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Is this forum really such a good idea?
6

Is this forum really such a good idea?

Is this forum really such a good idea?

(OP)
Sorry, i have to ask.

I think this is an excellent forum and has that added ingredient of being great fun.

Of course there are many regulars with thick skins and/or a sense of humour and there is a lot of give and take. I detect also that there many contributors who love a good argument above all else.

However, whereas before I was very tolerant of the individualistic approach to spelling and grammar sometimes used by other engineers, if I notied it at all; I now find myself on the alert to every small error that creeps into other engineers posts and then I pounce.

Maybe we need some way to let other engineers know that the language police/vigilantes are likely to pounce on their every post.

Incidentally, we may need to be a bit careful of how strictly these language rules shoudl be applied to forum posting. Should we expect the same level of care to grammar and spelling in forum posting, e-mails, text messaging etc as we should/could with written reports, articles, official documents and the like. There are many that propose or support the idea that these electronic communications are exempt. Some go so far as to suggest that there is a special etiquette for electronic posts of every kind.

This glossary suggests things are getting pretty far away from the "Queens English": http://www.netlingo.com/....

Bottom line (OK, post me in the jargon area for that)how many others of you have found your own behaviour change and is it constructive? Do we need our own rules of conduct, especially when posting in other fora?

RE: Is this forum really such a good idea?

Yes, this forum is fun and informative.  I have no objections to having spelling, grammatical, and/or other errors pointed out to me.  Unless the error is pointed out, I may not be aware of the error.  Pounce away, but be aware that what is good for the goose is good for the gander.  However, to that end, we all must be aware of the spirit in which such criticisms are made.  Learning and Fun are not mutually exclusive.
 
Yes, it has changed my behavior.  I'm more cognizant of what I post, and how I post it.  I have benefited from this forum, learned a few things along the way, and the overall effect has been positive.  I look forward to the continuing journey.

RE: Is this forum really such a good idea?

Interesting points.

So far I have not seen anyone shot down in flames for committing errors of grammar or spelling in this forum.  Such errors have been noted, but in all cases I read them as being light-hearted in nature and fully appropriate given the nature of this forum.  I suggest we strive to maintain this as the status-quo.

JMW asks if we should expect the same level of care to apply to forums, e-mail, text messages as we do to formal reports.  My vote is a resounding yes.  Clarity and precision of language and informality are not mutually exclusive.  We should all strive to use language that is clear, precise and unambiguous at all times (except of course in those cases where some degree of obfuscation, imprecision or ambiguity are required or intended).

I suspect that there are a good number of "lurkers" watching this forum.  Perhaps many of who are not native English speakers.  This is the target group for participation in this forum.  We must take it upon ourselves to never flame any poster seeking to improve their knowledge of the use of our rather idiosyncratic language.

RE: Is this forum really such a good idea?

YEP!

One of the best ways to improve one's language skills is to use it.  This forum offers the users an opportunity to improve themselves, in a relatively safe environment. One will learn from others just by reading their posts. The posts Colloquialisms, Acronyms, American-British words, etcetera expand one's repertoire of the English language.

Good language skills should be utilized in every log, note, procedure, policy, record, report authored, who knows who or for what purpose it maybe used in the future.  The stereotypical engineer is a poor speller, his grammar skills are atrocious, and writing is an arduous task for most. Mistakes, misspellings, and grammatical errors take away from the readability and possible the usefulness of the post. However, every blunder is an opportunity to improve oneself.  The members of this forum have been keeping this discussion playful; no one should take any offense to any post. I will red flag any post that I believe crosses the line.

Clarity of expression may or may not be the intent of the authored work. If one is writing a shop procedure, you write for clarity for the audience. However, in patent applications and similar legal documents, the use of super colossal words, run-on  sentences and overflowing adjectives are the norm, in an attempt to obscure the details. One of the keys to effective communications is knowing your audience.

One observes mistake in others post but are myopic to their own, the brain knows what should be there, therefore a slight faux pas is often overlooked. If one were to remove oneself from the work for a period-of-time then when one returns one notices their own mistakes.  Spelling errors are difficult to detect, just as long as the first and last letters are in the right location the other letters can be all mixed up, the brain will recognizes the word. Are spelling checkers irrelevant?

RE: Is this forum really such a good idea?

"One will learn from others just by reading their posts. The posts Colloquialisms, Acronyms, American-British words,"

That'd be "post's" or more likely "posts'", and I'm not wildly keen on the capitals for two of the words in that list.


grin

Cheers

Greg Locock

RE: Is this forum really such a good idea?

It's only been a few days since I found, and joined, this site. This is my first visit to this forum, and this will be my first post.

I participate in some similar sites, which are populated by more of a "blue collar" crowd. Similar discussions have taken place on those sites, during which I have been accused of being a member of the Spelling Police. The reason for that accusation is that I am an advocate of proper spelling and grammar, regardless of who may be reading. The viewpoints you express may be perfectly valid in every way, but the credibility of those viewpoints is impacted by the manner in which you present them. Would you, as a professional, make an in person presentation to a client if you were unshowered and unshaven? The principle is the same. In this format, your "appearence", so to speak, is comprised entirely of your spelling and grammar.

An opinion rendered in sloppy spelling and grammar, at the very least, leaves room for one to wonder if the thinking behind the opinion is sloppy as well.

And, by the way, JMW writes: "...before I was very tolerant of the individualistic approach to spelling and grammar sometimes used by other engineers, if I notied it at all;..."

"Notied"??   

(Sorry, I couldn't help myself. You can be darn sure I'm running this one through a spelling checker before posting it! )   

RE: Is this forum really such a good idea?

(OP)
Welcome onboard Digger242j, i can see you're gonna fit right in!

I didn't catch that one till I'd posted.... so one day I'll learn to use the "Preview Post" button. You can see how this forum has helped me already. Before this you'd be guaranteed a big score. One little mistake is progress!

RE: Is this forum really such a good idea?

digger242j,

"appearence"?

I would buy a new spelling checker, if I were you!

RE: Is this forum really such a good idea?

Spelling and grammar checkers don't catch all of them. One has to rely own their own experiences... hmmm, sounds like engineering.

Why should a sheet of calculations for an engineering design be treated differently than the written operating procedures of the device one just designed? Paying attention to the details, is important.

Greg, I agree about post's, posts, but not comments about the capitals. Since the words that are capitalized are the title of the posts, I believe thay should be capitalized. I do however grant that I may be wrong, what is the rule?  I don't have my copy of the APA or MLS Style Manual handy.

RE: Is this forum really such a good idea?

Does this forum help?  I got out my dictionary for the first time in several years tonight.  If fear of appearing sloppy and/or unshaven has driven me that far this quickly, my opinion is that it is very successful.

David

RE: Is this forum really such a good idea?

<<digger242j,

"appearence"?

I would buy a new spelling checker, if I were you! >>

Arrrgh! That's one I should've caught myself.

Actually, because I figured it would be quicker than opening MS Word, I cut it and pasted it into an email in aol, and used the spell check feature there, before pasting it back into this post. That's probably all the explanation that's needed...    

RE: Is this forum really such a good idea?

Very good comments.  some of you may have read my post where I self corrected by going to the dictionary and finding several words I have been misusing or misunderstanding for years all as a result of this forum.  Now then ("then now" would make more sense), because of some of the comments in this thread I will immediately clean up my diction for example; I will no longer use tho in place of though.  At least one good reason is that people whose normal language is other than English might misunderstand my shorthand. It works for me!

For many years I have maintained that communication is one of mankinds' most significant problems.  Sometimes even wars break out from miscommunication.  Anything we can do to better unerstand each other should be counted as something worth the effort/fun involved.

Jesus is THE life,
Leonard

RE: Is this forum really such a good idea?

This forum is great for me. I live and work in Taiwan and find I am slowly losing my grasp of higher level english. A lot of times I have to revert to baby talk to get my point across to my well educated colleages. In Taiwan they speak what I refer to as Chinglish. After 12 years here I have given up trying to correct the locals and have adopted a sort of "when in Rome" syndrome.

To be able to banter back and forth about the idiosyncracies of my mother tounge is one of the few joys I get each day besides the crossword.

Keep this thing rolling!

RE: Is this forum really such a good idea?

Sorry,

 Colleagues

Darn this forum!!!

RE: Is this forum really such a good idea?

Spellcheckers are fairly useless.

"One has to rely own their own experiences.."

These forums are fun, and educative too .

Eng-Tips – Guru of Engineering Forums

RE: Is this forum really such a good idea?

TwnB

Why are you darning this forum?  Or is your tongue in your cheek?  Come on your hooked aren't you?

Sorry I mispelled unnerstand I mean understand in my above post.

Jesus is THE life,
Leonard

RE: Is this forum really such a good idea?

I don't see a big problem with pointing out spelling errors and the like. I do think it's important that we try to get the gist of a post in spite of any error.
I enjoy this forum. I'm about to start writing procedures again and I'm sure hanging around here will keep me on my toes.

RE: Is this forum really such a good idea?

(OP)
Gotcha Metman!
Which of these is correct:
"Or is your tongue in your cheek?  Come on your hooked aren't you?"
or:
"Or is your tongue in your cheek?  Come on you're hooked aren't you?"
Or:
"Or is ewer tongue in your cheek?  Come on ewer hooked aren't you?"

I love this! The same error twice in a day! Next thing you know I'll have a six pack and a 30.06 and be sitting in a tree ready for the next error!




RE: Is this forum really such a good idea?

Grmmar/spelling Sniper!
Keep your heads low and post quikly in a zig-zag fassion.

RE: Is this forum really such a good idea?

(OP)
RDLarsen!
Grmmar = Grandmother
Quikly = ?

The best thing is that no one knows where i live.

RE: Is this forum really such a good idea?

Hah! I've cleverly offered myself up as a decoy allowing my fellows to escape!

*cough* Medic! *cough cough*

I've always been a poor speller. I do keep a dictionary at hand. Sometimes I'll look up a word and find it spelled wrong on a proof read. I read alot and I write lots of operation and maintenance procedures. Getting the spelling and the grammar right has always been the hardest part for me.

Believe it or not my writing is better than it used to be. Now, if you want an example of horrible spelling I could scan a few pages from our plant operations log. There's a truly target rich environment.

Rick

RE: Is this forum really such a good idea?

I done gragitated!

Yesterday, I cooldn't spel enguneer.

Today, I are wun!

RE: Is this forum really such a good idea?

I think this forum is valuable. In some cases it serves to teach/correct but I think its real value is in promoting awareness.

I, too, think it's fun and get some joy out of the banter.

Unless preceded by a disclaimer, I believe that all posts made to this forum should be done fully expecting to have the errors pointed out. Of course it should be done with respect and liberal use of emoticons!

Point of Clarification:

Quote (Rich2001):

Spelling errors are difficult to detect, just as long as the first and last letters are in the right location the other letters can be all mixed up, the brain will recognizes the word.

This is not universally true. If you're interested, see the following link to a Cambridge University site.

http://www.mrc-cbu.cam.ac.uk/personal/matt.davis/Cmabrigde/

Quote (Rich2001):

Are spelling checkers irrelevant?
The problem that I have with spell checkers is that they don't recognize context. While they have their places, they're no substitute for a good vocabulary backed up by a dictionary and a critical proofreader's eye.

Several years back I read a poem in Machine Design that was comprised mainly of homophones. The poem derided spell checkers because they'd have given it a clean bill of health although it was non-sensical. I think I copied it but haven't been able to lay my hands on it.

RE: Is this forum really such a good idea?

Developing that critical proofreader's eye, isn't that an implied goal of this forum?

NanoMan, I read a mutated version of this last week in a newspaper, where it stated the research was done at MIT.

Life is a learning process, everything you write , read or hear

I'll go back and hide, now.

RE: Is this forum really such a good idea?

I think some come here to try to learn something.

I myself come here because it seems mildly entertaining. I did learn one thing by accident (two-blocked).

I also think there is probably a good percentage here that think their function is to correct others. (maybe engineers that wished they could have been English teachers?)

Some have suggested that a post with one or two words misspelled/misplaced is less effective.

My response to those people: If a reader can't get past one or two minor blemishes to understand the message, the fault is not with the writer, it is with the reader.  People who do not have an obsessive compulsion with analysing/correcting others' grammar will have no problem understanding the message.

On my work e-mail I have spell check to catch my typo's. I wouldn't dream of spell-checking or previewing my posts here.

My opinion: We should not apply the same standards to posts on the forums as we do to business correspondence.  To do so would place an unreasonable burden on the participants to invest more time in composing and checking their posts than is warranted by the situation.

=====================================
Eng-tips forums: The best place on the web for engineering discussions.

RE: Is this forum really such a good idea?

(OP)
Thanks Electric Pete,
I am being torn between my natural inclination to let the spelling sort itself out and the strong arguments that presentation is important.

The trouble is that both sides of the argument have a great deal of logic to them. I would like to be better at spelling (I'm improving), better grammatically (I get really ticked with Word when it insists i am using the passive voice, but then i spend far too long trying to change the sentance structure around and keep getting the same message. I've tried going to the tools menu to set up grammar checking but the option i want, "laid back", isn't one that Mr Gates will allow me).

We are talking about getting the message across. The problem is if the recipient has the brain to understand in the first place.

I had one business manager who would carefully read every report. He never wrote his own reports or constructed a response. As a substitute he would return the original report annotated with tiny writing which, when decyphered, [proved to be spelling corrections. He would carefully insert commas, correct case and introduce paragraph marks.
He would have been well employed by one of the publishing houses but not in an engineering company. It soon became evident he had no idea what anyone was talking about and the biggest mystery (after how he got the job) was how he managed to arrive at his (flawed) decisions.

RE: Is this forum really such a good idea?

ElectricPete:

With respect to posts in general, I agree with you; spelling and grammar are less important. In the context of this particular forum, given that it's a language/grammar skills forum, such correction seems reasonable.

I think a lot of the pointing out of mistakes is in fun... "a-ha! Gotcha!"

On being an English teacher, yuck! Math, physics, chemistry, or molecular biology, sure, but English... not me.

RE: Is this forum really such a good idea?

Electricpete wrote:

"My response to those people: If a reader can't get past one or two minor blemishes to understand the message, the fault is not with the writer, it is with the reader.  People who do not have an obsessive compulsion with analyzing/correcting others' grammar will have no problem understanding the message."

(How do you do that neat quote box thing by-the-way?)

I agree to a point.  I do not get too disturbed over a few spelling errors, typos, or minor errors of grammar in something I am reading, and have no compulsion to point them out to the author in an informal setting such as this forum.  However, at some point such errors -- especially those of grammar -- can render the author's intent unintelligible.

In my work I review vast quantities of detailed technical documents of the type that absolutely require precision and a lack of ambiguity.  Far too often poor grammar and poor logical structure render the material incomprehensible or subject to multiple interpretation.  Many of these documents are written by people whose first language is not English.  Frighteningly though, many are also written by people whose first language is English.

In this situation I have no option other than to reject the document as unsuitable for its intended purpose, and insist on a rewrite.

As to the matter of applying the same standards to informal communications such as this forum as we do to business correspondence, my opinion is this:

Clearly this and similar forums are casual in nature, and I read posts with a far less critical eye than I read business material.  I do not count on others to do the same with my posts, nor do I use the informality of this venue as an excuse to write poorly.  While I do not proof-read and edit a post, e-mail or similar casual communication with the same degree of care that I do something that goes on letterhead, I do proof-read and edit EVERYTHING that I write, in any situation.

Good writing is a learned skill, and like any learned skill it requires practice to remain proficient.  


RE: Is this forum really such a good idea?

Quote (MintJulep):

(How do you do that neat quote box thing by-the-way?)
was accomplished with the following TGML.

[quote MintJulep](How do you do that neat quote box thing by-the-way?)[/quote]

RE: Is this forum really such a good idea?

Good points raised in response to my comments.

It seems natural and healthy that there will be varying opinions on the subject.  

I didn't mean to imply that people have no right to suggest corrections (particularly in this forum). Only that we shouldn't judge people too harshly based on a fewe spelling or grammatical erors here and ther.

=====================================
Eng-tips forums: The best place on the web for engineering discussions.

RE: Is this forum really such a good idea?

Yes, my tongue was firmly planted in cheek when writing that.

RE: Is this forum really such a good idea?

MintJ,
I largely agree with you.  for example I usually read my posts before submittal and tend to edit as I write sentence by sentence because my typing is worse than my spelling.

On the other hand;

Thanks jmw for the multiple choice,
I choose "Or is your tongue in your cheek?  Come on you're hooked aren't you?"

How will I know if I need correction if I miss it myself and nobody points it out to me?  Fire away but don't expect me to always fire away with the same relish.  Some things turn me on other things turn me off some things make me passiontely aggressive or even livid.  And then there is you who are unique.  Should that be is unique?  However I must needs to use constraint when leaning toward lividness and not fire back too quickly.

Jesus is THE life,
Leonard

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