I know some of you will think this idea to be a bad one or even an inconvenient one, but there are many hubbers here who have no clue what the hell they are sending out to the public. Many of these hubbers are from English speaking countries so I am not writing this in reference to non-native speakers.
Take for instance the use of: there, their and they're. I still see people using their instead of they're. It simply means that have no clue that they're means "they are" and their is a possessive pronoun.
When to use: whom as apposed to who; lie, lay, lied, laid, lain; that, which;
I am no expert but when writing I double check if I am not sure. If I read something elsewhere and see a difference in grammar use I check to make sure mine is correct as mine may be the incorrect one.
This could be a course developed by HP volunteers. A group of hubbers who like helping people could come together and put together a simple course which could be a part of the AP program or just made available to the community.
On behalf of HubPages staff, I can definitely say we agree that it is important for us to help Hubbers improve their grammar.
We're currently bouncing around several ideas that we think may be effective and hope to roll something out this year that really makes a different- what it will be is TBD, but rest assured that:
1. We care, too
2. We are actively working on a solution
Thank you for your concern!
Or, maybe they're just typing faster than they're thinking.
The only time grammar errors that bother me are those I see in books... When I catch errors in books I jump up and down, whoot-whooting, knowing I'm better than the proofreader of the book... but then reality comes knocking and I realize, I still don't have a book of my own.
I feel your pain, Cardisa. From what I know about HP, I don't believe the site sees itself as a place where people learn to write. Instead, it is a site where people who already know how to write can publish usable, well-written articles and other materials.
Unfortunately, the Internet has helped foster the 'all about me' mentality we see on television today. Sites such as Facebook, blogging platforms, Twitter and other venues feed into that, and the result has been a serious deterioration in writing skills among huge population segments.
In my university classes, I have to spend far too many hours teaching students some basic skills on writing term papers. They should already have these skills before they get to college. They should definitely have those skills before they take an upper-division course, which is what I teach. This takes time away from the true academic material of the course, but since the core assessment is a major term paper, I have to help prepare the students for that requirement. The types of problems some students have are myriad - everything from poor grammar to poor sentence structure, inability to frame and expand a thesis statement, bad spelling, you name it. Each of these issues requires its own approach to correct - and it's very time consuming.
Just as those of us who teach the course I offer feel it should not be our job to teach university juniors and seniors how to write, I do not feel it is the site's job to teach people how to write. If potential writers feel they have something valuable to share (which would not include self-centered personal stories or all-about-me junk), they should learn to write somewhere else, and then publish meaningful work here or on another site. There are plenty of great hubs on this site that cover grammar and writing skills. Several excellent hubs are by cclitgirl, I have written a few, and there are many more.
With everything the staff has going on, and with the busy lives all of the rest of us have, I don't see the time or value in teaching people something they should already have learned by the time they're 18 (the age at which you can join this site). It's not our job.
We have to demonstrate our skills in driving before we get a license to get on the road. If someone hires themselves out to be a plumber, they have to pass a test and get licensed. If someone sprays chemicals in your home to kill insects, they have to pass a test. But for some reason, many people don't feel they should have to learn to use our language properly before they publish their 'writing.'
Hubpages is the 'highway' for publishing and going someplace as a writer, not 'driving school,' where you learn the basic rules of grammar and writing. IMO.
BTW - I know this is a rant. This subject is a hot button for me. Sorry! I feel better now!
I agree with everything you say Marcy, I just get so frustrated. I hardly read hubs from Asia so most of the mistakes I see are from US or UK, so it's quite annoying to me that people who call themselves 'writers' don't spend the time to learn the proper use of the English language. I am so embarrassed whenever I write something which is 'off'. As so called writers we should spend our time learning and not assuming we are always right!
There are plenty of quick searches to grammar sites. I see no need on HP to make this available. We know there are different kinds of writers here, some not being 'writers' at all. Anyone publishing online should care enough to check their grammar, but we know it's not going to happen, even if there was a course made available on the site.
I guess my concern is the way the site looks from the outside with all the bad grammar and stuff. This is the time I am really grateful that we have subdomains!
I completely agree with both points, Cardisa. Had I known the ratio of really bad writing and spam that existed on this site when I first started writing here, I would not have put my writing in the mix. When I saw the level of the problem, I did feel a bit better to know subdomains were in place. But it's still embarrassing to have your writing published in the same venue where junk appears all too frequently.
Thankfully, there's been a great improvement in the past year. The QAP was long-needed, and although it requires a lot of work, it's the best gatekeeper we've had here for stopping the flow of bad writing. There are still numerous bad apples rotting away, but those are being dealt with and will be (I hope) unpublished.
I agree I have to wonder about the people who rate the hubs from the QAP, if they too have grammar issues. I see HOTD and many newly featured hubs with the same issue. I have a friend who I like very much whose hubs are featured but I just can read them, I don't follow this particular friend for this same reason. I just can read his/her hubs in their entirety!
As with you, I've seen hubs that, I assume, passed QAP and have what I feel are noticeable problems. But I've also noticed that I can flag something I personally feel should be addressed (due to bad writing), and it will still be published. Now that we get the stats on the percentage of our flags that are moderated, it's interesting to see the contrast in the number reported vs the number that actually get removed.
There are plenty of sites out there which already offer writing tips, instruction, grammar rules, etc. There are even a large number of Hubs which address grammar concerns. I don't think it would be worth HubPages time and investment to reinvent that particular wheel when in yet another form.
Ever hear the phrase "you can lead a horse to water but you can't make it drink?" That's the essential issue we have here when it comes to people writing Hubs and the site TOS, writing instructions, grammar help, you name it...
I think a great compromise would be to set up a specific category for grammar (I didn't look first) and then refer hubbers to that specific category for help in the learning center.
Giving 160k pupils grammar lessons is impractical.
That's a good idea, Melissa - but I would add to it that any hub flagged for legitimate grammar issues should be unpublished and the mods should refer the writer to that resource. I am tired of seeing hubs get flagged for writing errors that are noticeable, but apparently don't rise to the level of Engrish issues, so they're allowed to remain published.
There's no reason to flag those hubs Marcy, they likely legitimately passed QAP.
A rating of 6 includes:
Some significant or frequent minor deviations from standard usage, that begin to detract from readability or credibility of the page.
There may be noticeable issues with word choice or sentence structure.
Just playing with the math...
Hubs are given a composite score. It's biased towards substance. If the composite score needed to pass QAP is, let's say 7 (Which it likely isn't) then a hub would pass QAP with even a 8-7-6.
I would guess that the QAP score needed is lower than that... so let's guess it's a composite of 6. Conceivably (with the extra weight on substance) a 7-6-4 could pass. That scenario is excessively unlikely, because once you get to a four grammar, the substance starts taking a hit. However a 5-9-4 (Which I've never seen in my memory) could also pass... depending on the weight given to substance.
Graders know there are mistakes in grammar. We rate accordingly. If a hub is strong in other areas, it's likely going to clear QAP... unless the grammar is so bad it affects substance in a significant way.
I see what you're saying, Melissa, but my point is that I think my personal idea of what should pass differs from the site's criteria. I know the site has a right to set standards that combine several factors (substance could be one); I'm just saying that my own comfort zone would be to have higher standards for grammar. Noticeable issues (which, to me, detract from trying to read a hub) would be deal breakers. But online publishing, especially on a site such as this, is different from pure print publishing. There are more latitudes for individual writers.
That I agree with If it helps, most of the ones coming through now- the vast majority I would be willing to say- are between 7-8. I've given a 10 in grammar once. It was a good day.
Edit: And no, I don't have a hub myself that I would give a 10 to if I was rating it. I should probably fix that at some point.
I don't know if I am being unreasonable for saying this but I would rather struggle through reading a badly written hub by a non-native English speaker than a poorly structured hub by a native speaker.
All native speakers learn grammar in school and some of us even boast about attending college and stuff. We should at least know what homophones are and how to use them. This is where I have the most problems.
There is distinct difference between typos, misspellings and bad grammar. I can understand a few typos. I may understand the misspellings but I cannot seem to get past the incorrect word usage.
You aren't being unreasonable at all. Each of us has our tolerances and our pet-peeves.
Misusing homophones doesn't really distract me personally, for example, but I go buggy over the difference between well and good. I also can't deal with incorrect pluralization.
With that, I know I have several "quirks" in my writing that I blame on 1. Learning to speak English in a foreign country and then 2. Continuing to learn to speak English in a very distinct American sub-dialect. Of the two, surprisingly, the second has had a more drastic effect.
No amount of schooling has managed to keep me from referring to a creek as a crick or a hill as a heel. Those spoken errors end up in my writing, because my fingers type what my mind "says". As an added complication, I am horrible at proofing my own work. My mind knows what it intended to write, so it often ignores what I actually did write.
This is all a digression, of course.
To get back on subject, I'm not sure that grammar lessons from HP would help all that much in the case of homophones. Four years of college (that was an intentional ironic brag btw) didn't pound into my head the difference between crick and creek, I'm not sure what a five minute lesson from HP is going to do
lol lol.....I am also terrible at proofing my own work and it sometimes takes months to get out all the errors.
My main problem is spelling since originally I learned the UK version of the language but have to be using primarily the US version. I still spell stuff like favourite, honour, odour and so forth. I also have problems with "ize" and "ise" endings.
Melissa, what you describe about the dialect is exactly what I've found happens once in awhile (not very often) because of my Boston accent - only with something that we all know shows up over and over again in people's writing, and that is those "you're/your" and "there/they're/their" and "hear/here" situations. With a Boston accent (and I'm guessing many other accents), those words can sound the same in a person's head. As you described, "fingers typing what mind hears", that kind of thing shows up once in awhile in (I'm guessing) a lot of people's typewritten work. The real "killer" is that something like "there"/"they're" doesn't even stand out in the same way something like "tmere" or "tgey're" would, because they look OK enough at first glance in proofing, and spell-check won't even pick them up.
I learned grammar in US schools (and always did really well in it) decades ago in the 1960's. In fact, I learned to type in the 1960's. I've pretty much had a good grip on them both for quite awhile now - and yet, once in awhile there'll be one of those "hear/here" things show up in my work! Of course, it shouldn't; but also if someone were to keep reading he'd likely see that I really do know the difference between those words. BUT, as we've all seen time and time again on this and other sites, the natural inclination of at least a lot of people seems to be to assume that some of these common types of errors are a matter of poor command of grammar and/or spelling.
So much of the more minor stuff is essentially a matter of typos - and no, there shouldn't be any typos anywhere. Then again, though, there's a part of me that thinks about the whole "scheme of a site like this" and thinks, "Maybe the occasional typo in thousands of words are kind of the least of anyone's problems."
The point is that a lot of the minor stuff is really a matter of errors, and the major problems aren't going to be easily helped anyway.
For to what hubbers refer you? Is my pleasure to blog on Hubs, and English my grammar gooder than most!! So they're!!
I think some of the problems have to do with editing. Everyone is in a hurry these days and more time should be spent on it. That includes me at times. Then there are people that should never write in the first place. I've seen a few of those.
I think it would be a good idea - perhaps HP should add a video on grammar. It might improve some of the substandard hubs that keep popping up. It wouldn't have to be a lengthy or complicated it could just show common mistakes that are found on hubpages and how to avoid them.
This is a good suggestion. It could only benefit the site in the long run.
I don't see why HP is so lenient when it comes to who publishes on the site. There are many successful content sites out there with an editorial process. Take for instance Bright Hub, They edit your work before it hits the publish. Of course less people publish there but that's the whole idea.
The equation here doesn't add up. Wouldn't it be better to have less hubbers with high quality hubs than thousands of hubbers with more than half the content on the site being substandard?
The sub-standard stuff will make the better stuff stand out. When reading any article or post, if one has higher expectations, one will quickly identify a poorly written article and move on. I think some of the "smaller" mistakes are a matter of proofreading. If I have no one to proofread, I am likely going to have some typos and errors in grammar which I inevitably find later if I re-read my own stuff days or weeks after publishing.
If you read something and the writing is poor and grammar is poor, just vote it down or whatever a reader can do to punish the post. If that helps vet out some of the drivel, great.
I see your point about moving on, but in an online venue, that generally means leaving the site. If I stumble on a link (during a search) that looks like it might have the information I want, and then see noticeable grammar issues, I just plain click out of the site, because the message I'm getting is that the site is unprofessional, and therefore, the content is questionable.
I do agree that random typos can be overlooked. But consistently using the wrong syntax or using terms that.clearly reflect a lack of good English skills reflects on the entire site.
Maybe there should be a grammar test when new users try to sign up;-) They could be given a new topic and 5 minutes to write a couple of paragraphs about it. But it would be too easy to cheat I suppose, so that would be fairly pointless. Moreover it wouldn't be fair to those who get flustered by time constrictions, or those with dyslexia etc.
My opinion is that as others have stated, this is not a site to be learning the basics of writing. It is a site to be learning how to put your writing to good use. Kind of like learning interior design rather than how to open a tin of paint.
But I also think people sometimes get too focused on the idea that Hubpages should be for 'writers' specifically, and so they demand equivalently high writing standards of their peers. I am not a 'writer' by trade or education. But I like to write about topics that interest me. I always thought Hubpages was for everyday experts as much as pure writers. I try to be self-aware with what I create, but I don't create writing that would win any competitions.
I think that is the difference - actually caring about producing at least an acceptable level of writing. Hubpages could produce learning center articles which teach people when to use 'there' or 'their' but they couldn't teach people how to care enough to want to learn. You could threaten to apply sanctions on their account if they didn't learn, but I imagine people would just find a way around that in the same way as they manage to pass the quality assessment with what many of us would still consider to be sub-standard writing.
So in the end my opinion boils down to that we should focus on our own Hubs, stop worrying so much about what everyone else is doing, and let Hubpages slowly work on these kind of issues...
If people who can't write properly in English aren't taking advantage of the thousands of free resources already available, why would they avail themselves of yet another free resource offered by HubPages? Most of these people simply don't care that their writing is riddled with mistakes and difficult to read. They are only here to make a quick penny.
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