Writing for Business - A Whatis.com Blog


November 1, 2012  1:13 PM

Misplaced modifiers and dangling participles



Posted by: Ivy Wigmore
common grammar errors, dangling modifiers

 

Which is correct?
a. As a quick and easy way to share content, I recommend Dropbox.
b. I recommend Dropbox as a quick and easy way to share content.

Continued »

October 31, 2012  12:36 PM

Halloween (or Hallowe’en) history, trivia and a quiz



Posted by: Ivy Wigmore
grammar, hyphenation, spelling, spelling holiday names, trivia

Which is correct?
_________ is here and you know what that means — cybercriminals have set up bait sites for SEO poisoning.
a. Hallowe’en
b. Halloween

Continued »


October 30, 2012  8:16 PM

Should you capitalize “president”?



Posted by: Ivy Wigmore
capitalization, capitalization and job titles

 

Which is correct?
The CEO is often the _______ of the company.
a. President
b. president

Continued »


October 29, 2012  1:52 PM

What was the first word transmitted on the Internet?



Posted by: Ivy Wigmore
CIO, Quiz, tech writing

The first word transmitted on the Internet, on Oct. 29, 1969, was “lo.” The funny thing is, it was accidental. What word did they intend to type?

Continued »


October 29, 2012  11:27 AM

Combined words and Lewis Carroll



Posted by: Ivy Wigmore
CIO, grammar quiz, grammatical terms, Lewis Carroll, word meaning

Which is correct?

What do you call words like phablet,  Kinect and electrocute, that are each made up of parts of two words?
a. retronyms
b. portmanteaus
c. anacronyms

Bonus questions: What two words are each of those made from?
a. phablet = ______ + ________
b. Kinect = _______ + ________
c. electrocute = _______ + _______

Continued »


October 26, 2012  3:03 PM

“myriad” or “a myriad of”?



Posted by: Ivy Wigmore
CIO, Greek, word meanings

 

Which is correct?
Phablets are among ________ new gadgets introduced in the last few years.
a. myriad
b. a myriad of

Continued »


October 24, 2012  1:08 PM

What’s wrong with this sentence?



Posted by: Ivy Wigmore
dependent clauses, sentence structure, what does this sentence mean?

 

What’s wrong with this sentence?

Windows Server 2012 is the latest version of Windows Server, formerly named Windows Server 8.

Continued »


October 22, 2012  8:50 PM

Linkbaiting: The good, the bad, the ugly — and a mystery solved



Posted by: Ivy Wigmore
word meanings, writing for business

I was writing about linkbaiting today, the practice of trying to entice readers to link to your content. Of course, the best link bait is good content. But high-quality content is no longer sufficient with the mountains of content — some of it good! — available online these days. You need to use tactics to get your content in front of enough readers so that some people will link to it and it will, eventually, perform better in search results.

Catchy titles are in again! A few years ago, snappy titles were all the rage. They were link bait, although they weren’t called that then. The concept was simple: Write a compelling title that represents your content. But then came the dark days of SEO dominance. It seems that search engine bots and readers aren’t attracted by the same types of titles, so “snappy” was out and things like keyword stuffing were in, instead. Although that was frowned upon as a tactic, it worked for a while.

I’m kind of excited to be legitimately trying to attract humans again. Like most things, though, there’s a right way to do it and a wrong way:

Right: Create a title that makes the reader want to read your content. And make sure the content provides what the reader expects from your title.
Wrong: Create a title that makes the reader want to read your content. And then provide some content that may have some slight connection to the title.

So. Getting back to my title, that’s the good and bad. Here’s the ugly part. While I was researching linkbaiting, I came across a linkbait title generator. SEOhosting.com provides an example of searching on “dog training”:

 Here are some of the linkbait ideas that this tool generated:

  • The 7 most controversial videos of all time about dog training
  • 10 ways people have gotten rich exploiting dog training
  • 5 amazing things you probably didn’t know about dog training
  • 6 shockingly evil things about dog training
  • 5 insane but true things about dog training
Their catchy title was: Linkbait generator: A tool every blogger should try. I’m not convinced — and on principle, I’m not linking. I have no issue with the titles themselves but the fact is,  a lot of people are writing generic content about, say, dog training, and then slapping on  titles like “5 insane but true things about dog training” to attract readers. That’s ugly.

I wondered where all those wild titles for poorly written content came from. And that’s a mystery solved.

For more on linkbaiting, see Jonathan Morrow’s Why no one links to your best posts (and what to do about it)

Follow me on Twitter @tao_of_grammar.


October 19, 2012  1:55 PM

“Withold” or “withhold”



Posted by: Ivy Wigmore
common misspellings, spelling

 

Which is correct?
Publicly traded companies cannot legally _________ financial results.
a. withold
b. withhold

Continued »


October 17, 2012  2:45 PM

I don’t like it, you don’t like it … but there may be some slight excuse for “decisioning”



Posted by: Ivy Wigmore
busines writing, CIO, flamebait, jargon, jargon glossary, non-words, tech writing, verbing

 

I’m carrying on from yesterday’s post on decisioning, which generated some heated responses. The flamebait: “Is “decisioning” an acceptable word?” Among the responses:

@kemulholland: No, “decisioning” is not acceptable in any context except a Dilbert strip. Kill it with FIRE.

@KellyDrill: No no no no no.

@EastBeachEdit: Only if “choicing” is too.

@H_E_Sarah: Not just no, but *ALL-CAPS EXPLETIVE deleted* NO!

@kemulholland: Thanks for starting my day with the post on “decisioning” – I’m awake! My claws are sharp! Let the editing begin!

This morning, I heard from the other side, in a tweet from @intelligentform informing me that “decisioning”  is “actually a technical term in IT, particularly in regards to Decision Management and Business Rules.”

No further explanation was provided and I didn’t really find such a vague allusion satisfactory as an argument. We define technical terms on WhatIs.com. We try to avoid jargon as much as possible and at least mark it as such when we have to refer to it. So I did a little search for a definition of “decisioning” and here’s what I found, among the expected marketing gobbledygook:

From ZootWeb.com: 

Decisioning
The process of obtaining an automated decision based on pre-determined pass/fail criteria.

Although I’m sure there must be a better word, that definition at least differentiates decisioning from human decision-making  – decisioning is an automated decision-making process. I don’t like it, but I can understand why we might want to have a different word for when software makes a decision as opposed to when a human does.

The Free Dictionary allows it as a transitive verb:

tr.v. de·ci·sionedde·ci·sion·ingde·ci·sions  Sports

To defeat by a decision, as in boxing: decisioned his opponent in the third round.

Ohhhhhhh… it comes from sports. I should have known.

I thought I’d run a Google search just to see how many hits “decisioning” gets: 410,000

First time I searched, though, I inadvertently entered Google’s predictive text-generated search term, “decisioning solutions.”

Apparently someone thought it was a cool term to use as their company name. Uh, no.

There were also generic references, as in this article:
Realtime decisioning solutions will be a differentiator for customer service

Anyway, if you’ve finished retching, I’ll give you the numbers for “decisioning solutions”: 41,300.

And you thought “decisioning” was as bad as it got.

 

Follow me on Twitter @tao_of_grammar


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