English was never one of my best subjects at school. It wasn’t that I found it difficult – I enjoy reading, I enjoy writing, I thought I learned most of the rules of the language but never really did well in the subject.
I find it interesting now that I try to blog regularly that the skills from high echo in my head as I try my best to comment on things. Satisfaction is at a different level as well. In school, you’d write something, submit it, wait a while, and then get it back with some red ink on it circling errors, making suggestions about how to do better, and then a mark.
It’s different in the blogging world. The feedback that you receive comes in the form of a count of the number of people who read the posting, the occasional comment, and a shout out or retweet on Twitter. Your sense of satisfaction for a post is mostly intrinsic.
No more – “Doug, you have a dangling participle.” – Until now.
WordPress has incorporated a feature into its editor that brings back the high school experience. It comes complete with markup, red underlines, and suggestions for improvement. It appears to work silently in the background until you get ready to go public. Right after you click the “publish” or “update” button, suggestions are there to help before you go public.
To demonstrate, I logged into WordPress and went to a random article. In this case, it was entitled “Ontario Meetup #1” from December 30, 2008. I’m not going to do anything to the original except ask WordPress to update the content. This entry pre-dated the feature being added so it’s never had the luxury of a critical eye. Here goes…
Aw, doesn’t that bring back fond memories? The red underlines turn out to be suggested mis-spellings. My posts have a lot of that since they do contain a lot of jargon. The blue lines highlight “complex expressions”, whatever that means. I look at that as a compliment. Maybe another look is in order! The blue also offers some suggestions for alternative words to better describe what I’m writing. That is helpful. But, the most hurtful (grin) and something that appears quite frequently underlined in green in my posts are suggestions that I’m writing with a passive voice. Of all of the suggestions, this gets to the personal level. I supposed it goes to the notion that writing should be forceful if you’re trying to make your point.
So, after posting, I do go into the editor and ask for some advice. Like a good English teacher, the suggestions are pretty helpful and I do at least take them under advisement and make revisions that make sense to me.
Hopefully, the results are a better blog post.