Wednesday, January 8, 2014

Two Dangerous Temptations on Social Media: Resist!

Avoid and Resist!

1. Misspelled tweets or other quick postings: You're thinking -- whoopee--everyone misspells on Twitter. To some extent this is true -- it is the nature of the beast. Tweeters must economize and thus create new constructions to reduce character count. This has worked well. (For example: POTUS = President of the United States; ICYMI = In Case You Missed It.)

That is not the same as misspelling words that are important enough to include in a tweet. I wrote a tweet the other day in which I mistakenly used "on" when I meant to use "one." I also used the noun "die" (as in "the die is cast') but mistakenly pluralized it so that my tweet read "the dies is cast." I worry less about the possibility that bad spelling may make me look inept (many of the best writers are bad spellers) than I do about the possibility that it makes me look lazy. Anyone who uses social media as a public platform needs to take the time to proofread and correct these kinds of errors. If you're not sure how a word is spelled, take the time to look it up. Good spellers reading your published material immediately identify a misspelling and this tarnishes credibility in their eyes. If you hurriedly publish something and later find the spelling gaff, it is never too late to fix it. Social media is forgiving about this kind of thing.

Remember, being diligent and having high standards set you apart. 

2. Un-cited copying. Even if you are using a short portion from Wikipedia -- which careful researchers are in greater measure rallying around -- note your extraction! It is okay to use others' research -- who has time to research every topic under the sun? But when your information is not your own or is co-opted, to neglect to cite the source is tantamount to stealing. Be a good citizen and neighbor.

Please maintain standards. Be true, be fair, tip your hat to your source. Your readers will thank you for it. 

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