Writing for Business - A Whatis.com Blog


October 29, 2012  11:27 AM

Combined words and Lewis Carroll

Ivy Wigmore Ivy Wigmore Profile: Ivy Wigmore

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”?

Ivy Wigmore Ivy Wigmore Profile: Ivy Wigmore

 

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?

Ivy Wigmore Ivy Wigmore Profile: Ivy Wigmore

 

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

Ivy Wigmore Ivy Wigmore Profile: Ivy Wigmore

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”

Ivy Wigmore Ivy Wigmore Profile: Ivy Wigmore

 

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”

Ivy Wigmore Ivy Wigmore Profile: Ivy Wigmore

 

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


October 16, 2012  1:31 PM

Do we really need words like “decisioning”?

Ivy Wigmore Ivy Wigmore Profile: Ivy Wigmore

 

Which is correct?
Business activity monitoring provides an immediate real-time monitoring and ____________ capability.
a. decisioning
b. decision-making

Continued »


October 15, 2012  3:26 PM

“Us chickens” or “we chickens”? It depends on the case.

Ivy Wigmore Ivy Wigmore Profile: Ivy Wigmore

 

Which is correct?
The bring your own device (BYOD) policy is popular with employees but it really puts a strain on __ help desk jockeys.
a. us
b. we

Continued »


October 12, 2012  6:04 PM

Could care less or couldn’t care less?

Margaret Rouse Margaret Rouse Profile: Margaret Rouse

Which is correct?

I’d like to use responsive design to make sure our site renders well on mobile devices, but our lead developer ______________________.
a. could care less
b. couldn’t care less

Continued »


October 11, 2012  8:14 PM

“Sceptical” or “skeptical”?

Ivy Wigmore Ivy Wigmore Profile: Ivy Wigmore

Which is correct?
Responding to rumors that attackers were planning a massive cyber attack, security experts remained ________ of the potential of such an attack to cripple the Internet.
a. skeptical
b. sceptical

Continued »


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