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Extreme difficulty reading internet english on my forum

9:35 am on May 31, 2004 (gmt 0)

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Hi, I run a PC hardware site whose forum has multiple sections... There's PC storage and MP3 players as well as game controllers.

The latter two always attract people that make post in English that I have extreme difficulty understanding... whereas the PC storage is where the professionals or people who write proper english hang out.

Some of the words they put down are these...
1. noe (?)
2. know (this replaces 'no')

there are obviously more... but the problem is that it would take me more time to re-read the sentence to make sense out of it.

Is this english style going to go away?

1:53 pm on May 31, 2004 (gmt 0)


WebmasterWorld Administrator rogerd is a WebmasterWorld Top Contributor of All Time 10+ Year Member

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Incomprehensible posts can be a problem on many boards. The major types I've seen include,
- posts (in english) by non-english speakers
- posts in text-message shorthand/gibberish
- occasionally, posts by english speakers with exceptionally poor spelling, grammar, and composition skills
- posts on english-language forums in other languages

Deciphering the garbled English posts can be particularly difficult for a reader for whom English is a second language - even native speakers may have to work hard to read them!

I don't think there's an easy answer, though. Your TOS can state that all posts must be in English, but you can't legislate skillful writing. For a poster deliberatly writing in text message or other shorthand, you or a mod could request a more normal mode of writing.

If you or one of your moderators encounters one of these difficult-to-understand posts, you can help the original poster as well as your other members by replying to it with a short "translation", e.g., "If I understand your question, you are asking how to copy songs from one playlist to another." This will clarify things, and perhaps get the discussion going in a positive direction.

4:49 am on June 1, 2004 (gmt 0)

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this is a good example that takes me to read it 3 times...

"i herd taht dooom 3 waz to comming out on teh mac like teh necst yera!"

I still don't know what 'necst' is...

People just won't quit typing garbage...

"Me fail english, that's unpossible."

6:06 am on June 1, 2004 (gmt 0)

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hehe, I get them too, I just have a laugh. Btw, he's saying "next"
9:29 am on June 1, 2004 (gmt 0)

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looks to me like he's from Quebec ...: )

You think this is bad ...ever try the IRC h@ck channels ...Woooow!

Text message styles must be the worst case scenario in all languages ..it's so dependant on their accents and age ect where they would place the emphasis in words that even 2 people posting in the same language can still be mutually incomprehensible ....

There used to be a kind of non pitman shorthand in the 60's and 70's that was probably the clearest thing I ever saw ..

I learned it in about 10 minutes ...

The hook line was "gt a gd jb wth mr py"....

Brings to mind also an article in readers digest in the early seventies on "Spanglish" ....

It started in on the subject in English and as it went along it explained the likely substitution that would be made in Spanish or Spanglish ..as it mentioned them it then made sure to use them ..at the end of the article ( about 500 words) most folks were reading Spanglish without having noticed the transition ...

Now if we could just do the same with Rumsfeldspeak ..

[edited by: tedster at 11:54 am (utc) on June 1, 2004]

4:49 pm on June 1, 2004 (gmt 0)

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I mostly don't encounter this problem, but every now and then when I do, it falls under one of two categories: non english speakers, who are trying their best, or l33t sp33k (leet speak)

The non english speakers doing there best: I muddle through, and try and be as patient as possible. If I "correct" their english, then I do it subtly, use the same words they used in my reply, only with correct spelling. I don't want to turn people off by insulting their language abilities. Especially when I can typo my way through an entire post myself, if I'm tired and not paying close enough attention (also known as the "Brain to keyboard interface error.")

l33t sp33k: Drives me buggy, and I show a lot less patience for it. First offense: remind the person to use real english, because not everyone knows the lingo and it's a public forum. Also, I won't reply to the post's questions or comments until they post it again in plain enlish. 2nd and later offenses: I start having fun with them. The neat thing about leet, is you can make up your own version of it on the fly, without a lot of thought. I start using my own personal brand of leet, that I know is utterly incromprehensible to anyone but me. You'd be surprised at how strong an impact this can have. Usually, the offender will either disappear never to be seen again, or will start using plain english in an attempt to get me to reply in a way they can comprehend.

1:32 am on June 2, 2004 (gmt 0)

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I've banned text messaging abbreviations on my forum. It's full of teenagers, but after a while they do learn to write properly...well, most of them anyway. I rarely use the bad word filter for actual bad words, it's full of ur, ne1, Im, newayz, etc. It's in the welcome letter that we don't allow abbreviations, as we have many users with English as a second or third or fourth language, so the better they write, the easier it is for the foreign kids learning English. We tell them that we don't charge by the letter, so they can spell words out completely. For many of them, it's gotten to be such a bad habit that they have trouble writing properly at first. We tell them they'll thank us for it later when they have to apply for jobs.
1:43 pm on June 2, 2004 (gmt 0)

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h1, 1 Run 4 PC H4RDw4r3 5173 wh023 ph0RUm H42 MUL71Pl3 53c710n2... 7h3r3'2 PC 570R493 4Nd mp3 Pl4Y3R2 42 W3LL 42 94m3 k0N7R0lL3r2.

The results from playing with a javascript l33t translator - just wondering if putting in an automated "l33t to English" translator would get the message across - but only for certain users. Eg. if (user status == "l33t") { $text = l33t_2_english($text);}

Not that I have seen this problem on my sites yet.

The only positives I can think for this are that you might find your target audience searching using these terms.


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