I was sitting on the bed, editing a manuscript. Patrick looked up from his computer. “I’ve found a weblog entirely devoted to copyediting,” he said. “This is from his right sidebar.” And he read:
Listen to me, I know style and how to use it. The point of the site is to advance the dialogue of style, usage and grammar as it pertains to newspaper copy editing. Everything posted here reflects my opinion on how style should be used.“There’s the true voice,” I said; meaning the true voice of the copyeditor: a distinctive thing.
I got up and had a look. There, in large black letters, was the title of the weblog: COPY EDITING, DAMNIT. “Whoops, he’s misspelled it,” I said; ‘damn it’ if two words, ‘dammit’ if one.”
“There’s the true voice,” said Patrick.
(…)Update: The weblog in question renamed itself Stylin’ and Smilin’. Some weeks later—Tuesday, September 16, 2003, to be precise—I ceased to feel any qualms about having made fun of it, because that’s when it ran this piece:
READERS FEEDBACK UPDATELe coin, c’est moi, et LanguageHat aussi.
Soon, I will have a comments option to obtain feedback about my posts. But until then, here is a sample of what has been said about Sylin’ and Smilin’ on other sites.(This site was once called “Copy editing, damnit” and apparently the misspelling of dammit/damn it caused some commotion in certain corners.)
Click on each quote to find the source.What follows are eighteen quotes about the weblog. One could, technically, classify them as reader feedback, since nine of them, nos. 5-13, are lifted directly from the comment thread for the very post you’re reading right now. Their source is never cited. It’s not even mentioned.
Five of the “links” one supposedly clicks on to see the sources of the quotes don’t work and never did. That’s because their URLs were formed by appending the e-mail addresses of their authors—Jonathan Lundell, Tim Kyger, Robert Legault, Robert Legault, and Terry Karney—to S&S’s own URL. The other four links—to Tina, Arthur Hlavaty, LanguageHat, and me—do connect to their authors’ websites, but only to their general addresses. What they don’t connect to is remarks about S&S.
This has two especially ridiculous aspects to it. First, at this remove, S&S would have been working from my archive, not my main weblog. That means he’d have had to go to extra effort to cite my general URL, instead of just copying the URL at the top of the page he was on.
Second, one of the other nine quotes not lifted from my comments thread was also written by LanguageHat; and in that instance, S&S did actually link to the source material: LanguageHat’s offhandedly magisterial demolition of his website, opinions, and general copyeditorial virtue—which demolition, by the bye, explicitly linked to my own piece.
That does it. Smilin’ and Stylin’, I am officially saying “neener, neener” to you. Having a tin ear for style is a misfortune that could happen to anyone. Being a wuss is a matter of choice.