the value of good writing

There’s a story up on the BBC website at the moment that quotes Charles Duncombe, “an online entrepreneur”, as saying that a single spelling mistake on a website can cut online sales in half. (For Spanish readers of the blog, there’s a Spanish version of the article available on “BBC Mundo”.)

Duncombe is apparently “shocked” at the poor quality of written English of staff recruited by his companies.

Spelling is important to the credibility of a website, he says. When there are underlying concerns about fraud and safety, then getting the basics right is essential.

I totally agree with this, and really wish that companies would realise that the editing stage is just as important for online writing as for traditional print publishing. Instead, the attitude seems to be that, as an online text can be corrected after publication, it should be posted without a second look.

Of course, there’s seldom time to go back and check later, and corrections aren’t usually made unless something horrendous has crept in by mistake and the site is inundated with comments from irate and offended readers.

Where online publications used to have writers, fact checkers, subeditors and editors, now, the writers often have no one checking any of their work. In the haste to reduce costs, companies have reduced staff and still expect the same productivity. Naturally, standards must be lower.

Another story on the BBC has caught my eye as relevant to my recent comments that Jane Austen, although a favourite, may not be the best role model for writers.

Apparently the manuscript of her unfinished novel The Watsons has sold for £993,250. So I guess even unpolished writing can, on occasions be worth a lot of money. Even if not to the original writer.

Incidentally, though I do try and proof-read before posting, I am sure there are mistakes on this blog. If I see them later, or if someone points them out, I will correct them.

Still, returning to the original news article, I note that “William Dutton, director of the Oxford Internet Institute at Oxford University says that in some informal parts of the internet, such as Facebook, there is greater tolerance towards spelling and grammar.” And I don’t think a personal blog should necessarily have to meet quite such high standards as press and company websites.

Author: don't confuse the narrator

Exploring the boundary between writer and narrator through first person poetry, prose and opinion

3 thoughts on “the value of good writing”

  1. UNO
    Hay un refrán, bastante viejo y completamente rural (o sea, español), que dice más o menos así: “Viendo la puerta del chozo, así tiene el melonar”.
    Un lenguaje pobre, deteriorado y lleno de errores causa desconfianza. Ya sabemos lo que podemos esperar de la página en cuestión. Es tan evidente que resulta increíble la escasa atención que merece.

    “Sgeun un etsduio de una uivenrsdiad ignlsea, no ipmotra el odren en el que las ltears etsan ersciats, la uicna csoa ipormtnate es que la pmrirea y la utlima ltera esten ecsritas en la psiocion cocrrtea”.

    Porque ya no se trata de errores sintácticos u ortográficos, en estos tiempos, además, se escribe, dicen que por las prisas, en un estado de errata permanente. (Aunque yo creo que esto viene provocado porque ahora, cada vez más, solo se escribe con los pulgares. Y esto es lo que viene a salir)


    1. Uno: Sí, ¡muy rural!
      Nosotros – ¡tan cultos, todos! -hablamos de “judging a book by its cover” (que decimos que no se puede) y, sin embargo, de como “fine feathers make fine birds” – ya sabes, que todos vamos de “birdwatching” cada fin de semana.

      Dos: No sabía que funcionaría en español también. Pensaba que al menos el sufijo gramatical tendría que mantenerse. Sin embargo, la única palabra allí que me costó ha sido ‘ersciats’. (Me pregunto cómo se supone que funciona lo de las tildes, aunque ya sabemos que en la Web somos pocos los que seguimos usándolas. Y aún menos los que sabemos la diferencia entre tilde y apostrophe, me parece.)

      Muchas veces podemos adivinar lo que dicen las frases parciales o mal escritas porque usamos frases hechas sin ninguna idea original.

      En fin…


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