Monthly Archives: August 2011

Websites and Comments

I’ve come to the conclusion that most websites need to hire a vast array of moderators for their online comments section. Mostly to delete the stupid comments.

Although I fully protect everyone’s freedom of speech and their freedom to come across as an absolute idiot in public or private, some of these news websites need to step up and delete most of the comments their stories generate.

It is disappointing to see the type of comments that appear on websites.

Even on CNNMoney, the majority of the comments are crude, rude, or grossily illiterate. I would expect to see stupid comments on many websites, even the news-based ones, but I was disappointed to see that even CNNMoney’s news articles also collected their share of stupidity.

What has happened to polite behavior? It is really necessary to post whatever your empty brains are thinking after you read an article when it has nothing to do with the topic and adds nothing to the reader’s understanding or appreciation of the topic? Are these commenters not embarrassed by the things they post?

I just read an interesting article on CNNMoney titled: “Want a Minion? There’s an App for That.” Apparently there are several small companies that have created a way for people who need small tasks done to hire out the work to people near them. The work ranges from picking up dry cleaning or groceries to moving couches or writing thank you notes. The “minions” can pick up extra money performing these tasks for the people who are too busy or just too lazy to do it themselves. Clever, no?

The first comment for this article was some idiot posting that he wanted someone to rub the bump in his shorts for a small fee. Was this really necessary? This is the kind of comment that needs to be deleted. Yes, moderating these comments would likely be a full time job for a small army of people, but think of the minimum wages jobs that could be created for college students looking for extra work.

And think of how much more enjoyable it would be to read the comments section of articles. We’d only be left with the “real” comments that would be posting alternative information or discussing the actual contents of the article.

For now, however, I think I’m going to stop looking at the bottom of the pages. It’s just too depressing to realize most people can’t control their impulse to look like an idiot, are obsessed with the latest trending conspiracy, or can barely read/write in English (and sometimes all three at the same time).

My complaints about the poor quality of writing and lack of editing for the actual articles will have to wait for another post.

What is a Blog?

I am about to teach a course on “The Essay” and that leads me to ask what is a blog? I know that blogging platforms, like WordPress, can be used to share fiction, poetry, technical manuals, and more, but in its general form of personal reflections what is a blog?

It’s a journal or diary, I expect some to answer. Yet is a diary normally so public a document?

Could we consider blogs essays? I believe there’s a case to be made for categorizing most blogs as creative non-fiction, and as essays in particular. I’m going to be reflecting on this question over the weekend. I hope to offer a better answer in a few days.

Online Dictionaries

Normally, I would have a digital dictionary installed on my computer, but when my work computer was upgraded a few months ago, I didn’t reinstall the program on the new system.

For about two weeks, my office is packed up and I’m working in a temporary location while the floors and cubicles are being replaced. The lack of a printed dictionary and my favorite style guides drove me to search for a good online dictionary. I hadn’t realized just how much I use a dictionary until I didn’t have one readily available.

My first (disappointing) discovery was the Merriam-Webster dictionary. After using it for a just over a week, I grew to dislike the slowness of the search and I was disappointed by the brevity of the definitions. I wanted more information about word origins, roots, and a more accurate (and complete) definition.

Of course, I can’t afford a subscription to the Oxford English Dictionary (the only dictionary worth owning), so I continued searching for something better than Merriam-Webster.

In true word-geek fashion, I was squealing (internally) with delight when I found the Cambridge Online Dictionary. This dictionary has less clutter on the screen and a much quicker search time. I wish the definitions were a little more complete, but I’m satisfied with the online dictionary so far.

The Cambridge Online Dictionary also includes an iGoogle widget, a toolbar dictionary for most browsers, an About Words blog about how the English language behaves, and a New Words list that is updated weekly.

Of course, there’s nothing like the OED. I have submitted a question to my county library system asking if they have a subscription to the OED. Apparently, if the library has a subscription and I have a library card, I should be able to access the OED. Otherwise, I’m hoping my husband’s university has a subscription and I’ll be able to access the online OED using his credentials.

That would REALLY have me squealing (audibly) with excitement.