The English in this Article is too Poor for Publication

Peter B. GiblettStarred Page By Peter B. Giblett, 7th Oct 2014 | Follow this author | RSS Feed | Short URL http://nut.bz/1dpgfe6k/
Posted in Wikinut>Writing>Tips

The chances are that if you are reading this then you are not the person this article is really aimed at, there are some writers that have been Wikinut members for more than a year and yet they continue to submit articles that have sub-standard usage of the English language. This is unacceptable and here is why.

Not a Native English Speaker?

There is no rule which states you must have English as your mother-tongue in order to write good English, indeed one of the great aspects of the Internet is the fact that it opens up avenues for a large number of people who would not have had a prior opportunity to let the world know their views.

I have the greatest respect for those who communicate in the English language even-though they come from a country where English is not their first language. I was once severely criticised for allowing an article from a new writer through when the English used was hard for a native English speaker to understand, the reason for allowing the publication was to encourage the writer to try again and improve over time - what the critic did not see was the note I sent the writer welcoming them to the site and telling then that they needed to improve their English usage.

Yet one thing must be remembered and that is that Wikinut only publishes articles in English and it is therefore imperative that the language used be understood by an English speaker.

Whether the writer comes from Bangladesh, Viet Nam, Cambodia, Tibet or any other land where English is not commonly spoken they communicate with people whose only language is English, they need to imagine that they are presenting their article to Queen Elizabeth, the monarch of the United Kingdom, the birthplace of the English language. How would she feel about what they have to say? Would she understand it?

Quality is Vital!

I cannot speak regarding the needs of any other site, but as a moderator here on Wikinut I am asked to evaluate the quality of the language used for every article that I moderate.

Let's be very clear from the outset that it is possible to find errors even in the best written material, but there is a gulf of difference between an error in a well written article and one written by a person that fails to demonstrate even basic grammatical or language usage. One such writer has been a member here for more than two years and has published more than 500 articles on Wikinut and continues to post new submissions every day and sometimes 5, 10, or more posts, all of which contain basic language errors. This is a writer that never comments on other peoples material and never reads any notes sent to them, in brief they are not really a part of our community even though they publish here.

This morning I rejected their submission with a note saying "The English in this article is too poor for publication", and on reflection this has been a sentence that I have been forced to use all too often recently when rejecting submissions.

The English is too Poor for Publication

If you intend to communicate using this great language called English then you should learn to use it correctly. Having pointed out the fact that there are many non-native people that make errors I will also bring to everyone's attention the fact that I have also rejected a submission recently from a native English speaker because the English usage was too poor for publication. Do not assume for one moment that simply because you are white skinned English, American, Australian, or even Canadian that you are immune to being rejected for poor use of the language, in fact your presentation is likely to be analysed more critically than someone from Botswana.

Truth is that spelling and grammar are important criteria for search engines like Google and Bing and can impact page rankings.

Duane Forrester, Bing Senior Product Manager, recently wrote a post suggesting that the Bing search engine looks very carefully at the quality of content, including grammar and spelling. He writes, “…just as you’re judging others’ writing, so the engines judge yours. If you struggle to get past typos, why would an engine show a page of content with errors higher in the rankings when other pages of error free content exist to serve the searcher? Like it or not, we’re judged by the quality of the results we show. So we are constantly watching the quality of the content we see.”

It cannot be clearer than this that quality matters, even on Google there is a correlation between spelling and PageRank, to which it must be concluded that if you wish your content to be noticed then you had better use the language correctly.

Want your Articles to rank Well?

If you wish to maximise readership potential then it should be clear that two things need to happen:

  • The quality of your specific article needs to be top-notch
  • The overall quality on Wikinut needs to be high

I will ask the question - how can we expect Google or Bing to take this site seriously if the overall quality of contributions is not top-notch? Every writer that makes a contribution to this site needs to think very seriously about the value of everything they post here on Wikinut - because it is time that we start rejecting material that does not measure up.

A Challenge for all writers

All writers here on Wikinut need to strive to improve all contributions that they make - we need this as a community.

Image Credits:

  • The Speaker from a Rayalty-free collection by Green Street owned by the author
  • Up Arrow Royalty-free image by IMSI - collection owned by author
  • Poor English - Word Cloud by Peter Giblett
  • Page Rank - Word cloud by Peter Giblett

Other Articles

The following are some of the more recent articles that Peter Giblett has published:

Each person has a unique voice and Wikinut is great a place for you to share some of your wisdom, insight and knowledge, you could start by adding a comment, but perhaps you need something more in which case should join Wikinut, write then become connected to others who share a passion for writing, supporting one another, and learning on Wikinut.

Tags

Bing, English, English Language, Google, Google Rank, Improve, Not Their First Language, Too Poor For Publication

Meet the author

author avatar Peter B. Giblett
Author of "Is your Business Ready? For the Social Media Revolution"

Social media consultant, with C-Level background.

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Comments

author avatar Steve Kinsman
7th Oct 2014 (#)

Here! Here! and Amen!

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author avatar Retired
8th Oct 2014 (#)

Dear Steve: Do you know it's actually "Hear! Hear!"? -- as in "hear ye, hear ye," from the days of the town criers. I'm sorry for being such a stickler. I can't help myself. Lol ...

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author avatar Nancy Czerwinski
7th Oct 2014 (#)

Peter, thank you for sharing this article. I welcome suggestions from everyone. I've always known that we need to write to the best of our ability. I did not realize that the moderators were dealing with so many issues. Now that I think about it I can see that you have your hands full with all of us. I appreciate your honesty and believe that once these issues are brought to the writers on Wikinut everyone will try harder to write great articles for publication. I for one welcome articles from the moderators because it makes me stop and think about how I can improve my own work.

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author avatar Peter B. Giblett
8th Oct 2014 (#)

Nancy, The challenge as always is being ready for self improvement and as long as we pay attention to the content we create and put in our best work then we can all help the site improve but it is those who could not care less that are the obstacle we all have.

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author avatar GV Rama Rao
7th Oct 2014 (#)

Although I agree with the meat of the article, I'd like to say that all English speaking people do not write good English. I'm an ESL English Second Language person, but I constantly try to get the nuances of English. Secondly, English has many variations. The Americans will find Queen's English odd to say the least.

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author avatar Retired
7th Oct 2014 (#)

If I was being critical, I would say that a better way of phrasing your first sentence would be " ... not all English-speaking people write good English" - otherwise you are saying that there is not a single English-speaking person who can write properly!

I only mention this because you talk about the nuances of English, and this is one such example.

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author avatar Peter B. Giblett
7th Oct 2014 (#)

John, thank you for pointing out my error - I must have gone through that a dozen times and did not notice it, which proves we are all capable of making a mistake.

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author avatar Retired
8th Oct 2014 (#)

Peter, I was actually replying to the comment made by "GV" - not to anything in your original piece!

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author avatar Peter B. Giblett
8th Oct 2014 (#)

GV, I know that we have a large number of writers from the Indian sub-continent and I agree there are many nuances in the English language which provide a challenge for those, like yourself who come to English as a second language, yet you are a shining star here because you communicate clearly. I know how complex it is to learn a new language and applaud those who do, especially those who are brave enough to write in their new language.

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author avatar Mark Gordon Brown
7th Oct 2014 (#)

I am rejecting all sorts of articles with poor grammar, not just because the grammar is bad but because it is horrible, clearly the person just stole another article and changed some words via a translator and tried to publish it as their own.

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author avatar Peter B. Giblett
8th Oct 2014 (#)

I think some of that may be happening, but also there is an element of some writers understanding certain phrases because they have heard them over and over again on TV programmes yet for less common phrases they are build them from the ground up.

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author avatar Retired
7th Oct 2014 (#)

Thank you for expressing so well your caring about the quality and standards of Wikinut, Peter. I hope, as a community, we'll all take heed. This is a writing site; not a writers' "workshop."

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author avatar Nancy Czerwinski
7th Oct 2014 (#)

Susan, I liked what you stated about this not being "a writer's workshop." That is a really good point.

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author avatar Peter B. Giblett
8th Oct 2014 (#)

Susan and Nancy, Very true it is not a writers workshop, but that thought is something I have been working on and it is my intention to create such a workshop in a way that we can assist our fellow writers.

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author avatar Retired
8th Oct 2014 (#)

I think a separate writers' workshop (as a sub-category or something like that) is an excellent idea.

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author avatar Lee Hansen
7th Oct 2014 (#)

Peter thanks for the advice. We can all learn from it to be better writers.

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author avatar jogiemar
7th Oct 2014 (#)

I'm so thankful for this great article Sir Peter. Since from the beginning I only used my phone just to do my writings because I don't have computer at home either laptop. For this article I understand that I should do what the moderator's comment And suggestions. From now on, I must go to Internet Shop to ask the help from Google, Bing, for my grammar, and attach image for my writings.

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author avatar Peter B. Giblett
8th Oct 2014 (#)

&jogiemar, I am glad to see you here commenting on this article and always hope that I can assist writers such as yourself.

It is certainly a great challenge to write articles from your phone - I tried to post some directly to Wikinut and very soon gave it up as a bad idea, despite having a great smart-phone. The best advice that I can offer is to suggest you use something like Evernote that will allow you to collect your thoughts via the phone then translate them through a computer later on as this will allow you to check for spelling and other errors you may have made.

One thing I would like to point out regarding your comment and that is we generally do not pluralise the word writing. We may publish many articles (or posts) but our writing goes on as long as we live.

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author avatar jogiemar
8th Oct 2014 (#)

Thank you Sir Peter. GOD bless you more.

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author avatar Sivaramakrishnan A
8th Oct 2014 (#)

It is clear moderators are not having an easy time and one sore point is the poor language, thanks Peter for highlighting this vital issue. I believe in making the best effort in whatever I do - it is not only extending my courtesy to another but also for them to take me seriously. That is one reason I do not venture into other sites where quantity seems to matter more and also irrational exuberance in encouraging others! (I may be wrong - could be, you scratch my back for me to do likewise).

Wikinut has moderators and I find them impartial and ever encouraging right from passing posts that are not publish worthy with a hope their quality will improve over time. However, a surfeit of poor and dubious articles not only test the patience of moderators but also make them irrelevant - they have to draw the line at some point in time. It should also encourage those who put their best foot forward further - siva

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author avatar Peter B. Giblett
8th Oct 2014 (#)

Siva, I believe that we have a great community here, but I have to agree with a point that Susan Durham made 'This is a writing site; not a writers' "workshop"' although any experienced writer can always offer assistance to anyone that seeks our help, but ultimatly the writer must themselves put their best foot forward.

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author avatar snerfu
8th Oct 2014 (#)

It is true that my thoughts sometimes run along the grammar lines of my native tongue. English is a simple language with hard and fast rules.

Taking care to keep within those rules of expression seems to the correct thing to do.

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author avatar snerfu
8th Oct 2014 (#)

Sorry, it should read "seems to be".

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author avatar Peter B. Giblett
8th Oct 2014 (#)

&snerfu you have hit upon an important challenge the grammar rules for one language probably do not work for another.

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author avatar spirited
8th Oct 2014 (#)

"Rayalty-free"

It is indeed very hard to write a perfect article.

I nearly always check nuances in the language because although I learnt them years ago, I am often rusty in the memory of them.

A simple Google search about how to use certain words to check on your correct usage of them is easy enough to do.

Things like Jesus' or Jesus's is one I check over in my own writing. Which is correct?

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author avatar Peter B. Giblett
8th Oct 2014 (#)

Jesus' would only be used where there are multiple people called Jesus, so Jesus's is correct. One of the problems here is that spell checkers often get this wrong or give misleading choices.

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author avatar Retired
4th Nov 2014 (#)

Peter: I was always taught that the use of the apostrophe to show possession by a person with a name ending in s, should always avoid the second s; it's redundant. "Joseph L. Mankiewicz' Cleopatra" is a case in point. You would have expected an 'apostrophe s' but there isn't one.

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author avatar Elaine Rose G Nachon
8th Oct 2014 (#)

I am new to this site and have not yet published any article. I am still working on the revisions of my first page hoping for acceptance. Simply reading the comments in this article made me realize that "to keep on writing is to keep on improving."

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author avatar Retired
8th Oct 2014 (#)

My advice to Elaine would be to point out that every journey begins with the first step - you will never know how good you are at anything until you try!

If you build a good list of followers, who will be notified as soon as you publish anything, you will soon get comments on anything you publish, and you can then build on what they say should you need to make improvements. I suggest that you follow all the people who have commented on this post - most of them are likely to repay the compliment.

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author avatar Peter B. Giblett
8th Oct 2014 (#)

Elaine, what John says here is perfectly true, at some point you do have to dip your toe in the water. I have seen three perfect first-timer articles, but these were by already accomplished writers.

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author avatar Ptrikha
8th Oct 2014 (#)

Quality does matter a lot, and I have seen that my personal efforts to improve my usage of English has yielded positive results for me on Wikinut. The same I cannot say about Bubblews, because that is a different ball game altogether. The fact that we have good moderators on Wikinut including you helps a lot on Wikinut.

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author avatar Peter B. Giblett
8th Oct 2014 (#)

Thank you for pointing out the difference between sites.

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author avatar Retired
8th Oct 2014 (#)

Ptrikha is right about Bubblews, where anything goes and the standard of written English is often appalling. Wikinut is different, and I appreciate that the delay in getting your work published is a price worth paying if it keeps the real rubbish at bay.

However, what Wikinut must not do, in my opinion, is go down the road that Helium did - by imposing standards that were far too strict and led to some absurd rules being applied.

There is a balance to be struck here, and getting it exactly right is not easy - you won't please everyone, whatever you do!

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author avatar Peter B. Giblett
8th Oct 2014 (#)

John, I do agree that there is a balance to be struck - I am also aware that we all make mistakes and people should not be punished for minor slips, although if you make such an error in the Page Title, Page Summary, or first paragraph then moderators are likely to point it out and ask for a correction before publication, because this is about putting your best foot forward and that is where readers pay most attention.

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author avatar Ptrikha
9th Oct 2014 (#)

John, I feel Wikinut has this balance- have checks on quality but don't be a strict disciplinarian or have any army style discipline.

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author avatar pohtiongho
8th Oct 2014 (#)

I was once trying to write for another website. I listed my title as : Piping for Mechanical Engineer
Sever people, all of them writers from that site walloped me by telling me the title must be for a mechanical engineer or for the mechanical engineers. They laughed at me for not knowing to add in "a" or " the ". That was my subject title. I thought it was perfectly correct to leave out "the or a".
That site is no longer on my list. I had enough.

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author avatar Retired
8th Oct 2014 (#)

I wonder why you did not take the advice that was being offered, given that it was not only correct but also presumably well-meant?

As it stands, the title is meaningless and it does need a definite or indefinite article - or it could simply be rephrased as "Piping for Mechanical Engineers" - which is probably the best solution here ("for the mechanical engineers" would not have been right).

There are several languages that do not use articles, and it is difficult for people whose native language is one of these to get to grips with the way that English uses them, which can be quite subtle.

Laughing at somebody for getting it wrong is neither kind nor clever, but this is the sort of mistake that a learner of English can and should learn from if they are ever going to write idiomatic English.

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author avatar Peter B. Giblett
8th Oct 2014 (#)

&pohtiongho, I would agree with John that "Piping for Mechanical Engineers" is correct and it is so because you are writing the piece for that group in general and therefore you must refer to them with the plural.

The use of "the" and "a" or "an" is difficult for those whose language does not include definite or indefinite articles and we have many writers that this applies to here on Wikinut. In brief every object must be associated with "the", "a", or "an" and usually we use "the" when an object is known or has been previously identified.

It is very wrong to poke fun at people who are trying to learn. I am at this moment developing a course for anyone who wishes to improve their English usage.

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author avatar pohtiongho
9th Oct 2014 (#)

When I left out the "a" or "the", I was thinking it was only for the title. I deliberately left it out.
That mistake was not committed in the main essay. So in future I shall stick to the rules even if I am writing only the heading for any article. Thanks for the polite feed backs.

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author avatar Peter B. Giblett
9th Oct 2014 (#)

That particular title did not need "a" or "the". In producing titles you have to be a little imaginative because you only have about 6 to 10 words to get the point over.

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author avatar Nancy Czerwinski
8th Oct 2014 (#)

Peter, I love the idea of a workshop. I would welcome the learning experience. I have taken many writing classes and I still have a lot to learn.

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author avatar Retired
8th Oct 2014 (#)

You always take the high road, Peter, expressing your welcome to new Wikinut writers with recommendations for improving their English.

Accepting poorly written pieces for publication, however, does a disservice to the site. It's a sure way to reduce, if not lose, readership. Nor is a moderator's job to remediate poor writing, educate on grammar, provide workshops, or to give "feel good" sentiments for effort, which only promotes mediocrity.

Your allegiance is to the site to keep writing standards high and advance the site towards being a respected place for opinion, news, and information instead of a "online publisher for the masses."

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author avatar Peter B. Giblett
9th Oct 2014 (#)

LeRain, I am not sure about taking the high road, but thank you.

I agree that it is not a moderator's job to "remediate poor writing". I have helped writers that have asked for advice in the past and will continue to do so because it helps develop peoples knowledge. I am opposed to mediocrity in writing, which is why I wrote this article - if you see a piece with sub-standard English then moderators are likely to have rejected ten that were even worse.

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author avatar Phyl Campbell
9th Oct 2014 (#)

I agree that people need to learn, and agree with the idea of encouraging new writers -- native speakers or not. I don't think that's Peter's (or any moderator's) issue here.
I've seen and reported a number of verbatim copied articles from one Wikinut who had been a member longer that I have been. The author in question did include the website where the information was retrieved, but did not even bother to spin it. The whole article should have been in quotation marks. And it happened a number of times.
Given the amount of time I spend on every article (on average, 8 hours over 2 days) -- and I'll admit there can still be the random typo, mistake, or forgotten element here and there -- I just can't fathom people who post five or more articles a day. And though it's allowed, I really don't like articles that were previously published on other sites. Even when I share something that has been on my blog or webpage previously, I write new content around it, explaining why I've shared it again and why I think it has current relevancy and value.
Some write faster than me, and that's fine. But I'm also good with the idea of a ban on "writers" who continually post sub-par work for credit without engaging with the community. At some point, enough must be enough.
Peter, thanks for raising the issue.

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author avatar Peter B. Giblett
9th Oct 2014 (#)

Phyl, Despite our checks some plagiarised material does get through occasionally.

I wish others would spend the sane amount of time carrying out what I call due-diligence checks on their writing before submitting it, I spend similar amounts of time checking and re-checking everything before submitting it - but still I slip occasionally.

I am glad to see there is general agreement that it as a good idea to not publish those who continue to post sub-standard material. Funnily enough this is where my eyesight defect helps me because I use software to read most material to me and it tends to make errors very clear indeed.

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author avatar Retired
9th Oct 2014 (#)

Most of my posts were written first on other sites, so I can't agree with Phyl on this point.

My reason for so doing is that the site that originally contained the bulk of those articles is Helium, which is about to close. I don't want to lose the benefit of all the work I put into those articles, and I can also use the facility of Wikinut to revise those articles by updating them and correcting the typos and slip-ups that Phyl mentions as being inevitable. That strikes me as being perfectly legitimate - I state to the moderators that this is what I am doing and they have no problem with it.

One thing we have to watch out for is "spun" content, especially when it is material copied from other writers. Automatic spinning can lead to absolute garbage being produced, and I am sure that the moderators recognise this when it is submitted.

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author avatar pohtiongho
10th Oct 2014 (#)

John: All the articles I posted on the Internet are my own work. And I keep the copyright. There was one website which wanted me to post my articles to only that site and I told them to fly kites at O'Hare International Airport !! I have the copyright and if I want to publish those articles elsewhere, no one must stop me. I simply remove him from my list.

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author avatar Phyl Campbell
22nd Oct 2014 (#)

(Not that he'll ever come back to see this, but...) John makes a good argument. And I know his articles from Helium are well researched and generally error-free. I know he is taking the time to correct any minor errors as he re-posts. This is very different from someone who takes a sub-par article from another site and dumps it here to make more money and drag down the content on this site. Not, that I'm sure John's realized, that there's a ton of money to be made here. This site is about the community, not the bank.

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author avatar Retired
22nd Oct 2014 (#)

Who says I won't?! Thanks for the endorsement, Phyl.

As you say, we don't do this for the cash - and I am not sure that there is anywhere now where any decent cash can be made from our kind of writing.

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author avatar Peter B. Giblett
9th Oct 2014 (#)

John, There is much latitude with former Helium and YCN writers because we know they are moving material here from sites that are disappearing

I agree with you about "spun" material because I have personally experimented with spinning software and if you auto-spin a good sentence it becomes garbage and much time has to be spent making it sensible again. Spinning is certainly responsible for an element of these bad posts, but certainly not all.

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author avatar Nancy Czerwinski
9th Oct 2014 (#)

Peter, I'm not sure what you mean by spinning. Could you please explain it? Thank you in advance.

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author avatar Peter B. Giblett
11th Oct 2014 (#)

Nancy, spinning is a technique whereby a writer can create an alternative article that has exactly the same meaning as the first but because alternative words are used Google thinks it is a different article. Most spinning is performed by software. Trouble is if your English understanding is poor then you will not recognise a badly structured spun sentence, individual word swaps may be valid, but the sentence fails to make sense.

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author avatar Abdur Quaderi
10th Oct 2014 (#)

Nice article Peter. And an intelligently chosen title. The title itself will be like a magnet.

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author avatar Peter B. Giblett
11th Oct 2014 (#)

Abdur, I would like to say that I thought long and hard about the title, but it is a phrase that I have had to use all too often this year when moderating poorly written articles.

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author avatar Nancy Czerwinski
11th Oct 2014 (#)

Thanks Peter for answering my question about spinning. I learned something new.

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author avatar pohtiongho
22nd Oct 2014 (#)

Some guys who thought they speak and write better English than me, told me that it was wrong to say : I appeared for the GCE Exams. According to them the correct English is: I sat for the GCE Exams.

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author avatar Retired
4th Nov 2014 (#)

As a person who lived and working in England for 22 years, I have learned to be 'bilingual'. The English have developed different ways of saying things that sound idiotic to people who come from different countries. The one you quoted is a case in point. A Canadian would have said, "I wrote the GCE Exams."

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author avatar Retired
4th Nov 2014 (#)

*and worked in England* - the fingers type faster than my mind can keep up with...

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author avatar Peter B. Giblett
4th Nov 2014 (#)

As an Englishman living in Canada I know Canadians and Americans both say "I wrote the GCE Exams", but the English person would definitely say "I sat the GCE Exams."

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author avatar Retired
4th Nov 2014 (#)

If somebody said that they wrote an exam, I would understand them to mean that they were one of the examiners who compiled the questions!

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author avatar Peter B. Giblett
4th Nov 2014 (#)

Agreed John, and that could certainly be a point of confusion across both continents.

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author avatar AjaySinghChauhan
25th Oct 2014 (#)

very interesting, thanks for sharing it with us

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author avatar Lucie Christine
3rd Nov 2014 (#)

Very useful article and comments. As a new writer, whose mothertongue is not English, I understood that the more I write - and coorecting myself - the more I improve (or hope to do so)

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author avatar Peter B. Giblett
4th Nov 2014 (#)

I wish you well on your writing journey.

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author avatar viewgreen
9th Jan 2015 (#)

Honestly, English is not my mother tongue but it's as a second language in my home country. At least I am proud to have been able to channel one of my hobbies is writing in the extraordinary program of Wikinut because it has published some of my articles.
I am aware that Wikinut program is a program which accepts members from all continents, so it is natural that I and another people who are not as English native speakers like yours are different. So then, a simple question is; How would you feel if you are not from the continent that is not uses English as a native language? and also what do you think of when you experience it?
At least for me myself is far more sufficient for understanding your native language (English), but sure, I'm proud of you if you understand my native language or any languages of other continents?
I would like to thank you very much for your suggestions and advice which you often say when being a moderator in some of mine. Precisely with constructive criticism is increasingly spurred me to learn more about your language (English).
Thank you for sharing this valuable information. :)

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author avatar Peter B. Giblett
9th Jan 2015 (#)

Viewgreen, please understand that my wife's mother tongue is not English so I know very well the challenges faced by those coming to English as a second language. She however speaks English better than I do and gives me peculiar looks when I use certain slang.

Her advice to anyone coming to English as a second language is to read and read a lot, you should read well known authors who have published many books, she says that reading habit has taught her all about the subtleties of the language, personally I have a little understanding of Hindi and her language, but I am far, far from being an expert, but I do know that usage (reading, speaking and writing) helps people improve.

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author avatar viewgreen
10th Jan 2015 (#)

I see and thank you sir. Sure, I agree with Lucie Christine comment above about this topic, and would I like to know that where she is come from? I'm not an Indian by the way. Thank you sir for a great response. Have a nice day. :)

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author avatar Peter B. Giblett
10th Jan 2015 (#)

I was not suggesting you were, I was simply answering your hypothetical challenge with a life-based example

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