One thing is clear: I write. Badly. Let’s face it – some people have a way with words and some people — well — not have way.
The pen is mightier than the sword, or in this case, the written word. And my sword is dull. I live and die on the ability to edit.
On my own blog this works fairly well. I can go back and edit and re-edit and re-edit again until I’ve cleaned up about 10 percent of the most glaring errors. Then the post is deemed good-to-go. Yes, I have my standards.
On my own blog I am the King. I wield godlike powers over what I have written. I edit with a ruthlessness all my own. I hack and slash words like there is no tomorrow. I correct the spelling of words that got past me and my built-in spellchecker. I fix words that my spellchecker recommended in error that I foolishly accepted. I fix words that even though quite badly misspelled somehow matched something valid in the dictionary. (Keyboard monkey alert!) And finally I go back and read third time with my “reader’s hat” and trim away any unneeded fluffy words. (This step is pure fiction. I never actually trim out any fluffy words. They are all my babies, little bundles of joy that I have birthed. I’m not about to take them out.)
On the other hand, sometimes I venture out onto other people’s blogs…
There I am rendered a stark naked shadow of my former self, all my powers stripped away, left impotent and helpless.
If I make a mistake on a comment, well that is just too damn bad. I’ll have to eat it for all eternity. (Or until the next database glitch, whichever comes first.)
Maybe I decide to share about my stress level and manually type into someone’s WordPress comment field: “Please don’t write to me for the next couple of days. I’m extremely busty right now.” Oops. My bad. Too late. I already clicked the dreaded “Submit Comment” button.
So I have a suggestion for the good folks at WordPress that will fix this once and for all. Give each blog administrator the option to allow editing of comments. Those who don’t want to enable the option, fine. Things will remain exactly as they stand today.
So why not allow comments to be edited? What’s the case against this? Well, for one thing it allows “take backs.” It represents a loss of control for the blog owner. For another, once comments have been saved and replied to, a sneaky person could return and edit their original comment to make the following replies look like they came from a bunch of dumb asses. Nobody wants that, right? (I’m trying to look innocent here.)
For the rest of us, however, a workable solution could go a little something like this:
- The blog owner would enable “Allow users to edit comments.”
- Commenters would be allowed to revise and edit their own comments as they wished. Each edit would provide an explanation field that could be used to alert the blog owner as to exactly why the edit had been requested.
- Any edits would be saved to an “edit moderation queue.”
- The blog owner would review all edits in a preview mode that showed the original comment (unaltered) and the requested edit side-by-side, with all differences highlighted in color. (Much like the way the edit history function works on Wikipedia.)
- The blog owner would then approve or deny all requests as they see fit.
I think this would be a fantastic solution and would allow people to fix their own mistakes like obvious typos, broken URLs, etc.
Think about it, WordPress, will ya?
Ever go back and re-read your previously written blog posts? I’m a glutton for pain and humiliation so I often do. For me, reading my own writing can be a lot like seeing a picture of myself or hearing the sound of my own voice. It makes me throw up a little in my mouth.
So I try to re-read my own stuff, mainly to make sure it reads well and I don’t sound like a friggin’ idiot. And you know what? I always do sound like an idiot! Some of the grammatical errors and typos are so glaring that a reasonable person would be forced to ask: Just what the hell was he on when he wrote that?
A good friend taught me long ago about the three hats of writing, and I’ve always tried to wear those hats when composing my blog posts. It’s somewhat sobering that even after that process so many typos and errors still remain. The goal of the three hats exercise is to separate the writing process into distinct and separate steps that force you to consider what you have written from different perspectives.
The first hat is “create.” You concentrate on writing without worrying too much about how it sounds, spelling, grammar and what not. Just turn it on and let it flow. Try not to over-think what you are doing.
The second hat is “edit.” You roll up your sleeves and mercilessly slice it up. You are looking for typos, bad grammar, checking facts, etc. When you do edit a sentence, perhaps moving things around a bit, be sure to go back and re-read, re-read, re-read! If I had a dime for every time I edited a sentence and left it sounding funny …
The third hat is “read.” This is where you clear your mind, let everything else go and try to look at the piece with fresh eyes and consume your work from a reader’s point of view. How does it flow? What is the tone? Are the ideas making sense and coming across the way you intended?
You’d think three hats would be enough, but the next day I go back and re-read the post and, “Gack! I can’t believe I didn’t see that. The whole world thinks I’m stupid!”
I just started my day by fixing five distinct grammatical errors in yesterday’s post about angry songs. Maybe I should have been listening to something more soothing.