Should You Correct That Thing on the Internet Quiz
by HSW
You see it (or maybe hear it) right there: It's on the Internet, and it's not right. You're sure of it. It beckons you, "Correct me! Point me out! Tell everyone how wrong I am, and how right you are!" But … should you, really?

Is it pedantry?

  • No. Water is made of hydrogen and oxygen, not hydrogen and carbon. That's an actual error.
  • Yes. But somebody has to set the record straight. It's not just that Han shot first. Han shot. The end. Stop saying "Han shot first."
  • What's pedantry?

Did you start by saying, "Well, actually … "

  • No.
  • Yes.

Could the mistake cause harm?

  • Absolutely. Your instructions on CPR are incorrect, and they could kill somebody.
  • No, but that's not how people in Australia say "emu," and you should really get it right.

Could the mistake cause embarrassment?

  • Yes. Your host is going to be absolutely mortified when she realizes she said "Strom Thurmond" but meant "Thurgood Marshall."
  • No, but seriously, you have got to understand that sometimes "data" DOES take a singular verb.

Is it an issue of personal preference?

  • No. I have no personal preferences on the transposed numerals in your tax tables.
  • Well, yes. I hate vocal fry and I think you should fire anyone who uses it from your podcasts.

Is it a matter of opinion?

  • No. France and Greece do not share a border.
  • Yes. I didn't like this article. I thought it sucked, and I'm not giving you any constructive detail on why.
  • Yes, because you specifically asked for people to submit their opinions.

Can the mistake be fixed?

  • Yes, it's there on your website in an article you just published.
  • No, I found it in a scan of a first-edition copy of an out-of-print book that you linked to from your article.

Is your comment related to the person's gender, race or other personal trait?

  • No, it's a misspelled word.
  • No, I just need this podcaster to know that she sounds shrill. Shrill and uptalky. And she's way too bossy. Also vocal fry, again.

Are you sure your correction is correct?

  • Absolutely. I confirmed it in a reliable reference work before sending it.
  • Absolutely. My uncle told me it's chemicals in the water that make us see rainbows in the sprinklers.

And it's just the correction … no insults or personal judgments?

  • Yes. The capital of North Carolina is Raleigh, but page 3 says it's Charlotte.
  • Hey: You spelled "fuchsia" wrong. Mistakes like this really make people question the quality of your website, in case you didn't know. You should really consider hiring editors who know what they are doing.

And it's constructive?

  • Yes. My goal is just to note a problem that can be fixed, not to rake somebody over the coals about it.
  • You are terrible and your work is terrible and I don't know why anyone comes to your site anymore.