Subject-matter knowledge purely optional

Some writing gigs require that writers be familiar with some specialized subject matter. But Yahoo! has no such arbitrary restrictions on its writers. Subject-area experts need not apply to write for Yahoo!.

The writer for Yahoo! omg!, Yahoo!’s celebrity and entertainment news site, can’t spell Kristin Chenoweth:

The one for Yahoo! Shine, Yahoo!’s women’s site, can’t spell the names of two women: Morticia Addams:

and Jordyn Wieber:

The movie maven on Yahoo! Movies doesn’t know Ronald Colman:

and doesn’t know that he’s not a fabric softener, he’s Robert Downey Jr.:

and she’s the actress Erin Wilhelmi:

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7 Responses to “Subject-matter knowledge purely optional”

  1. Shane O'Neill (@ONeillio) Says:

    I have noticed that you use ‘and’ or ‘but’ at the start of proper sentences. It’s a rule I’m a bit muddy on. What’s the general (or modern) consensus on the use of conjunctions to commence a sentence?

    • Laura Says:

      According to most authorities (maybe all authorities), starting a sentence with “and” or “but” is not wrong, especially in informal writing (like a blog). According to Grammar Girl, it’s “acceptable to start a sentence with coordinating conjunctions like and, but, and so. It’s a somewhat informal style, and it’s a good idea not to overdo it in business writing, but it’s not wrong.”

      The blog for the Oxford dictionaries says: “[T]he heart of the ban on starting a sentence with ‘and’ or ‘but’ seems to lie in the fact that they are coordinating rather than subordinating conjunctions, and as such are typically used to link elements of equal status within a sentence. The argument against using ‘and’ or ‘but’ to introduce a sentence is that such a sentence expresses an incomplete thought (or ‘fragment’) and is therefore incorrect.

      “However, this is a stylistic preference rather than a grammatical ‘rule’. If your teachers or your organization are inflexible about this issue, then you should respect their opinion, but ultimately, it’s just a point of view and you’re not being ungrammatical. If you want to defend your position, you can say that it’s particularly useful to start a sentence with these conjunctions if you’re aiming to create a dramatic or forceful effect.”

  2. Shane O'Neill (@ONeillio) Says:

    Thanks for clearing that up. I suppose it’s a matter of preference. Keep up the good work.

    • Laura Says:

      It’s not wrong. But some people believe it is, and it they sign your paycheck, listen to them. But you can do what you want on your blog.

  3. Wyrd Smythe Says:

    It was almost 30 years ago that a friend who worked in advertising criticized a piece I’d written, saying that I should avoid compound sentences. Modern writing, she told me, should be “punchy.” Given that I have a tendency to run on, it was good advice. And it’s true that compound sentences are a lot more common in older text.

    The rationale against ‘and’ and ‘but’ doesn’t really exist for compound sentences, where the comma and conjunction join independent clauses. To give ones writing punch, I was told to always consider making those compounds separate. And that was good advice for me; I just adore run-on sentences!


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