I had one of THOSE moments yesterday: I finished a review, proofread it for the third time, hit “publish”… and then immediately found a case of glaring apostrophe abuse — horror of horrors! Easily fixed, but what if I hadn’t caught it?
We all know that errors slip through no matter how diligent we are about proofreading. So here’s my question: If a goof slips by you, would you want to know? And in what circumstances?
Twice in the last few months, while visiting a blog for the first time, I’ve notice typos in pretty prominent places. In one case, the typo was an extra letter in one of the blog’s menu titles on the sidebar — something that every single visitor to the blog would see. In the second case, I saw a typo on a graphic that the blogger uses for a repeating feature. I thought about it, because I know some people get very touchy when they feel they’re being criticized. But I applied the “would I want to know?” yardstick, and decided that yes, if I had an error in a header on one of my pages, I would absolutely want to know so I could fix it. In both cases, I emailed the blog host privately and told her what I’d noticed (and made sure to express — honestly — that I really enjoyed visiting the blog and just wanted to help), and in both cases I got very nice responses along the lines of “Oh my god, I can’t believe I didn’t catch that, thank you so much!”
It got me thinking: When is it a good idea to let someone know about a problem on their blog? And when is it intrusive or offensive?
For me, applying the “would I want to know” approach, I can see a variety of answers, depending on the situation.
For a typo or spelling error in a blog title, page title, graphic, or something similarly prominent — yes, absolutely!
For a typo, punctuation problem, etc in the body of a blog post… well, maybe. It seems kind of embarrassing to have something like that pointed out. It was probably just a case of working too quickly, and it’s a minor detail. On the other hand, if I’d repeatedly gotten something wrong (like misspelling a character’s name over and over again), I’d probably like the chance to fix it, if it’s an important element.
For a missing image or a broken link — yes, absolutely! If something I’d intentionally included in a post stops working or connects to the wrong place, I’d love for someone to tell me. Again, easily fixable, so I’d imagine anyone would appreciate a heads-up on something like this.
“Annoying” or otherwise problematic layout issues — well, most likely not. Listen, I don’t really like certain looks on blogs, such as hard-to-read fonts, not enough or too much contrast between background and text, etc, but each blogger comes up with a look that works for him or her, and I would never second-guess someone else’s taste or style. I think I’d only want to know if something was causing technical glitches such as slow page loads or other such issues. Unless a blogger specifically asks (“hey, what do you think of my new design?” or “which color you do you prefer?”), it’s a no-win situation offering input on something as personal as the look of a blog. Kind of like telling someone you don’t like their hair style or the shirt they’re wearing. Unless the person (or blogger) is your bestie, it’s probably not going to go over well.
Factual errors — hmm, that’s a tough one. I suppose if I stated something that’s just out and out wrong (oh, like Stephen King is the author of A Game of Thrones or Anne Rice won the Nobel Prize), I’d appreciate some fact-checking. But there are a lot of shades of gray when it comes to “wrong”, and one person’s helpful hint might be someone else’s slap in the face.
Have you ever contacted a blogger about an error? How was it received?
Share your thoughts, please!