19
$\begingroup$

I realise that for a great number of users English is not their native language, and therefore the English writing will frequently contain mistakes. I have no issue spending some of my time making edits to such sort of genuine mistakes. I firmly believe we should be encouraging non-native English speakers to participate and use English to the best of their abilities.

However, deliberate use of slang, abbreviations, colloquialisms etc. should be avoided. Users should be at least trying to write in correct English to avoid confusion, improve clarity, and help make all posts accessible to all users. There are a number of users who do not do this.

For example, the following question features such problems:

"When I was younger like 10 I used to drop big logs but now I'm older my logs are not so big"

and a subsequent comment shows the confusion:

"I honestly thought at first he was talking about chopping wood or wearing wooden shoes"

And comments on an answer were also poorly written:

"Downvoters didnt study enough poop in school cuz they were grossed out and thought ''eeww icky', but I went the distance for you @Jan, you know me n you is down."

$\endgroup$
6
  • 7
    $\begingroup$ Just posing as Devil's Advocate, but doesn't the OP's language and attempts at correcting the question make it clear their age is probably still fairly young, and as such, they may think the words "poop" or "shit" (the only words they may know for it) are inappropriate? In which case the majority of the language is deliberately attempting to write correct and appropriate English? I agree with what is said here but I think this might be a poor example. $\endgroup$ – DoubleDouble Jan 12 '16 at 21:56
  • 1
    $\begingroup$ I've nothing against them saying poop, most would understand that I think - I featured that comment more for things like "cuz" and "icky" and the general wording such as "you know me n you is down" - people not familiar with slang types of English could get completely lost $\endgroup$ – rg255 Jan 13 '16 at 6:30
  • 2
    $\begingroup$ I'm not of this domain, but in math.SE, we would choose to edit the question, and leave a small note in comments (probably a warning in next question if they repeat it) pointing the changes made in "favour" of them. But again, I guess people who "wryt lyk dis" will always haunt you, thanks to mobile phones and IMs! And if a comment like the one quoted at the end is made, I guess it will easily be reported as obsolete/not constructive soon in math.SE! (I was just passing by, this question caught my attention, fact that the same haunts me all over internet! :) ) $\endgroup$ – Jesse P Francis Jan 15 '16 at 4:00
  • $\begingroup$ Thanks for the input, as a community we do a fair bit of editing on this sort of thing. I put this meta post here so we can have something to fall back on if we get a user that comes and keeps writing with slang etc. - then we can ask them to improve it and point to it being a community decision $\endgroup$ – rg255 Jan 15 '16 at 6:45
  • $\begingroup$ I'm confused as to what kind of force you're going to channel to make people comply. $\endgroup$ – anongoodnurse Jan 15 '16 at 7:34
  • $\begingroup$ Obviously we can't force someone to comply, having this post here just gives clarity and something to direct people to. Before if people were writing badly we had to try and convince them ourselves, now we at least have a fairly well up voted meta post as something that can represent the community and add more weight to requests. $\endgroup$ – rg255 Jan 15 '16 at 8:00
1
$\begingroup$

I think that there are 2 things going on here:

  1. the functional need for clarity in questions [tl;dr: GOOD],
  2. preference for a particular dialect of English (or level of formality!) in questions [tl;dr: BAD].

I strongly support (1) and believe that we should be opposed to (2). The question seems to have been taken down in the intervening years, but as far as I can tell you are not distinguishing these two things when you talk about "correct English". And I think that it is possible to write quite clearly in dialects of English that I don't speak that. Dialects of English can be mutually intelligible if people make the effort to communicate (i.e. clarity).

I agree to some extent that the quote from the question (about big vs. little logs) is a little hard to parse for me. But the quote from the comments ("Downvoters didnt study enough poop in school...") is perfectly comprehensible, even if it's not the way I would put it.

Maybe I'm forgetting something in the SE guidelines, but I see it as part of the mission for SE Biology (and other SE sites that use English as their language) to make an effort to answer comprehensible questions written in AAVE or Scots (though it's technically a different language) or the slang of that question/comment.

We all try hard enough to answer incomprehensible questions written in "correct" UK or US English, even though only a rather small minority of the English-speaking population uses these as a first language.

In this case I think that it's perfectly possible for us to ask in a comment "what do you mean when you say that you 'drop logs'?" in the same way that we might ask "what do you mean by 'protein interactions'?", if that were unclear (e.g. protein-protein vs. protein-DNA vs. whatever). We might feel un-hip or silly in the first case, but there's no real difference between the two.

$\endgroup$

You must log in to answer this question.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged .