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I have a new e-mail signature!

Code Pink is a national (international?) organization of female activists and friends, with local chapters organized via e-mail group. And, like any e-mail group that is not carefully policed for same, it has certain offenses against the English of:
  • the King
  • the Queen
  • the OED
  • Webster
  • Bob the Angry Flower
  • UrbanDictionary.com

If someone generally spells correctly, I don't really care if they make a typo. If someone generally takes care to write with decent attention to grammar, I don't mind the occasional "ain't" slipping through. (Darkside says "ain't", and occasionally it's very jarring, because he's so polished otherwise.) I am not going to expect my dyslexic roommate to get every word right every time, especially given that when she's told to copy a word twenty times and has the word written down in front of her to copy, she'll get twenty different ways to spell it. I don't spell-check my comments unless a) I'm unsure of a word or I know I got it wrong but I can't think of how it's actually spelled off-hand, or b) it's a Really Important Comment and I want to make sure I don't look stupid. This is because I know my spelling is generally good.

My expectations of correct language are directly proportionate to the length of time in which the person has to compose what they're saying. I'm going to expect a lot of hot typo action in IRC, IM, and other real-time text exchanges. Given that LJ comments are off-the-cuff and can't be edited, I'm going to expect rather a lot there as well, but a little less than IRC, because a reply isn't expected in quite real time, and the responses are generally longer. An LJ post or a personal e-mail is longer still, depending on the context. If it's an editorial column type piece, I'm going to expect that it's going to be polished. If it's a rant, I'm expecting less polish, but still a decent amount of care with words, if not coherent sense. If it's just a reply or follow-up or short update on things, I'm not expecting much over a comment's standard of care with the language.

If you're sending an e-mail to a whole bunch of people, many of whom you don't know, you should at least give it a once-over to see that it makes coherent sense, then fix any obvious errors. If this is a college class and you're turning in a paper, even a first draft, I'm expecting that you will have done basic proofreading and corrected absolutely everything that you could find that was wrong before you hand it in, so that the teacher's time is not wasted with the stuff you should have learned in high school.

I don't care about internet loan-words finding their way into casual contexts. In any sort of formal setting, that stuff is right out, like general casual language is right out. I would not say "w00t" in a formal e-mail that's getting sent to the client, just like I would not say "that's totally the shit" or even "it's, like, awesome, dude!"

If you're going out in public with your language, even in a casual setting, and you think that capital letters in the right places, apostrophes in the right places, correct spelling, and correct grammar are not needed on the internet, and you're not even making that effort, get out of my sight. Unless either your pinky or your keyboard is broken, you can work a shift key just fine. If you think that "LOL" is punctuation, get out of my sight. If you feel the need to abbreviate at least one word a sentence because typing it out in full would take too long or be too much work, get out of my sight. If you feel that ellipses can be used to substitute for a comma or a period, you've been hanging out on too many message boards and you owe it to yourself and them to set a better example than that, even though you can still stay in my sight if you're my roommate. :-P

Now, when I know someone, they're in my space, and they're causing this kind of scary thing to happen, I will tell them about it. Occasionally, if it's something that's driving me completely fucking nuts or is rude beyond all bearing, I will ask them to shape up or leave. (A recent frequent flyer in the comments section was wont to use "lol" as if it were punctuation. I tried to see if I could put up with it for a while. After it was used insensitively in really the wrong place, it turned out I couldn't. I asked them to either quit it, or quit commenting. They wound up leaving.)

If it's a public space, however, or a space controlled by someone else, there's really nothing I can do to enforce that someone who alternates between all lower-case and all capitals pretty much on a sentence-by-sentence basis quit this, even though I would dearly love to. This is where my passive-aggressive bitch status comes into things.

Pretty much everyone will have seen, at one point or another, e-mails from someone whose company makes them use a disclaimer signature, one of those "The opinions in this e-mail are the opinions of the sender, not their company", or "The stuff in this e-mail might be confidential, so if it is, and it's not for you, delete it unread and forget you saw it, m'kay?" There are numerous joke signatures based on the prevalence of those Official Disclaimer signatures.

So at about 4 in the morning, as I was finally falling over horizontal and hcolleen was becoming verbal, I was complaining about the horrific writing "skills" of certain members of the local Code Pink chapter, as demonstrated on the e-mail list. I sniped that I should have a passive-aggressive signature or something, and verbally sketched one out to her. She, being awake and at her computer and used to me saying odd things before I fall asleep, typed down what I'd said and sent it to me. I hacked at it a bit after I woke up. The signature on my primary e-mail account now reads:

This e-mail contains a decent attempt at the following: correctly placed capital letters, appropriate punctuation, vaguely accurate spelling, and something like English grammar. Please return the courtesy and make the same effort.
Gone away, gone ahead,
Echoes roll unanswered.
Empty, open, dusty, dead.
Why have all the Weyrfolk fled?

Where have dragons gone together
Leaving weyrs to wind and weather,
Setting herdbeasts free of tether;
Gone, our safeguards, gone, but whither?

Have they flown to some new weyr
Where cruel Threads some others fear?
Are they worlds away from here?
Why, oh why the empty weyr?

-- "The Question Song", Anne McCaffrey
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