Welcome to WebmasterWorld Guest from 3.234.214.179

Forum Moderators: not2easy

Message Too Old, No Replies

Content Pet Peeves: What Are Yours?

A compilation of errors we often see

     
9:02 am on Jan 17, 2003 (gmt 0)

Full Member

joined:Dec 13, 2002
posts:314
votes: 0


When it comes to writing or reading content of any type, you have 3 basic elements to consider: Grammar, Composition and Style.

In any one of these elements, you are bound to find common mistakes that both novice and experienced writers make.

By starting this thread, I hope to develop a list of common mistakes, traps and pitfalls ALL writers make. This compilation of errors can be used by writers aspiring to pinpoint and eliminate weak spots in their prose.

To start this thread, allow me to list three of my "pet peeves."

#1) Unnecesary use of the word "that."
Examples:
Bad-> "She said that he did not have to go to school today."
Good-> "She said he did not have to go to school today."

When determining if you can eliminate "that" from a sentence, say it outloud without the "that" and if it still makes sense, then you don't need it. I see this one all the time, even in college textbooks. It may not be a "big deal," but it's my biggest pet peeve (for some reason).

#2) Using the same subject or verb in the same or adjacent sentences.
Example: The City Council met Thursday with all members present. The City Council's first item for discussion was the annexation of the Harrison Subdivision. After 10 minutes of deliberation, the City Council approved the formation of committee to research and make recommendations concerning annexing the Harrison Subdivision. The committee will report back to the City Council in four weeks.

Nauseating isn't it? How about substituting city leaders, or just council or councilmembers or town council? Harrison Subdivision is also used twice too close together.

It is unimaginative and makes for feeble prose.

#3) Avoid slang, cliches, colloquialisms and catch phrases. ie, "Show me the money!" - "Ya'll come back now!" "He counted his chickens before they hatched."

This is also unimaginative and makes for weak content.

Those are my 3 to get it started. I have more but will hold back for now as I hope to get some input from others who have their own pet peeves of ain't not no good content.

Thanks,

Zapatista

9:36 am on Jan 17, 2003 (gmt 0)

Senior Member

WebmasterWorld Senior Member 10+ Year Member

joined:Apr 27, 2002
posts:1685
votes: 0


Excessive use of 'it'.

As was pointed out to me the other day, not all nationalities understand the concept and find usage of the word very confusing.

:)

Pendanticist.

12:35 pm on Jan 17, 2003 (gmt 0)

Full Member

joined:Dec 13, 2002
posts:314
votes: 0


Another peeve> Wrong spelling for $2 words.
1:37 pm on Jan 17, 2003 (gmt 0)

Full Member

10+ Year Member

joined:Oct 22, 2002
posts:260
votes: 0


1) Poor Grammar. I especially hate it when verb and subject don't agree.

2) Incorrect Spelling. I know Zapatista just said that, but it needs to be said more than once - even WYSIWYG programs have spell checkers.

1:53 pm on Jan 17, 2003 (gmt 0)

Preferred Member

10+ Year Member

joined:Nov 2, 2001
posts:597
votes: 0


sites *that* talk about products or services at length without giving out the important info that people really want to know.
2:06 pm on Jan 17, 2003 (gmt 0)

Senior Member

WebmasterWorld Senior Member 10+ Year Member

joined:Apr 27, 2002
posts:1685
votes: 0


Excessive use of 'it'.

Sentence fragments. :o

Pendanticist.

2:15 pm on Jan 17, 2003 (gmt 0)

Senior Member

WebmasterWorld Senior Member 10+ Year Member

joined:Jan 8, 2002
posts:993
votes: 0


Addressing your #2 peeve, I know we're all are tempted to fall into repetition of key words. If your key words are "City Council", you might hold you nose and repeat it more than may be necessary to facilitate SEO.

So, this is where optimization and good written expression sometimes clash. I'm not suggesting reaching the level of keywork stuffing. Simply, that the temptation to "guild the lily" is always there.

Is "guild the lily" really that awful?

2:23 pm on Jan 17, 2003 (gmt 0)

Senior Member

WebmasterWorld Senior Member 10+ Year Member

joined:Jan 8, 2002
posts:993
votes: 0


Here's another one. I don't know how often I see "definitely" spelled "definately".
2:45 pm on Jan 17, 2003 (gmt 0)

Moderator

WebmasterWorld Administrator buckworks is a WebmasterWorld Top Contributor of All Time 10+ Year Member Top Contributors Of The Month

joined:Dec 9, 2001
posts:5838
votes: 165


<<Is "guild the lily" really that awful?>>

Yep, because it should be "gild" ;)

Gild the lily: to cover it with gold leaf ---> to make needless "improvements".

The original phrase probably came from a poem somewhere.

Be cautious about metaphor and simile: Native English speakers use lots of strange little phrases whose meaning is NOT obvious to someone reading the words literally. This can be a problem when writing for an international audience for whom English is their second language, or third, or more ...

"got a load off his chest"
"a wet blanket"
"carrying coals to Newcastle"
"sour grapes"

I could go on, but the tea is ready.

2:53 pm on Jan 17, 2003 (gmt 0)

Senior Member

WebmasterWorld Senior Member 10+ Year Member

joined:Sept 19, 2000
posts:2501
votes: 27


I often find writers will incorrectly use too, to and two or other similar words such as for, four and fore. Spell check cannot help in this case.

Sentences such as, "There are to many people in that bus" ... drive me crazy!

3:02 pm on Jan 17, 2003 (gmt 0)

Moderator from US 

WebmasterWorld Administrator martinibuster is a WebmasterWorld Top Contributor of All Time 10+ Year Member Top Contributors Of The Month

joined:Apr 13, 2002
posts:14939
votes: 497


Native English speakers use lots of strange little phrases whose meaning is NOT obvious to someone reading the words literally.

And sayings also trip up native speakers. I've patronized religious bookstores that featured bookmarks with sayings by Ben Franklin (a swinging atheist free thinker), specifically,

"God helps those who help themselves."

Or brother! Is that a misunderstanding!

3:11 pm on Jan 17, 2003 (gmt 0)

Senior Member

WebmasterWorld Senior Member digitalghost is a WebmasterWorld Top Contributor of All Time 10+ Year Member

joined:Feb 23, 2002
posts:3687
votes: 0


I just saw this one today:

We would like to try and deliver the best products possible.

My first revision would be;

We try to deliver the best products possible.

However, my final revision would be;

We deliver the best products.

One of my biggest pet peeves is the introduction of the contraction of the words 'no' and 'one' to create 'noone'. 'Noone is not a word.

The use of 'your' for 'you're'.

I'm not a prescriptivist but I don't believe that all the rules should be ignored. I don't mind the use of rhetoric if it adds to the copy but the usage has to be considered carefully.

My biggest pet peeve however is the use of the run-on paragraph. A paragraph should never become an entire page nor should a paragraph contain several ideas. For some reason web authors seem to like paragraphs that would best be described as chapters.

3:23 pm on Jan 17, 2003 (gmt 0)

Senior Member from US 

WebmasterWorld Senior Member lorax is a WebmasterWorld Top Contributor of All Time 10+ Year Member Top Contributors Of The Month

joined:Mar 31, 2002
posts:7577
votes: 4


Hoo boy - this is a loaded topic! My list includes poor grammer, incomplete and run-on sentences, spelling errors, poor organization, and excessive use of comma. Oh, and my number one peeve is improper or non-existent citation of source material!
3:28 pm on Jan 17, 2003 (gmt 0)

Senior Member

WebmasterWorld Senior Member 10+ Year Member

joined:Apr 27, 2002
posts:1685
votes: 0


Oh, and my number one peeve is improper or non-existent citation of source material!

Amen!

Plagerism. Ugh! That one could be an entire thread on it's own.

Pendanticist.

3:53 pm on Jan 17, 2003 (gmt 0)

Full Member

10+ Year Member

joined:Oct 22, 2002
posts:260
votes: 0


Self-styled "experts" who haven't got the first clue of what they're talking about are another pet peeve. If you're going to write on a topic, do a little research so you don't confuse people who are looking for authoritative information.

<edit>Too many people doing research on the web think if they find a website on a specific topic listed in the Top Ten, it must be authoritative. Unfortunately, this is not always the case.</edit>

3:59 pm on Jan 17, 2003 (gmt 0)

Senior Member

WebmasterWorld Senior Member 10+ Year Member

joined:Jan 8, 2002
posts:993
votes: 0


Buckworks - I plead guilty. Please forgive me. Please! I'll never gild the lily again.
4:01 pm on Jan 17, 2003 (gmt 0)

Senior Member

WebmasterWorld Senior Member 10+ Year Member

joined:Apr 27, 2002
posts:1685
votes: 0


Buckworks - I plead guilty. Please forgive me. Please! I'll never gild the lily again.

LOL! :)

Pendanticist.

4:40 pm on Jan 17, 2003 (gmt 0)

Moderator

WebmasterWorld Administrator buckworks is a WebmasterWorld Top Contributor of All Time 10+ Year Member Top Contributors Of The Month

joined:Dec 9, 2001
posts:5838
votes: 165


You are forgiven, and in return I ask you to forgive me for teasing you about it publicly! :)
4:45 pm on Jan 17, 2003 (gmt 0)

Preferred Member

10+ Year Member

joined:Nov 2, 2001
posts:597
votes: 0


I find, that, most web copy is writtin fine. You, guys arent making any cents with some of you're coments. Even if the content that the web designer cre8ted is dificult for you too, read that is not the designers' job. The desinger is their too make a sight that look's good. Spelling, and, grammer, are better left to those that no better. Most of this thred sorta sounds like sour grapes, if, you ask me.
5:12 pm on Jan 17, 2003 (gmt 0)

Senior Member

WebmasterWorld Senior Member 10+ Year Member

joined:Sept 12, 2002
posts:885
votes: 0


"God helps those who help themselves."

Or brother! Is that a misunderstanding!

"Platonic love" - ever read The Symposium? Know anything about Greek culture? They aren't talking about non-sexual relationships...

As for commas, I don't mind them in places where the rules of grammar I know make them optional. Seeing commas every few words in places they clearly don't belong drives me batty, though. It also seems to be a hallmark of what I see as sleazy hard-sell tactics.

5:39 pm on Jan 17, 2003 (gmt 0)

Senior Member

WebmasterWorld Senior Member digitalghost is a WebmasterWorld Top Contributor of All Time 10+ Year Member

joined:Feb 23, 2002
posts:3687
votes: 0


Please, don't get started on quotes. People that don't know the full quote, or the meaning of the quote should never use them.

A couple of common butcherings:

The common version: The proof is in the pudding.

What? What in the hell is that supposed to mean?

The real quote: The proof of the pudding is in the eating.

Make more sense now?

Common Version: Hell hath no fury like a woman scorned.

Okay, that one might make sense, but it is still wrong.

The real quote: Hell hath no fury like a woman's scorn.

Common Version: Alas, poor Yorick! I knew him well.

That one just bothers me because it is wrong and often quoted by people that are trying to impress people with their knowledge of Shakespeare.

The real quote: Alas, poor Yorick! I knew him, Horatio:

I run into bad quotes all the time, but for some reason most of them escape me at the moment. Maybe some others can fill out the list.

5:47 pm on Jan 17, 2003 (gmt 0)

Senior Member

WebmasterWorld Senior Member 10+ Year Member

joined:Jan 8, 2002
posts:993
votes: 0


Buckworks - Done! But I want you to know I can take it.
6:04 pm on Jan 17, 2003 (gmt 0)

Senior Member from US 

WebmasterWorld Senior Member lorax is a WebmasterWorld Top Contributor of All Time 10+ Year Member Top Contributors Of The Month

joined:Mar 31, 2002
posts:7577
votes: 4


Most of this thred sorta sounds like sour grapes, if, you ask me.

Sour grapes = fermented grapes = wine, the nectar of Gods. ;)

6:31 pm on Jan 17, 2003 (gmt 0)

Junior Member

10+ Year Member

joined:Dec 12, 2002
posts:171
votes: 0


I hate apostrophe's in the wrong place.
6:35 pm on Jan 17, 2003 (gmt 0)

Senior Member

WebmasterWorld Senior Member 10+ Year Member

joined:Dec 27, 2001
posts:762
votes: 0


My pet peeve is people who list their pet peeves, especially with writing. The rule is very simple: does it communicate? If yes, it's fine. If not, the writing needs improvement. That's the only criteria that matters.

Richard Lowe

6:41 pm on Jan 17, 2003 (gmt 0)

Junior Member

10+ Year Member

joined:Dec 12, 2002
posts:171
votes: 0


Richard,
Communication is important but so is grammar and correct spelling and syntax.
There was a documentary programme on UK TV last night. A guy was doing mailshots offering to make people rich by giving them franchises in various parts of the UK. He bragged that the use of a single comma in a crucial sentence misled people into believing the parent company would do the work for them when it was actually all down to them. Hence the scam - that judiciously misused comma made him thousands of pounds a day.
(He's now doing five and a half years in jail).
6:56 pm on Jan 17, 2003 (gmt 0)

Senior Member

WebmasterWorld Senior Member digitalghost is a WebmasterWorld Top Contributor of All Time 10+ Year Member

joined:Feb 23, 2002
posts:3687
votes: 0


>>The rule is very simple: does it communicate? If yes, it's fine. If not, the writing needs improvement. That's the only criteria that matters.

Sorry, it's not that simple. The first determination is the audience you are trying to communicate with. Info presented to college graduates should be presented differently than information presented to 6th grade students. Same info, different audience.

You left out the most important part of the equation in your simple rule. Does it communicate effectively?

>>does it communicate? That's the only criteria that matters.

Really? The message doesn't matter at all? Just that the message conveys some meaning to someone? Style doesn't count? Presentation? Audience? Treatment?

I suppose if you write technical manuals that approach would work. Or if you only want to convey simple ideas. What if you want to reach people across different education levels? Different cultures? Different ages?

Your simplistic approach raised more questions for me than it answered.

Does it communicate to whom? What message is the text communicating? How effective is the communication?

What your message communicated to me was that you were in a hurry and you were feeling a bit world-weary at the moment. Was that the intended message? Or did you mean that writing is a simple task, and all we're doing by listing some of our pet peeves is wasting your time?

7:30 pm on Jan 17, 2003 (gmt 0)

Full Member

10+ Year Member

joined:Aug 23, 2002
posts:307
votes: 0


I guess what it all boils down to is, if I were to draw stick figures on a wall, and my target audience understands my stick figure message, all the pendanticism in the world means absolutely squat.

One of the things I enjoy about humanity is the ability to read beyond the literal and still end up at the heart of the point that is being forwarded.

I guess when reading, I try not to get too hung up on the details.

How many screw ups did I make in this post?

Was my point missed because of those grammatical errors?

7:35 pm on Jan 17, 2003 (gmt 0)

Junior Member

10+ Year Member

joined:July 22, 2002
posts:55
votes: 0


The word "got"

Similiar to the extra "that"

7:41 pm on Jan 17, 2003 (gmt 0)

Junior Member

10+ Year Member

joined:Nov 10, 2002
posts:42
votes: 0


How about then when it should be than.

Couldn't be a typo because the keys are not even next to each other.

This 62 message thread spans 3 pages: 62
 

Join The Conversation

Moderators and Top Contributors

Hot Threads This Week

Featured Threads

Free SEO Tools

Hire Expert Members