Thursday, February 18, 2010

Inside the belly of the beast - the Chicago Manual of Style's "scary" online forum

The Chicago Manual of Style recently launched an online forum where you can get answered any and all of your writing style questions.  The problem is, as Inside Higher Ed reports, many people are so intimidated by the forum's fastidious readers that they're afraid to post:

Just two weeks after its Feb. 2 launch, The Chicago Manual of Style Online’s new discussion forum already features numerous discussions with titles like “ ‘Predecessor to’ or ‘predecessor of’ “? and “Worst online punctuation abuse?” But the most popular thread thus far is titled “I’m afraid to post here.” Its first message: “Could there be a more intimidating place to post?”

Other commenters echoed that sentiment: “I do fear a grammatical error in posts here because even if everyone is polite enough to ignore it they will surely notice it,” fretted one.

On the positive side, the nascent forum is proving to be an invaluable resource to writers everywhere.

[U]sers can ask any and all style-related questions ("Is there a rule about using whether or if?") and receive quick responses from others, often citing the Manual itself ("From CMOS 5.202: determine whether; determine if. The first phrasing is irreproachable style; the second is acceptable, though less formal"). The press hopes that this function will finally bridge the long-standing gap between the number of questions that Chicago users submit to its Q&A each month (hundreds, Gibson said) and the number that editors can answer (about 10 every month). But the forum isn't limited to the nitty-gritty of copy editing; it also includes sections where users can post their questions on author relations ("How does one deal with the frustration of continually correcting the same differences in usage without losing one's temper or alienating the writer?"), professional development ("Have you ever taken a class in copyediting?") and the publishing industry ("How can publishers best utilize Facebook and Twitter for marketing purposes?"), as well as, of course, miscellaneous ("Best way to develop good grammar habits?"

You can read more here.

I am the scholarship dude.


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