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Dani_C's avatar

Question about Fluther policies and guidelines?

Asked by Dani_C (142points) 3 weeks ago

This is the second time I’ve had to write this, given it wasn’t terribly clear what to click on after having written what I wrote. I now realise it was the “ask Fluther” button rather than “Exit.” Thanks, Fluther. Most sites just say “post question.” Sort of knocks out any doubt, doesn’t it.

Anyway, my question is in regards to Fluther’s policies and guidelines. Because this morning, when I came on here, I had a private message off a moderator telling me that I was not using proper capitalisation, and to watch my spelling and grammar as well, as failure to do so makes you look bad, and you want to look “spiffy.”

What a warm welcome considering I have only just joined. It also implied in the message that I was somehow tarnishing Fluther by not using capitals where they are supposed to be.

I would hate to tarnish Fluther’s reputation or contribute to it not looking spiffy. I’d feel just awful.

Anyway, regarding your rule that states “proper English only.” Wow. That one took me by surprise. Are you saying that you won’t allow anyone on here who isn’t a native English speaker? Or were you just referring to text speak? Hopefully it’s the latter. Because I was shocked when I saw that.

I will let you in on a little secret. I came on here because I’m a journalist and I have been asked to review and compare various question and answer websites, including the Q&A giant, Quora.

So, in fairness, if you would like a chance to elaborate on your policies and rules, I will take that into consideration.

I have to say, though, in all the websites I’ve ever joined, I’ve never, not even once, been sent a message regarding my grammar or lack of use of capitals. Nowhere near. Nobody else is that bothered. I think other sites are more concerned with actual content. You know, posts that are offensive or inflammatory, or just really stupid.

Yet I couldn’t find any rules on here about that. Go figure.

Anyway, thanks for your message. Was a nice warm welcome this morning for me. Trust it’s made a lasting impression and it will be mentioned in the review.

I’ll be sure to send your moderators a copy of my review, or at least a link to it, when it’s finished. They can then correct any poor punctuation or grammar, or spelling mistakes, as it seems apparent they are more concerned with that than with actual content.


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14 Answers

Darth_Algar's avatar

So what’s your question?

gorillapaws's avatar

@Dani_C Here’s a link to Fluther’s Writing Standards. I don’t think they’ve changed in over a decade. Is there a specific policy within the writing standards that you disagree with?

Yellowdog's avatar

If you really are a journalist, you ought to appreciate that most Q&A sites DO have writing standards. There are many people who don’t know anything but text garbage because they never learned to write or read.

In any case, I believe several of the moderators are German speakers / writers, and this is an international community. Standard English is what we all speak.

Mimishu1995's avatar

This question reads more like a rant to me than an actual question. Anyway, it’s true that Fluther is more concerned about grammar than a lot of other sites out there, and I agree that sometimes the moderation can be a bit overzealous and I know some people here who aren’t so pleased about this, but I don’t see why we have to be upset at the same level as you do. Given a choice, I would rather read a clear, easy-to-understand post than a post full of txtspk. This really reminds me of this meme

And I think you are being too extreme when you say Fluther cares more about grammar than actual content. The general guideline states clearly that no trolling, spamming, etc… Is allowed. You can see this rule again if you go look for specific guideline for each section. If this isn’t about the content then I don’t know what is. Bottom line: Fluther cares as much about actual content as grammar.

I have been a member for 7 years now, and I have had my questions modded from time to time. What this teaches me is how to accept feedback gracefully. I have been in situations where I had to edit my things, and some situations were much more intense than a Fluther’s modded question. If I had been upset every time someone told me my grammar was wrong, I would have died of a heart attack by now.

stanleybmanly's avatar

You must consider that moderation here is a thankless job at best. Moreover, enforcement of the laughably vaunted standards is so necessarily random and arbitrary that tedious policing is by far the exception—and by no means the rule. This is not to say that we are free from the irritation of occasional nitpicking on the part of our gods in displays of their omnipotence, or the whining of tattletales and snitches demanding the censoring of certain questions or answers by our overseers. You will soon discover (if you stick around) that we are plagued with our share of abysmal mutilations of the Queen’s English concomitant with those of the society at large. Bon appetit.

canidmajor's avatar

@Dani_C They try to keep the site as clean and accessible as possible. The mods do take into account whether or not you are a native speaker, just tell them. They also understand that during a rapid and/or emotional exchange the autocorrect or predictive text on smaller devices can contribute to unnoticed-right-away typos.

As a writer/journalist I would think you would be mindful of and appreciate the attention paid to correct grammar usage. The point is, after all, to have your posts read and understood.

And sorry to burst your bubble, but the chances that your review (Really? Threatening us with a review?) will mean anything at all are very slim, as this site is undergoing no new development, and still exists only because the founders are gracious enough to keep the servers up and running as a courtesy.

If you do indeed mention Fluther in some sort of review, please find a way to post it here, I would be interested to read such a thing.

jca2's avatar

My guess is that someone who writes for a living would find proper grammar, punctuation and capitalization to be second nature, much like brushing teeth or tying shoelaces.

I agree with @Mimishu1995 that this sounds more like a rant.

I’ve had stuff modded, too, and I’m generally a fairly good writer, and I’m an excellent typist, so it’s second nature to me, as well. I lick my wounds and fix my screw up, and move on.

janbb's avatar

Fluther is a small quirky jellyfish swimming in the vast sea of internet options. It has been in existance for about 13 years, pretty long for the interwebs. We are a tightknit community that is happy to welcome newcomers but don’t necessarily take kindly to those who feel the need to critique the site upon first joining, as you can see.

Those who stay, generally appreciate the writing standards although we all feel a bit hurt sometimes when modded. And as someone above said, some of our best writers of English are from overseas and some have improved their writing greatly by sticking around. Perhaps you might too.

lucillelucillelucille's avatar

I am surprised you’d identify yourself so soon in your research.
With time you’d have discovered that it is a mostly left leaning site but right wingers are usually greeted with a hearty welcome (sometimes a hug,a big kiss and a pat on the arse)
Opposing political and religious let’s not forget that opinions are welcomed with open arms and a wish to gain deeper understanding.
During the rare heated disagreement, you’ll never see any insults or name calling of others or their views as tolerance is what it’s all about.
Why? Because it’s all about love here and all you need is is all you need

ucme's avatar

If I stuck around for so long & somehow accrued this much in terms of numbers, then this little, loony, leftist joint can’t be all bad…now can it?

As a journo, all you need to know is I basically run this place.
I may even give you a brief interview & perhaps a pic featuring my handsome, almost classic profile :D

Demosthenes's avatar

This site isn’t really conducive to having new members. It basically exists on life support with a small handful of members who’ve been here for a million years and are familiar with the rules. The reason it still exists is for the benefit of these few long-time users. There aren’t any attempts to draw new users here. It’s not easy for a new user to join at this point. That’s just the reality of it.

SavoirFaire's avatar

Just to get everyone on the same page here, this is the message we send about the writing standards:

“Hi there, and welcome to Fluther!

I wanted to make you aware of our writing standards, which require the use of proper spelling, punctuation, and capitalization in questions and answers. We like Fluther to appear smart and spiffy, and this attention to detail helps set us apart from other Q&A sites. Please use proper capitalization, punctuation, and spelling in your posts.

Thanks for playing along!


This message was written a very long time ago by the original moderation team (which included the site’s founders), and it is sent to new members who have one or more answers removed for not adhering to the writing standards. It is meant to be light and friendly, and it is mostly successful in that regard. Since I first became a moderator in 2011, we’ve only had one or two negative reactions to the message that I can remember.

That said, I understand that not everyone will interpret the message in the same way, so I’m sorry if you found it rude or offensive. I will point out, however, that nothing in the message suggests that you have “tarnished” the site or that your style of writing makes you or the site “look bad.” It’s just that the founders considered this one way to make the site stand out from other Q&A sites (some of which are notoriously unintelligible and discombobulated).

And to be clear, we do not prohibit non-native English speakers from participating here. We have several non-native English speakers who contribute, and the moderation team has also included non-native speakers at various points in time. As you suspected, the rule that says “Use proper English” primarily refers to not using text speak. That’s why the full rule reads “Use proper English (no txtspk),” with spelling and punctuation getting separate bullet points.

The site did not always have writing standards. Early on in the site’s life, however, the founders decided that not having standards was detracting from their vision of what they wanted the site to be. That’s when they decided to start requiring proper spelling, capitalization, grammar and punctuation.

But while we may be sticklers, we are not perfectionists. Everyone makes mistakes, and we don’t remove responses for small errors (like a single failure to capitalize or using the wrong form of their/there/they’re or to/too/two). We also don’t remove things just because they are written less than ideally (though some users flag their own questions or answers if they wish to rewrite them in a less confusing way). It is persistent and consistent errors that get moderated.

Regarding the “Ask Fluther” button, I’m sorry that you found it confusing. I will note, however, that it is in the same place as the “Continue” button that one must click to progress through the question asking process. Most people find it fairly intuitive, but I understand that not everyone will experience things the same way. So again, my apologies for the inconvenience.

As for rules about the actual content of questions and answers, the Guidelines can be found under the tab immediately to the left of the writing standards. The guidelines include a section outlining the Important Rules (which prohibit things like trolling, hate speech, harassment, deception, and so forth).

And finally, Fluther is not a commercial site. It does not compete with other Q&A sites, nor is it actively under development or seeking to grow. New users are certainly welcome, and those few who join up tend to acclimate pretty quickly. But for the most part, the site is a community of people who have all been around for a long time. So while you are of course free to compare us to whatever other sites you’d like, do understand that we’re not really concerned with the same metrics as those to whom you are comparing us.

canidmajor's avatar

I have a feeling that @Dani_C isn’t really a journalist (unless, of course, she writes exclusively for the e.e.cummings gazette) and just got outraged that this happened and wanted to present some lofty and intimidating excuse for the rant.

jca2's avatar

The journalist who’s doing a review of the site only visited one day and never returned?

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