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HubPages Etiquette: Pointing Out Errors Without Offense

Updated on August 2, 2012

Here at HubPages, we come across fellow Hubbers who write at various skill levels. Some Hubbers are new to writing and could most certainly use some pointers (and encouragement!) to improve so they can share their great information. A handful of Hubbers write very well, but their research is based on common misconceptions and popular beliefs that are contradicted by proven science or scholarly research. Other Hubbers have great writing skills, but are prone to the occasional typo. When we come across these errors, we find ourselves stuck in the decision to say something in an effort to help the Hubber and improve the quality of articles at HubPages or to not say anything for fear of being rude or offensive. This hub aims to provide a basic etiquette to the HubPages community for how to approach Hubbers on tips and advice to improve their hubs.

The heart may be there, but some writing is better to be taken down completely until the writer has improved their writing skills so that the hubs make sense to their audience.
The heart may be there, but some writing is better to be taken down completely until the writer has improved their writing skills so that the hubs make sense to their audience. | Source

Hubs Begging for Improvement

On occasion you will come across a hub that is devoid of writing skills beyond the elementary level. In some cases, the writing may be even worse than that. Sometimes the layout will be nice and images certainly help to get a feel for what the hub is about. However, trying to read through the writing is annoying, nauseating, or even impossible. In this case, saying something (anything) may be the only way to alert the Hubber that he or she needs improvement. Some writers of this caliber falsely believe that their writing is decent. When they do not receive much traffic or followers, they may wrongly assume that search algorithms or the topic is to blame. Some may even believe the lack of interest in their hubs is just the normal traffic rate. Yes, what these writers have to say is certainly good, but we cannot possibly know that when we cannot understand any of it. Alert the Hubber to the problem through an email. You do not want to point out every single error (as there are bound to be many), but making a brief mention of the problem and citing an example or two will help.

Do you ever contact Hubbers to correct information in hubs you know is wrong?

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Incorrect Information

HubPages and other online content websites of similar style have it right when they say that all of us have something we are experts in. We may not necessarily choose to write on those subjects, but when someone else does and gets a piece of information wrong, we instantly know it. Additionally, we often know exactly what resources to refer others to for them to receive the correct information.

We pride ourselves as writers and the community we choose to host our writing, so it is only natural to want all the writing in our community to be high quality. When you run into a hub that has obviously incorrect information, you have every right to point it out. Keep in mind, however, that the hubber may not realize the information is wrong. He or she may have been misled into believing the false information from an early age or through the writing of a trusted author. Many individuals, when faced with the facts contradicting what they believe to be fact, will not be very receptive to the correct information. In such cases, point out the facts and leave it at that. Depending on the nature of the error, contacting the Hubber directly is best. If in doubt, always send an email.

Correcting typos improves the quality of hubs. Serious writers do their best to avoid these, so having them pointed out when they do occur helps considerably!
Correcting typos improves the quality of hubs. Serious writers do their best to avoid these, so having them pointed out when they do occur helps considerably! | Source

Those Dreaded Typos

This is the easiest error to correct. Most writers whose only errors are typos wish nothing more than to correct all errors immediately. Unfortunately, we sometimes miss the occasional typo or misused word despite a thorough self-edit and not all editing software catches the simplest of mistakes. No one wants grammar police, but any serious writer is incredibly grateful when readers and fellow writers really read his or her hubs to the degree they will notice any errors. Taking the time to contact the Hubber is that much more of a compliment. Not everyone likes to admit they made an error, of course, so you may not receive recognition for your assistance let alone a word of thanks. A quick email to the Hubber about the typo or typos will do the trick.

General Guidelines

Regardless of the specific issue at hand, some steps can be taken to avoid causing possible problems when you desire to see an error corrected. The following tips are guidelines when contacting fellow Hubbers.

  • Email the Hubber. The comment section is awesome for pointing out additional information useful to a hub, but comments of a corrective nature are best done through personal contact. This avoids embarrassment and clearly demonstrates you are not trying to attack anyone or their writing.
  • Clearly state your intentions. Be forthcoming in why you are contacting the Hubber. There is no need to try to cover your intentions as that will either cause your advice to be lost in translation or perceived negatively.
  • Be polite. Sometimes the most well-meaning of messages comes across as self-righteous or mean. In written communications, we cannot easily demonstrate our attitudes. As such, some humor will be completely lost on many individuals and overly professional messages may sound cold and demanding. Avoid anything that could be misunderstood.
  • Do not demand action. The Hubber will act or not act as he or she chooses. Some will be quick to make necessary corrections whereas others will either not care or disagree that there is a problem with his or her hub. Reaching out to make them aware of an error is okay, but demanding they do something about it is not.
  • Avoid feeding the fire. Some people simply love drama or at least get a sort of high from the chemical release resulting from unexpected stressors. No matter how in the right you were, they will try to turn you into a bad person. Unfortunately, HubPages, like everywhere else, has these people in its community. If you reach out and a hand bites you in turn, do not be tempted to smack the mouth that bit you. You have no need to try to explain yourself or attempt to calm the individual. Once they have decided to lash out, any response at all will only allow them the opportunity to continue the tantrum.
  • Refrain from publicly correcting others. When we are met with negativity, it is tempting to make the issue public. In such drama-packed situations, do not comment on the hub in question or make a post in the forums to point out the errors at all costs. This will be viewed as negative behavior by others despite your efforts to do the right thing.
  • Keep writing! Whatever your experience with trying to help other Hubbers improve their writing, do not neglect your own. Likewise, take any advice sent your way with the same level of respect you would want those you contact to take yours. Improve the community one hub at a time.

Hub #1/30 of March Challenge

© 2012 Evylyn Rose


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    • sunilkunnoth2012 profile image

      Sunil Kumar Kunnoth 4 years ago from Calicut (Kozhikode, South India)

      You have given us some useful as well informative text while moving with hubpages. Thanks for sharing knowledge and educating us. I loved the way you express things in simple style. Keep on writing and educate us more with even more stuff.

    • Evylyn Rose profile image

      Evylyn Rose 6 years ago from Colorado, USA

      WE, thanks for the comment. :) Interesting perspective on why we should publicly point out errors! Generally, I disagree that we should, not to avoid public attention to the issue, but because such comments are permanently attached to a hub that may become edited. If the comment is purely criticism with no other commentary, it could simply be deleted after the edits take place. Then again, there are some individuals who do not take kindly to public feedback in terms of writing style and the intention of the message may not translate over. Great food for thought!

    • profile image

      Website Examiner 6 years ago

      Thanks for giving your view on a well-traveled topic. That it has been discussed so often does not make your opinion less relevant; quite the contrary.

      I agree that an email is the safer approach on a public site. From time to time, I have done this, usually writing something like "Minor error" in the headline, and making it really casual. If someone's story is filled with errors, I will either not comment or - in the course of making a constructive comment - suggest that their work could benefit from proofreading. I will do so publicly, since no one can responsibly publish substandard material.

      On Novelty Fiction's private network, I usually contact people privately, but anyone is free to critique one another's work in a more family-like setting. Best wishes, W.E.

    • Evylyn Rose profile image

      Evylyn Rose 6 years ago from Colorado, USA

      Melvoy, exactly! One of the greatest things about heated moments on the internet is you can get angry, storm away, and do whatever you need to to cool yourself down before making a response (or choosing not to) without anyone ever knowing how much it ticked you off. It looks like we're letting it go in style. ;)

      debbie, You're quite welcome. Glad I could help alleviate some of your fear. :) Thanks for the comment and share!

      Cosmic Bus, I agree it's better to correct in an email. The problem with pointing out errors in a comment is that it documents on the hub that there was an error there. If the Hubber fixed the mistake, why does the world need to know that they once had the word "through" spelled as "thru"? My biggest pet peeve is "u" instead of "you" and other text-speak. Thankfully, that's not as common on HubPages as other parts of the web! Thanks for the vote. ^_^

    • Cosmic Bus profile image

      Cosmic Bus 6 years ago from Maryland

      Great Hub! Spelling issues, and the word I spelled "i"really bug me, but I know my form and punctuation need much improvement. I noticed someone had publicly, but nicely corrected a new Hubbers Hub, much like a teacher would, I know I would rather be told in an e-mail. Voted up!

    • debbie roberts profile image

      Debbie Roberts 6 years ago from Greece

      I have noticed silly spelling mistakes in peoples hubs, but I've not been sure how to go about letting them know, for fear of offending them. Silly really as I've had mistakes pointed out and I was grateful and not offended.

      You've given some good advice for people like myself, who are unsure of the etiquette.

      Thank you and socially shared.

    • Melovy profile image

      Yvonne Spence 6 years ago from UK

      I agree with everything you’ve written here, and in particular to not publicly correcting others for fanning a fire. While all of us occasionally sound off in our everyday lives, on the net we have the chance to take a few deep breathes and think things through before we type a response.

    • Evylyn Rose profile image

      Evylyn Rose 6 years ago from Colorado, USA

      marcoujor, thanks for the comment and votes! ;)

      Sherry, Thank you for asking such a great question! I'm glad you liked my response. :)

      quicksand, Thanks for the comment! When I read, "although I would not 'dare' to do likewise!" I couldn't help but to think of the quote, "Do I dare disturb the Universe?" My answer has always been yes. XD

    • quicksand profile image

      quicksand 6 years ago

      I would appreciate if someone points out any errors in the information that I have presented via my articles, although I would not "dare" to do likewise!

      Lol, it's my myobbing attitude. That's the reason I voted for number three! A great article indeed.


    • Sherry Hewins profile image

      Sherry Hewins 6 years ago from Sierra Foothills, CA

      Thanks so much for making such a nice hub in response to my question. You have given very good advice.

    • marcoujor profile image

      Maria Jordan 6 years ago from Jeffersonville PA

      Very comprehensively addressed... It is much better to address these types of issues in a private/ e-mail fashion. Most individuals appreciate constructive and well - intentioned feedback.

      Voted UP & UAI, mar.

    • Evylyn Rose profile image

      Evylyn Rose 6 years ago from Colorado, USA

      Sarah, Thanks for the comment, vote, and share! I'll be sure to let you know when I catch something. ;)

      AEvans, That's exactly how I feel! I see feedback as a form of assistance. There may well be hate-mail out there, but messages of a corrective nature in writing is more like help-mail. ;) Thanks for the vote and share!

      Anamika, Thanks for the comment, vote, and share!

    • Anamika S profile image

      Anamika S 6 years ago from Mumbai - Maharashtra, India

      Awesome Hub on manners and etiquette in HubPages. You have covered it all. Voted up and useful and shared on twitter.

    • AEvans profile image

      Julianna 6 years ago from SomeWhere Out There

      I believe it is okay to privately send an e-mail it doesn't matter if you have been here for years or a few weeks. Everyone should appreciate that somebody is reading there work like an editor and will assist them with improving there work. Thumbs up ! Voted and shared. :)

    • SMD2012 profile image

      Sally Hayes 6 years ago

      Excellent, thoughtful and generous ideas for helping our fellow writers improve their Hubs in the most respectful way. Feel free to email me anytime you see something awry in one of my Hubs; I know you will be coming from a gracious and kind place. Voted up, shared, useful and interesting! Thanks! - Sarah

    • Evylyn Rose profile image

      Evylyn Rose 6 years ago from Colorado, USA

      Thanks for commenting, Rochelle! I hate it when I post something with an obvious typo and no one tells me. I wrote pages on my website years ago and it wasn't until browsers included built-in spellcheckers that I caught dozens of them. It may not be a high traffic site, but for the amount of individuals who saw these typos I couldn't believe not a single person mentioned them to me! I'd much rather be called out on an error than feel like an idiot years later for not catching it earlier.

    • Rochelle Frank profile image

      Rochelle Frank 6 years ago from California Gold Country

      To those I feel 'connected with' I will sometimes send a private email to point out a typo-- I really hate to see an excellent piece of work marred by a "dum" mistake. Otherwise, I probably let it slide. I am prone to finger-bumbles, myself...AND I graduated from college before learning (from a kind editor) that "it's" cannot be a used as a possessive for something that belongs to "it".

      If you see my mistakes-- feel free to call me out in a hub. (Quick replies, like this, are obviously exempt since they can't be edited after a time.) Ha! :D