Monday, June 2, 2008

Playing by the Rules

There's some disappointment over at Deb Ng's blog about the amount of job ads being flagged on Craigslist today. The assumption is that these jobs are being flagged to discourage competition amongst writers. It's extremely similar to the disappearing reviews at Barnes and Noble.

This got me thinking about some authors I've worked with in the past. There was one author who insisted that blue jeans was a singular noun. She wanted the sentence to read, "Blue jeans is casual wear." I suggested adding "A pair of . . ." to the beginning of the sentence, or changing is to are. She refused. I then countered with Webster to prove that the term blue jeans is a plural noun. She said, "Well, Merriam-Webster is wrong, and so are you!"

It's so easy to lash out, to disregard the rules. But the most hilarious part about this nonsense is that these people flagging ads to hinder a competitive writer or deleting reviews to help an author—we're all in the same business! We are all in the business of the written word; a business that, arguably, has the most widely-accepted rules regarding how we do what we do. The same people in cyberspace who adhere to the rules of spelling, grammar, structure, and syntax to procure a writing job can't be bothered to adhere to the rules of polite society.

It's much too easy to be a bad person on the Internet; no one really knows you, so who cares if you do something ethically wrong?

Well, I care. Especially when doing so goes against the very foundation of what you're doing it for. Language is built upon rules. The rules can be bent (as most rules have been made to be), but you can't disregard them. You can't spell a word any way you want, and you can't behave any way you want.

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