I pose this question partly because I've returned to blogging, after spending 20 months only tweeting. The other part is an awareness of the quality of writing that is posted online and offline by students, academics and colleagues.
Where do I start? Julie Andrew's would suggest at the very beginning.
When I started blogging I strongly believed (and still do) that you need an audience. See my first posting: I think you're crazy just like me. But what should the audience care about when reading a posting? Should they be judging the author by the quality of their writing or the standard of written English. As the author should I worry about what readers think of me as they read my rantings? Well if I want to raise my profile and esteem then I have to worry about finding, keeping and influencing my audience. And to that end I need to self-edit my work. I definitely need to spellcheck it. And I seriously need to proof-read it.
So why doesn't everyone take care with their online writing. I appreciate it when reading student essays and assignments when they have bothered to take time with their writing. As I often say, "Nobody teaches you to read bad writing; so learning to read and assess poorly written essays takes some time to master." When I struggle to make sense of a 10 line sentence or translate the phonetic spelling I'm wondering who this student is and what they were thinking when they wrote the essay. I wonder if it was in the early hours of the morning or if they have done any reading. And I wonder why I have to read this bad writing.
But let me stop picking on my students they are learners after all and are on a journey to improve their writing. Let me turn my attention to my colleges: those who one might assume know better. The academics have been through University and have submitted numerous essays. They have written articles and reports and authored books. They have developed their skills in written communications. But these skills have been crafted in the analogue world: pre-digital. These colleagues are now being let loose on the web.
Because digital is easy to edit and amend they seem to have reduced their care in the work they post to the wide world. They give little thought to what the audience will think because if anyone comments on an error it can be removed in a moment from the offending page on the web. But it only matters if there's an audience.
This audience has two options: prejudice or protest. With prejudice you can judge the author as poor and assume future work as being unworthy. We do this with music, film, television and books. Obviously this will tarnish the author's esteem and ultimately their reputation. With protest you can spend time engaging with the author to alert them to the error of their ways. But why should we care about the quality of the work when the author hasn't; why should we be the editor?
So to my colleagues I say: "take care of what you write and learn the rules (guidelines) for writing online." Then I won't think less of you than I already do ;)