New isn’t always better

The Yahoo! Health site has been completely redesigned. But it brings with it more articles written by Yahoo! staffers and hence, more and more errors.

Here’s an example; it’s not the worst writing you’ll see on Yahoo!. It’s just bad enough to make me skeptical of the accuracy of the content.

Are there less opportunities to exercise outside? No, there are fewer opportunities to exercise outside, so people are getting less exercise and doing fewer exercises:

overeat health 1

Actually, wrecking havoc would be a good thing. Better to wreck havoc than to wreak havoc (which means “to bring about” havoc):

overeat health 2

I can’t begin to fathom why the writer thought this apostrophe was necessary:

overeat health 3

Don’t look here for medical info

Yahoo! Health has gotten a makeover! This is supposed to be an improvement, I suppose, over its previous incarnation. But is the content any better? If you’re seeking accurate information about health that’s also well-written, I suggest you look elsewhere. Here’s what I found in just the first article I tried to read:

wiki health 1

The verb fess, derived from the verb confess, is not considered a contraction of confess. It’s just fess; no apostrophe required.

I thought the name of this journal was a little odd; that’s because the real name is the “Journal of Medical Internet Research.” And that claim that 90 percent of medical information on Wikipedia is inaccurate? That’s wrong, too.

wiki health 2

The truth is that a study of Wikipedia information on ten common medical issues revealed that nine of the ten articles contained an error. NOT 90 percent of all medical information. That’s a huge difference and one that illustrates the writer’s inability to grasp a simple fact.

If the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists (which for some strange reason is italicized) is a government website, that’s news to me. I’m sure it’s also news to ACOG:

wiki health 3

Looking for accurate health and medical information? Follow the writer’s advice and try WebMD.

‘Tis a mystery

The apostrophe is a useful little mark. It’s often used to indicate where a letter is missin’ in a contraction. So, what letter did the writer think was missing in this opening paragraph on Yahoo! Travel?

tis apost travel

Is tis’ a contraction for tisk? tisp? ‘Tis a mystery, it is.

One day’s errors

How many errors can you find on Yahoo! in a single day? Too many to count. There’s at least one on Yahoo! Celebrity:

three months omg

There’s an apostrophe missing in what should be three months’ rainfall.

If you’re unsure about including an apostrophe in an expression involving a number and a unit of measurement, substitute one for the number. If the unit of measurement is plural, then you’ve got what some call a quasi possessive. So, in the expression three months rainfall, substitute the number one: One months rainfall (not one month rainfall) sounds right, so it’s a quasi possessive requiring an apostrophe.

Some common quasi possessive you’re likely to come across: two weeks’ pay, ten years’ experience, one hour’s worth.

Is it contagious?

It’s not often you’ll find a totally random apostrophe on the Yahoo! front page, so imagine my surprise when I found one here:

fp cops apost

and then on the home page of Yahoo! Sports:

fans apost sports

I cannot imagine what made those writers add an apostrophe to those words. Is it an attempt to make them plural? Or to make them possessives? Anyone?

Keeping it at arm’s length

Even if the writer for Yahoo! Beauty had used an apostrophe in the idiom “arm’s length,” I think this would still be wrong:

arms length

The idiom “arm’s length” means “a distance that physical or social contact is discouraged” (American Heritage Dictionary). So what would it mean to keep something “within arm’s length”? I think the writer meant “within easy reach.”

How many fashion shows?

If you believe what you read on Yahoo! Shine, then you’d think that Burberry and designer Tom Ford had a joint fashion show in London:

hats 1

Well, that’s a lie. They didn’t join up in London. The fashion show that the author refers to is strictly a Burberry affair. I have no idea why the writer dragged Mr. Ford into the mix. Just like I have no idea why she dragged a hyphen into this adverb and adjective mix:

hats 2

Or why she dragged an apostrophe into this plural:

hats 3

Perhaps she was confused about the location of the apostrophe (does it go before or after the S?), so she put it before and after the S, even though it doesn’t belong in 1990s:

hats 4

Were the “mall rats” buying droves of hats? It’s kinda hard to picture that since droves means “a large mass of people.”

Arousing suspicion

I suspect that the writers and/or editors over at Yahoo! Shine haven’t been trained in the wonder that is punctuation. If they had been, they’d know enough not to put the question mark here:

paradise quest

The question mark belongs after the closing quotation mark because the entire sentence is a question.

I suspect the writer didn’t look up the spelling of Lil’ Kim; if she had, she’d know there’s an apostrophe missing here:

lil kim shine

So, when the writers aren’t dropping punctuation marks, they’re adding them where they don’t belong, like here:

post-partum shine

The word is postpartum, without a hyphen.

And my favorite mistake, arousing my suspicion that no one at Yahoo! cares about spelling, is this misspelling:

arrousing shine

I’m wont to complain and I won’t stop

Does a single little punctuation mark make a difference in a sentence? Sometimes, yes. Consider the missing apostrophe in what should be won’t on Yahoo! Sports:

wont sports hp

The word wont as a verb means “to make accustomed to” or “to be in the habit of.” The writer meant won’t, a contraction of will not.

It’s a new one

Some mistakes are so common on Yahoo!, that I’ve just about given up reporting on them. How many times can I explain the difference between its and it’s before I want to jam a pencil in my eyes? But this time, it’s a little different. A lot different. Skip past the overcapitalized commander-in-chief and focus of the worst case of an unnecessary apostrophe:

its apost tv

That’s a first for me. Never underestimate the punctuation creativity of the writers for Yahoo! TV.

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