Typos, blunders, and goofs: How much do you want to know?

head-37512_150I 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!

smiley-150651_150For 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.

mark-25527_150What’s your take on the issue? When would you want a reader to let you know if they spot a goof on your blog — and when would it be unsolicited (and unwanted) meddling?

Have you ever contacted a blogger about an error? How was it received?

Share your thoughts, please!

16 thoughts on “Typos, blunders, and goofs: How much do you want to know?

  1. Hmmm, I’d definitely want to know if there were glaring typos or blunders on my blog, I think. I like everything to be in the right place. XD

    I’m hesitant about contacting anyone if I spot errors, though, because I don’t want to come across as a know-it-all or something. At university, I proofread a lot of essays because I had a bit of a reputation, hahaha.

    • Right, I really thought long and hard before contacting the person who had a typo in a sidebar header, because I didn’t want to come across as pushy or condescending. But in the end, it kind of felt to me like a broccoli-in-your-teeth moment. It might be embarrassing to be told about it, but it’s so much worse if no one tells you and you realize you spent an entire party with green stuff in your teeth! :)

  2. I probably have in the past, when I was blogging a lot on my personal blog and had a group of online bloggy friends. I still have that blog but it isn’t as active. I haven’t contacted any blogger to correct them since becoming a book blogger because I don’t think I’ve noticed anything big enough to point out. I’ve seen a few typos in posts but hey those happen, and no one wants to be nit-picked. So I agree with your way of thinking about it – if it is a major issue in the main part of the blog or in a graphic, yea I would want to know and I would want someone to tell me, so I would likely tell someone. If I had fat finger syndrome on a post or two, well, gimme a break lol.

  3. I would definitely want to know if I had a major mistake in my sidebar, post title, graphic, etc. I did once make a Top Ten Tuesday graphic with “Tuesday” mispelled. Luckily, I think I’d put it on only one post, so I just fixed it–but it was on the blog for awhile. I’m not sure if no one else noticed or no one told me.

    I have had followers mention typos in my posts occasionally, which I do appreciate. I don’t want everyone who visits to think I can’t spell. I particularly appreciate corrections if the typo actually makes a sentence difficult to understand. As long as someone points it out tactfully, I’m fine with it!

    I agree factual errors are harder to deal with. Of course, I would want to correct anything completely wrong (the examples you gave are good ones), but there can be gray lines in other areas. Unfortunately, I think even if someone tried really hard to be polite, I’d still feel really, really embarrassed if someone had to point out I’d gotten something like an author name wrong!

    • Yeah, it’s hard not to feel mortified in some situations — the idea that I put something out for anyone to see and there’s something glaringly wrong would bother me so badly. (So maybe it’s a good thing that I don’t get 1,000 views a day? LOL). You’re right, I think tact is key. There’s a difference between someone nicely pointing something out to me in order to be helpful — vs the kind of comments I see sometimes on Goodreads, insulting people’s intelligence because of a typo. Gah! Oh, that Top Ten Tuesday typo sounds so frustrating! Lucky you caught it so quickly. :)

  4. Typos, broken links, stuff like that… I’d absolutely want to know. We’re all terrible at editing our own work, and stuff is bound to slip through occasionally. As for the “annoying” category, I’d never make comments about any of that sort of thing, and I’d probably be annoyed if someone decided to tell me how I could improve my blog. There are plenty of things on my personal pet peeve list, and the most I ever do is make passive aggressive comments on Twitter and vent with others who feel the same (*cough*CAPTCHA*cough*). Unless, as you said, the blogger is specifically asking for feedback, my own personal opinion really doesn’t matter.

    The one grey area that I come across occasionally is when someone is negatively reviewing a book (even if it’s not a negative review overall, but just pointing out some part they didn’t like), and the reason they didn’t like it is because of something they’re misinterpreting, or at least something that I read differently. Complaining that something never got explained when actually it did. That sort of thing. In those instances I really want to say something, but I never do. It just comes a little too close to calling their opinion of the book invalid.

    • Yes, I can see how that’s a fine line… although really, if they’re completely misstating something important about the book’s plot, it might be worth offering a counter-opinion (like “hmm, I interpreted it to mean…”). Then again, it’s their review and their blog, so letting it go is probably smarter. (I feel differently about awful/ranty Goodreads reviews that are just plain wrong about something; that’s a different kind of public forum, and can actually hurt a book’s success if it’s incorrect information vs just a negative review.)

      I’m definitely in favor of the passive-aggressive comments on Twitter! At least there, it’s not aimed at any one individual, and chances are the person/blog you’re venting about will either never see it. Yeah, and I think CAPTCHA is stupid and annoying, FWIW.

      • The other thing too is that if I’m moved to comment about something on Twitter, it’s more likely than not something that’s been irritating me for a while. One person might have triggered it, but they’re far from the only one. So I guess the hope is that if someone I’m complaining about (intentionally or inadvertently) does see it that they don’t take it personally. If I say, “I hate ads,” it doesn’t mean that I hate every blog that uses ads.

  5. I would totally want someone to tell me if I’ve gotten something wrong on the blog and it was very noticeable. Like your examples, if something on a graphic was misspelled, I totally want to know. As for the body of the review, I get more embarrassed, heh. For those cases, I would only like to be corrected if I got say the author wrong or something like that. As for image links, broken images, etc, I definitely want to know if there’s something wrong in the technical side of my blog. :O

    Love this post! :D

    • Thanks! I started thinking about this when something came up again this week, and then I thought that we all must stumble across the blog goof issue from time to time, whether as the person noticing an error or the one who gets an error pointed out! There are so many fine lines when it comes to blogging and etiquette, and sometimes it’s so hard to know whether something you’d be fine with would be upsetting to someone else. I guess we all just do our best, right? :)

  6. I think if it’s a really small error like a typo or sth, I wouldn’t let the blogger know because it’s not sth they’re likely to repeat. But definitely, if it’s in the sidebar or header or whatever, I would because it’s something you see every time you go on the blog.

    ugh layout issues. I personally really hate it when a blog has a black background and white writing because my eyes hurt when reading. Also when there are clashing colours on a post it’s like MY EYES ARE BURNING! But I never mention it because it’s really only bloggers that I don’t know that well who have that sort of layout. I mean, if it was someone I knew well enough I might mention it because it’s definitely the sort of thing I’d want someone to tell me (you know, if my blog was physically painful on the eyes haha)

    You know what else I always want to complain about? When a blog has captcha. I FREAKING HATE CAPTCHA WITH A PASSION. It would please me greatly if captcha was destroyed in the fires of Mt Doom. But again, if it’s a blogger I don’t know well I feel awkward bringing it up :/

    I think I’ve only let a few people know about mistakes- one was a typo in a tab name and one was a misspelt character name in a review. Both bloggers seemed to be fine with it- but then again, they were bloggers I knew well, so I felt ok with telling them haha

    woops, really long comment. my bad :P

    • I love long comments! :) I appreciate your being so thorough. I hate CAPTCHA too, especially because I get it wrong about half the time. Somehow those squishy letters don’t make sense to my eyes. Yeah, I also hate black backgrounds with white text — ouch! I just have such an aversion to certain eye-watering looks that I can’t read the blogs, even if the content really interests me. Glad to know I’m not alone!

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  8. I would really appreciate people correcting my typos or some factual errors, because it’s probably something I missed and I appreciate someone telling me so I can change it. Especially typo’s though, because I’m not a native English speaker so maybe the typo I made is something I’m not even aware of that it is wrong. But I understand that people don’t have the time to do that and I don’t expect them too. I just hope I don’t make spelling/grammar mistakes that often (I don’t think so, though, but you never know).

    I won’t comment on someone’s mistake, because like I said, I’m not a native speaker. I’ll probably assume I have it wrong! If it’s an obvious mistake, like for example a misspelling of an author’s name or a book title, I can see those but I’m not sure what I’ll do. If it’s a relative new blog and I don’t know the blogger, I’m not quick to correct them because I don’t know if they would want that or not. If it’s a blog from someone I know well, I would correct them (if I know for sure they would appreciate it). I am however always worried of offending someone!

    • I agree, especially for someone I haven’t interacted with before, I’d be worried about offending someone. But at the same, I know I’d rather have someone tell me if they see a big error on my blog! I’m much more comfortable if it’s a blogger I know or have some sort of connection to — then it’s clearly a case of a friend helping a friend, less chance for misunderstanding. Thanks for sharing your thoughts! :)

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