Since When is it Bad to be Wrong?

People are wrong all the time, myself included. I’m wrong more often than I’m right, and I’m well aware of it. I don’t mind being wrong, it’s how we learn to be right. If I’m wrong, I expect to be made aware of it, because that means that there’s something I believe that’s not true. If I’m wrong on this blog I give anyone who reads it a formal invitation to let me know; I want you to.

It’s amazing to me that wanting to know when one is wrong seems to be a unique thing. Why would anyone be offended to be told that they’re wrong when there’s clear, concise evidence of it? Why would someone prefer to go about life, not only being wrong, but actively professing whatever they’re wrong about? Either they’re just going to make a bunch of other people wrong, or they’re going to damage their own credulity by give false information to people who know it’s false!

Have you ever been in a situation where you tell someone they’re wrong and they steadfastly disagree, presenting all kinds of arguments to prove that they’re right, but their logic is flawed, or they perceived something incorrectly, and when you actually prove that they’re wrong they get offended?

That same person who condescendingly explained why you don’t know what you’re talking about will then say “Yes, ok, fine, YOU ARE RIGHT, everyone give a great round of applause for the human encyclopedia here, for being right. You’re so wonderful and learned, please enlighten us with your volumes of vast wisdom.” Don’t you just want to say, “Look you f*cking idiot, you were wrong, I was (and am) right, and now you have the audacity to try to belittle me for being right?? I have made you’re life better by helping you look like less of a numbskull. Next time, I’ll let you go about your life in an ignorant bubble, and let everyone else believe you’re the dullard you deserve to be perceived as.”

Typos happen all the time. I’m sure that when I’m done with this rant, I’ll have at least a couple dozen to handle myself. But this is a blog, and moreover, this is my blog. The purpose of this web space is simply my own enjoyment, and if someone else gets some enjoyment out of it, all the better. Heck, the title of the blog is =]V[=. It’s not a word. It’s not even a letter! (Although it’s supposed to look like an M… Stands for “Monogram”. 😉 ) Typos in a professional setting, where information is presented for the sake of the information itself, are worse, and depending on that setting, can really frost my ass.

I cannot stand when a note comes home with my daughter from school, and there’s a typo on it. A simple slip of the fingers can yield an errant letter here or there, or maybe a stray apostrophe that got hit when they were looking for enter, and that’s not really such a big deal. What gets me irritated is when a statement is sent out saying “…there is amble evidence that reading to your child…blahblahblah…” Amble? First, this letter is trying to explain to me that my child’s development in reading and writing is greatly impacted by me as the parent, and it’s using words incorrectly? How ironic is that? Second, this establishment is teaching my kid how to read and write, and kids are going to be graded on their use of the English language and spelling and either they don’t proofread their own announcements, or they don’t know the difference between ample and amble.

This morning, I was reading this article about the artificial creation of a mini-big-bang, and the second paragraph said “bidto” instead of “bid to”. Again, not a big deal, but that should have been picked up by a spell checker. (Don’t worry, I posted a comment pointing it out. It was corrected in a matter of minutes.)

I’m gradually becoming discouraged about web publishing because of mistakes like that though. It seems that either everyone is so rushed to get information out because the longer it’s out there, the more traffic it creates, which translates into exposure / profit for the website. The information takes a back seat to the profits, and typos are slipping through. Either that or the writers / editors just don’t care enough to proof their articles.

I’ve recently been writing for a website called Brighthub.com about Dungeons and Dragons type information, (That’s right, I’m a bigger geek than you may have realized. 🙂 ) thanks to Eric at working my muse, a great guy and excellent writer, though I think most of you know that already. This has really been my first experience with any sort of professional writing, and I’m having a great time… but at the same time, it’s been a telling experience.

There have been a couple of instances where I’ve been reading through someone’s article, and there have been typos. I’ve always let them know, because if they fancy themselves a writer, they’d want to know. They’ve always been receptive and grateful for the heads up. Once or twice, I’ve come across an article (about Dungeons and Dragons, mind you… MY realm of knowledge on the site!) and the information’s just been plain wrong. I sent a message to the writer about it, but the article is still there, and still not quite accurate.

We get paid to put out these articles, and the website makes money when we generate traffic. I’m disappointed that it almost doesn’t matter what we publish, as long as someone clicks on the page and sees the google ads. Obviously, I’m going to continue to make sure my information is correct, but I feel like the fact that there is information at the same site, about the same sort of thing that isn’t completely accurate reflects on me indirectly, simply due to my affiliation with the site and the topic.

Am I over-reacting to the sudden (or maybe not-so-sudden) emergence of all these typos in professional or scholastic writing? Should a typo mean less to me than it obviously does?

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7 thoughts on “Since When is it Bad to be Wrong?

  1. I’m embarrassed when corrected, but that’s because I was wrong. However I’d be much more embarrassed to find out after 5 years that I’d been doing something wrong than to be corrected on the first offense. While it kills me a little inside (because I wish I could always be perfect), I take corrections with good grace because I want to do better.On the subject of typos, I feel like a bit of a hypocrite. On the one hand, I’m a great speller. On the other, I’m actually quite dyslexic. I know how something should be spelled, but looking at it when I’m typing it, I may think the letters in a different order that I’ve typed. I have to do a lot of proof-reading. But since I’m also quite a good speller, others’ mistakes jump right out at me…and there area a lot of typos online.I find myself both pointing out typos and having my own pointed out to me (I use a spell-checker, of course, but it doesn’t catch transpositions that are also words).

  2. This is interesting to me for a couple of reasons.I believe that it is more than okay to be corrected whether it be a typo or anything else. I admit that at my blog I like to make-up words and I don’t always point it out, so I’m sure people think, boy this girl…?But the other reason why I’m intriqued about wrong vs. right is that people are most UNforgiving if you are wrong. I think it’s great that you have no problem admitting that you might be wrong, but what gets me is how others hang onto your wrong doing, your mistake.I guess I’m surrounded by mean people.I see mean people.

  3. If it’s not bad to be wrong, why not just let people be wrong, especially about things that are obvious typos or otherwise have little or no impact on anything?Really I think the issue is that people don’t like to be /corrected/, especially by random people and /especially/ by random people who are insensitive about it. Language in particular can be a very touchy issue, because we tie the way people speak and write to our estimation of their intelligence and worth. What’s one of the easiest and most effective ways to deride someone? Make fun of the way they talk.Relax about language, is my advice. I have, and it has reduced a lot of my stress.

  4. Great post, Matt. I completely agree with you. As an editor (and also as a writer) on Bright Hub, it irritates me when other writers turn in things to me to edit that are clearly not up to snuff. It irritates me even more when this is a writer that has written better in the past and is just being lazy now. For the most part though, writers that I have offered advice to on their writing seem to be receptive and take everything in stride. I did have an idiot once however that completely objected to my comments and complained that he’d been writing articles for years. When I looked at his profile, it was true. He’d been writing for years, and the quality of his work showed that he had never improved. It’s a true tragedy, but sometimes you cannot help people from themselves.By the way, I’m positive Brighthub is a better place because of your writing. Keep it up dude. You’re an awesome contributor and I’m glad I was able to help you find a home there.

  5. Thanks Eric, it’s definitely a good time. 🙂 I think I might have given the impression that I’m walking around correcting people here though… That’s not true at all. When the piece is written professionally, I might shoot an email just to let them know, but a professional writer OUGHT to know… Places like Facebook where I KNOW people don’t care of they say hear instead of here or what have you… it’s just a waste of time. I don’t even bother. In the case of official correspondence from a school, a misspelled word is one thing… The wrong word altogether just makes me /facepalm.

  6. As a former proofreader, and currently a commercial producer and voice-over artist, I am amazed at the number of supposed professionals who do not re-read their writings, or listen to their own recorded work, before sending it off as a supposedly finished product (for which they expect substantial payment, I might add.) Making sure that you correctly read the words, or have conveyed your thoughts in a clear fashion, would seem to be the minimum requirement, not some onerous task.

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