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Is your Spelling Check in the Mail?

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This is a gender-neutral, non-partisan and multicultural public service announcement that is intended to slightly improve the quality of the blogosphere.

If you’re a male, female, intersexed, transgendered, Democrat, Republican, independent, libertarian, authoritarian, capitalist, communist, socialist, fascist, Nazi, anarchist, imperialist, isolationist, red-stater, blue-stater, swing-stater, gay, straight, bi-sexual, asexual, liberal, conservative, Christian, Jewish, Muslim, Satanist, Buddhist, Hindu, Wiccan, Scientologist, devout, doubter, atheist, agnostic, activist, apathetic, progressive, regressive, pragmatist, rationalist, generalist, propagandist, flame baiter, etc, blogger and/or blog commenter of any shape, size color or style you must check your spelling for the betterment of the blogosphere.

None of us are above the occasional spelling or typographical error. And since there are several freeware, browser extension utilities available to help us to catch those little mistakes and avoid the bandwidth-wasting wrath and flames of the legions of self-appointed spelling police who inhabit the blogosphere and other forums, there are no excuses other than perhaps, “I’m too lazy to be bothered with such trivialities as proper spelling and accurate typewriting.”

SpellBound is a port of the spellchecker code and user interface from the Mozilla Suite’s Composer that enables spell checking in web forms such as html textarea / input elements (html input password elements are not checked by SpellBound) and rich text form elements. This allows you to spell check forms (e.g. message board posts, blog entries, wysiwyg, etc.) before submitting them when using your Mozilla Firefox or Mozilla Suite browser.

ieSpell is a[n] Internet Explorer browser extension that spell checks text input boxes on a webpage (form fields). It should come in particularly handy for heavy web mail and/or forum users. The program installs as a new button in the IE toolbar – after filling a form, just hit the ieSpell button and it pops up a dialog, similar to the MS Word spell check.

tinySpell is a small spell checking program, that automatically spell checks a selected word that is copied to the clipboard. You can also set tinySpell to check your spelling on the fly while you are typing and alert you by sound whenever it detects a misspelled word. The program runs in the system tray and suggests correct spellings via mouse click menu or hotkey. Additional features include a private dictionary and an auto-replacement feature. Unique and compact, great for quick spell checking.

These are but three spell checking solutions out of many that are available. Searches on the string, [“spell checker” web browser freeware] on Yahoo and Google return many results.

These programs won’t improve your content or your grammar, but they will help to minimize spelling and typographical errors, thus lending you little bit more credibility by making you appear educated enough to at least know how to spell.

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About Margaret Romao Toigo

  • http://selfaudit.blogspot.com Aaman

    Nice – very nice – many easy and convenient web services can be spun up for combining these services.

    Not sure of the need or relevance of the dissonant pseudo-pc statement with the tech services, though

  • http://www.landofthefreehomeofthebrave.org/wp/ Margaret Romao Toigo

    Actually, I was just looking for attention via keywords in the hope that others will tune in and offer their recommendations for/against other spell checking programs, thus creating a helpful resource.

    The topic of proofreading and spell checking came up on the message boards at Blogcritic’s Yahoo! group and someone asked a question about spell checking solutions for blog posts and comments, so I replied with a link to SpellBound.

    I received an appreciative reply and realized that there are some knowledgeable people out there who are simply not aware of the existence of free browser based or independent spell checking programs.

    Minor inspiration struck and the result is the article above. Ideally, there will be no real controversy — although some of us computer geek types can get into real scorched Earth style holy wars over hardware, software and operating systems — on this thread, but rather a listing of spell checkers with commentary on their various features and bugs.

  • http://selfaudit.blogspot.com Aaman

    Will sample these tools and report back.

    On the note of the attention-getter para, it is indeed superfluous, and by that yardstick, every post should have it with the hope of boosting search ranks. Google expressly frowns on this and it can cost blogcritics (I have some familiarity with the Big G, having designed some of their processes)

    If you’re a male, female, intersexed, transgendered, Democrat, Republican, independent, libertarian, authoritarian, capitalist, communist, socialist, fascist, Nazi, anarchist, imperialist, isolationist, red-stater, blue-stater, swing-stater, gay, straight, bi-sexual, asexual, liberal, conservative, Christian, Jewish, Muslim, Satanist, Buddhist, Hindu, Wiccan, Scientologist, devout, doubter, atheist, agnostic, activist, apathetic, progressive, regressive, pragmatist, rationalist, generalist, propagandist, flame baiter, etc, blogger and/or blog commenter of any shape, size color or style you must genuflect before Juju

  • jarboy

    good advice, and easy to install. lettz see hwo it wroks

  • http://warmonger.mu.nu Jeremy

    How about a purple-stated Seikh? Do they have to worry about spelling too?

    Nice touch, I liked that.

    Something should be said that one or two typos on occasion should not be dwelled upon. One of the things that irks me to no end is when people will completely ignore the point of your article simply because you did something simple like the their, there, they’re debacle.

  • http://selfaudit.blogspot.com Aaman

    You misspelled Sikh :)

  • http://www.landofthefreehomeofthebrave.org/wp/ Margaret Romao Toigo

    Well, a spell checker isn’t going to help with their, there and they’re or to, two and too, here and hear or your and you’re, but there are a few tricks that help people to remember.

    Their, which is the possessive form of they, contains “heir” which refers to people who inherit possessions.

    There, which refers to a location, contains the word, “here,” as in here, there and everywhere (note the “ere”).

    They’re is a contraction of “they are” and the apostrophe reminds us of that. The same type of thinking pattern is helpful to distinguish you’re, the contraction of “you are,” from your, the possessive form of “you.”

    Too means also or more than enough, so it needs the extra “o” to illustrate that point.

    Hear means to perceive (sound) by ear and appropriately contains the word, “ear.”

    To many people, this is elementary school stuff and these explanations might seem a bit condescending, but it is not because there are some intelligent and well-educated people with huge vocabularies who cannot seem to get the knack of remembering how to spell common, 2-5 letter homophones.

  • jarboy

    i remember, marg, i just don’t think about it when i’m writing quickly. if i take the time to proofread i usually can catch it, but i often don’t take the time. i think this is the case with many other educated people, they know what is correct, but are in a hurry. so you sweet little rules won’t help.

  • http://www.landofthefreehomeofthebrave.org/wp/ Margaret Romao Toigo

    You’re right, jarboy, memory games and spell checkers don’t do much for people who are in too much of a hurry to have time to use them.

    But people who wish to avoid the distractions (from content) that such spelling and typographical errors sometimes cause should consider making the time to proofread and spell check.

    And then there is that question of credibility, how can we trust that writers have checked their facts for accuracy if they do not appear to have bothered with checking their spelling?

  • jarboy

    i don’t trust anyone in a blog such as this to have their there they’re facts right. i don’t know who the fudge they are, why should i trust anything they say? i could just as easily call myself margaret romao toigo as jarboy. i don’t even trust most of the media to have their there they’re facts right.

  • james mclafferty

    Question:Are spelling b’s a compulsory thing in american schools or a bit of fun?.And if compulsory do you think they are a bit on the unfair side for kids who’s vocabulary isn’t as strong as others?.(does that make sense?)

  • Duane

    Well, James, let’s see. I think a little visit from the Comment Police is in order.

    (1) b’s should be bees, and lose those unnecessary apostrophes

    (2) there should be a comma after the second occurrence of “compulsory”

    (3) who’s should be whose

    (4) others should be others’

    Where’s Clubhouse Cancer when you need him?

    That’s a very helpful post, Margaret, but I don’t use spellcheckers, becuase I never make spelling mistakes. In other words, even if I make a typo, I always catch it just by a coursory reading of what I typed. Typos just seam to jump right off the page when I read.

  • james mclafferty

    Ah but duane my dear man,being english we don’t have spelling BEES, so wouldn’t know whether it was b’s or bees(got any wasps lol!).And i don’t know if your using the american spelling but who’s is definately spelt that way office 2003 finds no fault with it.And again others is fine english as well i think you need to check you spellchecker on office or whatever your using but remember there are subtle differences in the english and american spelling of certain words,colour for example over your side of the pond it’s color.

  • http://paperfrigate.blogspot.com DrPat

    Ah, Duane, but “cursory” is the one that means “brief” – not sure what “coursory” means…

    The point is, we ALL make mistakes (although MINE are always due to the gremlins in my keyboard.) And Spellbound, which I just installed today after reading Margaret’s note in Yahoo group, helps me avoid posting them.

  • james mclafferty

    Duane what the hell is whose?Hi Dr pat:-), He slightly embarrassed himself there did he not, my english as far as i can see is fine.His post sort of backfired but as you say everybody makes mistakes when typing,otherwise office wouldn’t need a spell check no harm done.;-)

  • Duane

    Good points, James, my most esteemed fellow blogpostcommenter. But as I have always said, what do the English know about English spelling and grammar? Ha! Just kiddng, old sport. Now, down to cases, as it were. The word who’s is a contraction of who is, as in “Who’s coming to tea besides Ian and Beatrice?” The word whose implies ownership, as in “Whose Yorkshire pudding recipe did you use?” I think you will see, by referring back to your post #11, that “whose” is correct. Right! Now, as for others vs. others’, your post reads “… kids who’s vocabulary isn’t as strong as others?”, which implies … kids whose vocabulary isn’t as strong as other kids’ vocabularies? Note the apostrophe on the kids’ to show ownership. So, for example, to make the distinction a little clearer, you could say, “I’ll leave picky discussions about grammar to others.” On the other hand, you could say, “It’s the others’ problem to sort out.” Or, if you’re referring to a single person, “It’s the other’s problem to sort out.” As for the bees, what do you call them across the pond?

  • Duane

    Ah, Duane, but “cursory” is the one that means “brief” – not sure what “coursory” means…

    Yes, DrPat, you have a keen eye. But I see that my little stab at self-deprecating humor went nowhere.

  • http://blogcritics.org/author.php?author=Cerulean Cerulean

    Movable Type could use a spelling and grammar check.

  • http://selfaudit.blogspot.com Aaman

    “ghoti”

  • SFC SKI

    Aaman, are you trolling for comments?

  • http://www.immafooker.com Brooke Lee

    Wait, what if you’re lazy AND an idiot?

    In my defense I make most of my spelling errors when I’m wasted. You shouldn’t drink and blog, but I do it anyway — I’m less interesting sober.

  • Duane

    Well, I am lazy, and I’m an idiot, but never both at the same time.

  • Duane

    Aaman, do you like ghoughpteighbteaus with your ghoti?

  • http://selfaudit.blogspot.com Aaman

    SFC – “ghoti” is pronounced fish – re G B Shaw – used to show the fallacies of English spelling and pronounciation.

    Duane, I prefer potatoes.

  • SFC SKI

    Aaman, that is why I asked if you were “trolling” or are you not familiar with the ways one catches a “ghoti”?

  • http://selfaudit.blogspot.com Aaman

    Heh – that ‘ghoti’ slipped by me:)

  • SFC SKI

    Talking about the one that got away? Well, you got the second part of catching ghoti down.

  • james mclafferty

    Hi Duane:-)this post has turned into quite a bit of fun,we simply call our spelling bees “spelling tests”,which i find simple and straight to the point.

  • SFC SKI

    “Bee: Etymology: perhaps from English dialect been help given by neighbors, from Middle English bene prayer, boon, from Old English bEn prayer ”

    In the old days, quilting bees were communal efforts, perhaps spelling bees borrowed the term from this practice, in the sense of a community competition.

  • James Mclafferty

    There are just some words that are easily confused like their and they’re.And words that are spelt the same but have two different meanings like “live”eg:I live in england, or another is my god is this a live radio station?.Why do americans drop the “u” in colour?, any history to it?

  • http://www.landofthefreehomeofthebrave.org/wp/ Margaret Romao Toigo

    Spelling bees are contests in which children take turns trying to spell words aloud. They are eliminated from competition when they spell a word incorrectly. The child who is left at the end is the winner and usually receives a small prize like pencils, erasers or notepads.

    Spelling bees are usually not optional in classrooms, but they do not count toward grading as they are intended to be spelling exercises that help the students prepare for their spelling tests.

    A Yahoo! search on the string [“movable type” “spell checker”] returns many results that contain various requests (and complaints) for a spell checker for Movable Type.

    I did find one possible Movable Type spell checker solution called MTSpeling.

    I cannot speak for the quality of this solution or the ease of its implementation (it has only been tested with Movable Type version 2.51 and also requires International Ispell 3.1 or later and Lingua:Ispell, a Perl module), but it might be worth looking into — if it has not already been tested and scrapped by Blogcritics’ IT folks.

  • SFC SKI

    Spell checkers are great tools but no substitute for a good grasp of the language and a large vocabulary. Context has a lot to do with word usage, as well. (Sorry, it ‘s a pet peeve with me, especially as it’s a major distractor in reading translations.)

  • http://www.bhwblog.com bhw

    I looked at MTSpeling a couple of years ago. For a non-technical person like myself, it was extremely difficult to figure out how to install. Philip would probably understand it. But I went looking for other options and found IESpell. Sayonara, MTSpeling.

    Our BC application has almost no real MT code left in it. Philip has rewritten it, so MT plugins don’t usually work.

    Besides, IESpell and Spellbound are incredibly simple to install and use. I’m not sure why anyone would want to have another MT plugin to deal with, anyway.

  • http://www.landofthefreehomeofthebrave.org/wp/ Margaret Romao Toigo

    SFC SKI is right, spell checkers are no substitute for a good grasp of language and vocabulary (and spell checkers don’t correct the usage of homophones like there, their and they’re), but they do catch common typographical errors such as flipped or missing letters.

    bhw, I’m not sure why anyone would want to have another plug-in either as having too many features usually causes more bugs.

    But the question came up and I looked into it because Blogcritics’ editors seem to be somewhat concerned about the grammar and spelling in posts here and some of the posters here do not appear to be terribly interested in implementing client-side spell checking solutions.

  • http://www.bhwblog.com bhw

    Yeah, I can’t explain why posters wouldn’t want the client spell checkers. They can be used in any web form.

  • http://www.landofthefreehomeofthebrave.org/wp/ Margaret Romao Toigo

    I can understand why non-technical people might be intimidated by the non-automatic — and sometimes rather mysterious — process of downloading and installing software from the Internet.

    Not everyone has a knack for understanding such things, especially when the documentation is often sparsely written by technical people who assume that all users have the same level of skill as they do.

    What I do not understand is why some people do not seem to care about checking their spelling whether the spell checker is client or server side.

  • http://www.landofthefreehomeofthebrave.org/wp/ Margaret Romao Toigo

    I can understand why non-technical people might be intimidated by the non-automatic — and sometimes rather mysterious — process of downloading and installing software from the Internet.

    Not everyone has a knack for understanding such things, especially when the documentation is often sparsely written by technical people who assume that all users have the same level of skill as they do.

    What I do not understand is why some people do not seem to care about checking their spelling whether the spell checker is client or server side.

  • jarboy

    #21 “I’m less interesting sober.”

    spoken like a true alcoholic!

    blogwear should have spellcheck built in. until it is, i won’t be spell cehcking.

  • James Mclafferty

    Thanks for the explanations of what your spelling bees are about Margaret. Totally interesting reading but i think if they were over here in the uk the kids who came last would be unfairly ridiculed which is why i don’t necesarily agree with the competitive side of american schools.American kids seem to be forced to grow up quicker than other parts of the world.To a certain degree competitiveness is a good thing but everything from the “got to be cool to get in sororities”,to the “got to be beautiful to be a cheerleader” side of it seems a bit harsh and people i imagine will be left behind in life with all this going on.Please ignore any bad grammar it’s 22:32 in the evening and i’m dog tired.