You write the top, I’ll write the bottom

In this episode of “You Write the Top, I’ll Write the Bottom,” we find that writers for can’t agree of computer body is an unfamiliar term, an ironic term, or maybe a nickname. Couldn’t they at least agree on whether it needed to be in quotation marks? No.

fp computer body

‘Pino the Frog’ Pelosi. No, not that Pelosi

How many mistakes can one person cram into one brief paragraph? If the writer works for Yahoo! Movies, quite a few.

It starts with the inexplicable hyphenation of Italian director, as if it were a compound adjective (it’s not). Then it moves on to what should be Giuseppe “Pino the Frog” Pelosi, followed by missing hyphens in 17-year-old, and a misspelled hustler (or possibly buster):

This isn’t the worst writing to come out of Yahoo!. It actually is just more of the same.

Steve Jobs deserves better

When a well-known person passes away, the Web is awash with tributes. In a departure, the senior feature editor for Yahoo! Shine has written something of a tribute to the women in Steve Jobs’ life. Unfortunately, it turns out to be a grab bag of errors that’s more insulting than inspiring.

Mr. Jobs has been described as a private person and a brilliant egoist. Who knew that his wife Laurene shared those traits?

We all know that the writer made a mistake by placing that phrase before Laurene. But what can you expect from a writer who doesn’t know that Buddhist is a proper noun and the compound modifier billion-dollar needs a hyphen?

Mr. Jobs’ birth mother was a graduate student:

He was an 11-year-old:

Maybe this writer should just forget trying to use punctuation. She should just stick to using letters, numbers, and the Space bar, because she has no clue where to stick those little commas and apostrophes. And maybe she just ought to stick with writing in the present tense, because the past tense of some verbs (like forbid) alludes her (it’s forbade):

How many children did Mr. Jobs’ birth parents have? At least three, if you can believe this writer. There was Steve, his sister, and another sister:

(The fact is, his birth parents had another child, a daughter.) It looks like Piper is starting to take my advice and omit punctuation. She’s dropped a comma and the quotation marks around the book title. Good start!

Oops. She’s fallen back on her old ways and included an apostrophe where it doesn’t belong:

and a comma where it has no business being:

There’s more problems with her use of the Shift key when it comes to Zen Buddhist and Stanford business school. (Only the full name of the school, Stanford Graduate School of Business should be capitalized.) Readers can’t overlook the mismatch of program and foster (which should be fosters):

It’s meant to be some sort of tribute to the women in Steve Jobs’ life, but it’s really a tribute to carelessness and grammatical ignorance.

No comment necessary

Some writing is just so mind-numbingly awful that I can’t bring myself to comment on it other than to point out the errors. Such is the case with an article about product placement in movies that appears on Yahoo! Shine.

So, without accompanying explanations, I give you the most egregious of the errors.

There’s a missing word, a misplaced comma, a misspelled “Super Size Me,” a mysterious meta-expirament, a misspelled Steven Spielberg, a missing comma in Reese’s Pieces, and missing quotation marks around the movie title “E.T.”:

There’s a missing a word here, and the name of the journal is Pediatrics:

There’s a f**ked up White Castle, another missing word, and the misuse of it’s instead of its twice:

A misspelling of Rene Russo:

A funky capitalization of the title “Alvin and the Chipmunks” and a missing apostrophe in Campbell’s:

Will Ferrell is misspelled and there’s the use of add for a shortened form of advertisement:

Once again, add instead of ad:

The movie title isn’t “Wall Street 2”; it’s “Wall Street: Money Never Sleeps”:

Who is the genius behind this writing? Is this article just an anomaly? If you’re wondering, the writer is a senior features editor whose juvenile style and illiterate musings are most evident in this comment she added to her article:

Tiger Beat it!

How many times does the  Yahoo! Shine writer of an article about Tiger Beat, the tween magazine, misspell Tiger Beat? Every time.

It starts with the headline:

And continues with the first paragraph:

Not only can’t she spell Tiger Beat, but she also can’t misspell it consistently. (And she doesn’t know that 1950s shouldn’t have an apostrophe.)

Here she goes again:

When not effing up Tiger Beat, she’s screwing around with Wil Wheaton, dropping the quotation marks around movie titles, and misplacing an apostrophe in what should be ’80s:

I can certainly understand how difficult it is to remember how to spell Mr. Wheaton’s unusual first name. After all, who can be expected to look at the photo above the caption and remember W-I-L. It’s just too much information  for the editor to hold in her brain.

We take a break from reporting on Tiger Beat misspellings to note the manglement of Spider-Man:

One more time:

I’m probably beating a dead horse when I repeat, reiterate, and say again: When will Yahoo! take its content seriously and provide the services of competent editors to its staffers who clearly need it.

Someone loves website

There’s lots to be learned by reading the  Yahoo! News blog “The Ticket.” Most of it involves what not to do when writing for a major Internet site. Or any website, for that matter.

Take the need for correct punctuation and spelling. Bob Schieffer is the host of “Face the Nation,” a TV program title that usually appears in quotation marks. Except when the writer forgets:

It’s a matter of house style whether to capitalize first lady when referring to the wife of the president. What’s not house style: failing to create a possessive noun when referring to the first lady’s anti-obesity efforts:

This conscientious writer went to the trouble to use the hyper-correct healthfully (when healthy is now considered correct, too), but the genius couldn’t quite get the verb right:

Someone loves the word website. How else to explain the duplication of the word?

What did we learn today? Everyone needs an editor. Or at least a competent proofreader.

Stephenie Meyer, Dianna Agron, and ‘Glee’: No special treatment

Author Stephenie Meyer gets no respect on Yahoo! Movies, where her name is misspelled:

Generally, titles of TV shows get special treatment, such as quotation marks or italic. Except here:

Also not getting special treatment? Dianna Agron, whose name is misspelled.

I’m only going to say this once

OK, I’m going to say this once: This writer for Yahoo! Shine is clueless when it comes to punctuation. I don’t want to keep repeating myself so I’ll just tell you now: I circled all the misplaced punctuation and missing punctuation. (Misplaced punctuation? That’s usually a comma or a period that belongs before a closing quotation mark. Missing punctuation? Most often it’s quotation marks that have gone missing around the title of a movie.)

I’m totally clueless when it comes to the first sentence here. What the hell is that supposed to mean?

Wow! Here’s a sentence without incorrect punctuation! Unfortunately the writer doesn’t know how to spell heroine:

Did I mention she likes to add unnecessary punctuation, like a hyphen in haircut?

Everyone knows the actress is Kirsten Dunst. Everyone except this so-called professional writer:

She’s still Kirsten Dunst:

This time, the missing punctuation is a comma before but:

(When joining two independent clauses with but, put a common before the conjunction.)

More of the stuff I said I didn’t want to talk about:

Here’s a new punctuation error (new for this article): The writer likes a hyphen in broke out. I don’t, however.

OK, now she isn’t even trying. It’s Hilary Swank, with one L in the Hilary part:

Whew! That went pretty well, doncha think?

How to avoid low self-esteem

If you’re a writer, errors can destroy not only your credibility but also your self-esteem — if you’re aware you’ve made mistakes. The professional writers for Yahoo! Shine obviously don’t have a self-esteem problem, they’re just blissfully ignorant of their mistakes that would embarrass any self-respecting author.

I wonder if someone (like an editor) pointed out the missing quotation marks that indicate a title of a TV show:

Do you think the writer is actually satisfied with her spelling of Gilda Radner and Lorne Michaels?

And Roseanne Roseannadanna?

If you’re indifferent to your mistakes, then ‘20s might seem OK, even though it means 1920s, which is probably a lot older than intended. If your writing ego is as big as a Macy’s Thanksgiving Day balloon, you don’t care that your statement about Betty White makes no sense. And misspelling Tammy Faye Bakker wouldn’t deflate that ego:

For chrissake, if this horrendous typo doesn’t affect her confidence as a writer, nothing will:

Do you think this writer has low self-esteem? I know I would if I wrote this badly.

The new rules of grammar

Imagine reading something that challenges everything you thought you knew about English. You might just question whether the principles you learned in the first 12 years of schooling were outdated. That’s the position I found myself in reading this article on Yahoo! Shine.

I thought I remembered some silly little rule about a verb matching its subject. So, when I read this, I wondered if the writer was correct:

But it wouldn’t be until I read this that I really felt my public school education was subpar:

Clearly, omitting words is now OK, as is misspelling names like Billie Jean King and Bobby Riggs:

Golly, I thought I knew where a hyphen goes and where it doesn’t go until I saw that there’s no hyphen in career-oriented (silly me!), because it’s been moved to prototype. Another  missing word confirmed what I suspected: The indefinite articles a and an are now optional.

As for the top hat, here it is:


I think it looks a lot like a boater and nothing like a top hat, but I may be as ignorant about fashion as I am about English.

I’m happy to report that the acronym UNICEF no longer requires all those capital letters. Good thing, too, because it’s much easier to text lowercase letters:

I have no idea what the hell this is all about, and I suspect the writer didn’t, either. But maybe it’s just me:

What does it mean to win a campaign? Did she mean the election or the nomination? God, this is all too deep for my meager brain.

This writer loves to add random commas, and I guess they’re OK nowadays:

I thought “Extra” and “World News” were TV shows, but I must be mistaken, because they’re not in quotation marks or italic. I just don’t get the need for the comma and I think that that should be than:

But I could be mistaken. It’s been known to happen.

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