What your blog says about your company

I wish I had stopped reading the Yahoo! corporate blog, Yodel Anecdotal, right after seeing this headline:

It wasn’t the missing hyphens in what should be back-to-school that got me. It was the misspelling of Farnoosh Torabi — a Yahoo! employee and the subject of the blog post — that had me anticipating the worst and wondering how mistakes like that happen. This was the company blog, after all. It represents the company and its commitment to its readers, its employees, and its shareholders. It is so badly written that any third-grader could have done better.

What does this post say about Yahoo!? That it can’t be bothered with editing and proofreading. One sentence with a missing comma, an apostrophe used to form a plural, a bit of redundancy, a bit of verb nonsense, and something about back to school that I think means “back-to-school shopping”:

Clearly, nobody cares about this sad little company blog, because there’s just more nonsense here, which I don’t even want to discuss:

Somebody with some basic knowledge of English vocabulary would have used a different word here:

And someone who attended college would know that there are more than these two options when your kids go to college: They can live on campus or rent an apartment. The writer doesn’t even consider that students can live in a sorority or fraternity house, rent a room, or live at home or with relatives. Those are not options. But Yahoo! provides a calculator that can help ascertain which of the two options is better:

According to the blog, if “you agree to the latter,” you are agreeing to a co-signer. Not to be a co-signer, which might actually make sense. And if you consider there’s only one kind of “bad behavior” — which the writer doesn’t name — then somehow you know it will affect your credit records.

Lordie, I guess this “sentence” should come as no surprise to me:

What does this blog say about Yahoo!? My guess is, no one at Yahoo! cares about the blog because no one reads it.

What is wrong with yahoo.com?

There are always errors on the Yahoo! front page, but it seems that lately they have multiplied. Could the Internet giant be outsourcing the writing to a non-English-speaking country? Or are internal changes and a drop in stock price responsible? Terrible typos, capitalization catastrophes, grammatical goofs, wayward words, and pointless punctuation abound. What’s behind all the errors?

Even when the day isn’t going your way, don’t you think you should proofread to make sure you used the correct word?

Even if you’re under a tight deadline, wouldn’t you check the capitalization of Jean-Claude Van Damme’s name?

And couldn’t you do a quick read, just to see if you omitted a word?

Don’t you think a professional journalist would know that Western is capitalized when it refers to a region of the United States?

Shouldn’t you expect a writer or editor to know that the correct word is that, and not which? Wouldn’t you think that a writer would decide if Taliban is plural or singular, but not both?

Couldn’t you spot a typo that never should have seen the light of day?

Isn’t it common knowledge that an apostrophe isn’t used to create a plural of years or decades?

What’s going on at yahoo.com? Or is this just what readers can expect from now on?

What you need to know

The most important thing to know about anything you read that was written by a Yahoo! staffer: Don’t believe it. You might assume because you read this on Yahoo! News that Dutch Ruppersberger is a Republican:

He’s not. (He’s a Democrat.) And you might assume that there’s a hotel in Washington, DC called JW Marriot. There isn’t. (But there is a JW Marriott.) And you might assume that the writer is familiar with basic English grammar. He’s not. (That “program that” should be “program, which.”)

And that’s what you need to know.

Wait! Wait! It’s Nikki Tait

The senior foreign affairs reporter for Yahoo! News‘ “The Envoy” made no effort to find the correct spelling of Nikki Tait’s name. (Seriously, you couldn’t Google her name?)

That’s the worst of these errors. Sticklers for correct grammar know that the correct word is that and not which and that the adverbs extremely domestically (which both modify unpopular) are awkward.

That changes everything

A simple slip of the fingers, a little missing word here, an extra word there. How bad can it be? In the case of an article about Sharron Angle, a conservative Republican candidate and pro-lifer,  the result can be disastrous. 

The article, appearing on Yahoo! Shine, starts off with the minor errors I’ve come to expect from anything written by a Yahoo! staffer.  The show name should be in quotation marks or italics (whichever is the standard for Yahoo!, assuming there is a style standard). That which should be that.

But the unforgivable error is the claim that Sharron Angle “maintained that she supported abortion.” One wrong word changed Ms. Angle from a pro-life to a pro-choice candidate.

After that incredible blunder, the rest of the article is relatively error-free — except for the missing word here and the misplaced question mark, which belongs after the quotation mark:

Oh, and the typo here and the hyphen missing from well-being:

I’ve often written about the negative effect typos have on a writer’s credibility. It’s no coincidence that a writer who is sloppy when it comes to grammar and punctuation also makes factual errors.

A sad tribute to World Press Freedom Day

It’s World Press Freedom Day, but the world press doesn’t get much respect from the Yahoo! Events team. In a tribute to the world’s journalists, Yahoo! manages to make at least one factual error:

WPFD  wasn’t “created” in 1997; it was proclaimed by the UN in 1993. After a mistake like that, it shouldn’t come as a surprise that the writer would undercapitalize UNESCO, use which when that is called for, and omit a word or two.

It’s not much of a tribute to Amira Hass when you misspell her name:

I wonder how this typo got by the spell-checker:

I don’t know who’s responsible for this ad on the site, but I think they could use a proofreader:

I don’t recommend they employ a Yahoo! proofreader.

The capital is missing

Looks like the writer for the blog of the Yahoo! Newsroom coasted through today’s assignment. When it refers to the U.S. region bordering the Atlantic Ocean, East Coast deserves two capital letters:

news blog 1

In this sentence, either which should be that or a town should be deleted:

news blog 2

There’s another choice the writer should have made: pleaded or pled, two acceptable past tenses of the verb plead. At least the writer spelled the past tense of receive correctly, though the verb should be receive.

Emitting a guffaw

I nearly emitted a guffaw when I read this on Yahoo! Movies:

remit movies

I don’t think the writer understands the meaning of remit or when to use that instead of which.

That which should be that

Does it take a nitpicky editor to note the use of which instead of that on the Yahoo! front page?


Grammar nerds will note that the nonrestrictive clause, which isn’t necessary to uniquely identify the object it modifies,  requires which. The clause that is necessary to identify the object it modifies is restrictive and requires that.

When an ‘undo’ is too late

In a Yahoo! Shine post about Gmail’s new “Undo” button, the writer could use a similar feature for blogs:


A spelling and grammar checker would be helpful, too. It might replace that with the correct which, put quotation marks around send, spell realize correctly, and change the typo you to your. Maybe it could even figure out why the writer is saying something about chopping off a donut:


Hmm. Those errors are really awkward, aren’t they? An “Undo” button might be useful, but a better option? Don’t publish anything before you’ve proofread it.

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