Posts tagged grammar

As long as a population can be induced to believe in a supernatural hereafter, it can be oppressed and controlled. People will put up with all sorts of tyranny, poverty, and painful treatment if they’re convinced that they’ll eventually escape to some resort in the sky where lifeguards are superfluous and the pool never closes. Moreover, the faithful are usually willing to risk their skins in whatever military adventure their government may currently be promoting.

In which I further explain my grammar bot.

The Independent:

@YourorYoure, which dates back to April 2009, pings users with a simple “[Wrong!]” when they misuse every first-grader’s most-hated contraction. Eric Mortensen, the bot’s creator, says he made it after seeing a co-worker’s rage at an e-mail that confused the two.

I started the account in response to a coworker in what must have been 2007 or 2008. He shot up from his chair, enraged by an email he’d just read that confused “your" and "you're”. I was amused, and being someone who finds that sort of thing irritating, too (although nowhere near as irritating as my coworker finds it), I instantly came up with the concept of building a bot. I've long had a penchant for projects like this, large and small, that can quickly be built, and then built upon, as necessary. Dating back before the commercial Internet, I've always enjoyed stringing together public services and communication tools to do cool, if not necessarily useful stuff.

Within a half hour, I had it up and running. Instead of replying to the wrongdoer, it retweets and publicly shames them. The retweet contains the name of the recipient, allowing them to join the bot in poking fun at their friends. Many respond angrily to the corrections, typically for one of three reasons:  

  1. They’re upset by being shamed in public
  2. They think [Wrong!] refers to the sentiment being expressed rather than how it was expressed.
  3. They believe the bot is a human being who spends his entire day criticizing people.

Of course, there are plenty of good-natured responses as well. 

Here are some recent examples: http://bit.ly/TXjKBw

The bot detects a very specific use case and does get it wrong sometimes. I’d update it if I could, but I no longer recall where it’s running. The bot is just out there in the world somewhere. To be honest, I’m kind of surprised it’s still functioning. I’m delighted that it’s doing its job, but I never imagined it would be approaching 300,000 corrections all these years later. I can’t imagine what that number would be if I hadn’t artificially limited the number of people it could call out in a day. 

I’m hardly following the AP Stylebook when I tweet, but I find it pretty easy to avoid the your/you're mistake. That’s not to say that I don’t live in fear of eventually being corrected by my own creation. 

My @YourOrYoure bot has now corrected 267,183 bad spellers. It has been running for years. I’d love to fix some bugs but I don’t remember how or where it was built nor do I recall the email address or password for the account. 
For a good time, read angry, confused and amused responses from those who have been shamed. And be careful out there. 

My @YourOrYoure bot has now corrected 267,183 bad spellers. It has been running for years. I’d love to fix some bugs but I don’t remember how or where it was built nor do I recall the email address or password for the account. 

For a good time, read angry, confused and amused responses from those who have been shamed. And be careful out there. 

A few years ago I created a Twitter bot to correct people who are confused about when to use “your” and “you’re”. I whipped it up in response to evangotlib having a bit of a meltdown over someone failing to pick the right one for use in an email.  In an act of solidarity, I created @youroryoure.
It obviously can’t keep up with every single person who makes the mistake, but it has successfully shamed 152,234 people to date. It consistently confounds the Interwebs in the most entertaining ways.  By simply retweeting and adding the text [Wrong!], it leads plenty of people to think the bot is disagreeing with the substance of their tweet. Others get that their grammar is being corrected and become enraged, assailing the sort of flesh and blood person who spend all their free time correcting random strangers. Some people just find it terribly funny that they got caught making a silly mistake.
But the thing that confuses me is the 614 people who follow the account.  Why would you want to read that stuff?

A few years ago I created a Twitter bot to correct people who are confused about when to use “your” and “you’re”. I whipped it up in response to evangotlib having a bit of a meltdown over someone failing to pick the right one for use in an email.  In an act of solidarity, I created @youroryoure.

It obviously can’t keep up with every single person who makes the mistake, but it has successfully shamed 152,234 people to date. It consistently confounds the Interwebs in the most entertaining ways.  By simply retweeting and adding the text [Wrong!], it leads plenty of people to think the bot is disagreeing with the substance of their tweet. Others get that their grammar is being corrected and become enraged, assailing the sort of flesh and blood person who spend all their free time correcting random strangers. Some people just find it terribly funny that they got caught making a silly mistake.

But the thing that confuses me is the 614 people who follow the account.  Why would you want to read that stuff?