the face of unsuspecting posters but there’s one grumpy group I forgot to mention — the spelling and grammar police.

Yes, I see the little mistakes that pop up on forums. However, I can usually still understand what’s being said. I’d never think about wandering into a thread and correcting the grammar of another poster but others are happy to.

I must say, it’s always incredibly entertaining when the grumpy poster manages to make an error or two while nitpicking at someone else’s posts. That’s when I temporarily play their game and point out their own shortcomings.

Yesterday, I read a post where Fairfax, which owns Trade Me and a whole bunch of newspapers — including The Southland Times — was blamed for the lack of apostrophes in an auction on Trade Me. The poster’s claim (complete with a couple of confused plurals, a misplaced adjective and a wayward apostrophe) that reading any Fairfax-owned paper was proof that the company doesn’t care about spelling and grammar certainly gave me my giggle for the day.

Guess what? Fairfax cares. So do the people who work for Fairfax. However, I know that no matter how careful I’ve been, and no matter how careful the subeditor who edits this will be, some eagle-eyed reader is going to drop me a line in the next day or two, pointing out with glee something that they will perhaps liken to the end of the world. Have fun with that.

If you want to have a laugh with (not at) those who messed up, knew it and embraced it, check out the creative answers to some testing questions.


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