Factorial, August 2011

Spelling mistakes costly for online business

In a BBC article, Sean Coughlan writes that poor spelling results in lost revenue for internet businesses.

He quotes online entrepreneur Charles Duncombe, who says a single spelling mistake can cut online sales in half and that this loss can be analysed. He measured the revenue per visitor to the tightsplease.co.uk website and found that the revenue was twice as high after an error was corrected.

His concerns about poor spelling are echoed by the Confederation of British Industry and the Oxford Internet Institute at Oxford University.

Read the full article at http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/education-14130854

Is the semicolon dying?

An article in The Australian would suggest the semicolon is on the decline in business writing, but still has a place in fiction. The article by Imre Salusinszky starts:

‘For centuries, the semicolon has carved out a tenuous – but precious – place for itself between the comma and the colon.

Without the humble semicolon, some of the greatest achievements of English prose – the looping, qualified sentences of Henry James; the elaborate, ironic juxtapositions of Evelyn Waugh – would not have been possible. It has endured; it has persisted; it has even thrived.

But now – under the various pressures of texting, email, journalese, “plain English” and PowerPoint – the career of the semicolon appears rapidly to be approaching a full-stop.’

Read the full article at http://www.theaustralian.com.au/news/opinion/life-of-the-semicolon-heading-for-a-full-stop/story-e6frg6zo-1226109371840

2011 Bulwer-Lytton Fiction Contest

The Bulwer-Lytton Fiction Contest, started in 1982, asks writers to submit the worst possible opening sentences to imaginary novels.

And the 2011 winner is Sue Fondrie with this sentence:

‘Cheryl’s mind turned like the vanes of a wind-powered turbine, chopping her sparrow-like thoughts into bloody pieces that fell onto a growing pile of forgotten memories.’

Use and abuse of acronyms

With thanks to a reader who sent me this:

‘Due to the current financial situation caused by the slowdown in the economy, Congress has decided to implement a scheme to put workers of 50 years of age and above on early, mandatory retirement, thus creating jobs and reducing unemployment. This scheme will be known as RAPE (Retire Aged People Early).

Persons selected to be RAPED can apply to Congress to be considered for the SHAFT program (Special Help After Forced Termination).

Persons who have been RAPED and SHAFTED will be reviewed under the SCREW program (System Covering Retired-Early Workers).

A person may be RAPED once, SHAFTED twice and SCREWED as many times as Congress deems appropriate.

Persons who have been RAPED could get AIDS (Additional Income for Dependants & Spouse) or HERPES (Half Earnings for Retired Personnel Early Severance).

Obviously persons who have AIDS or HERPES will not be SHAFTED or SCREWED any further by Congress.

Persons who are not RAPED and are staying on will receive as much SHIT (Special High Intensity Training) as possible. Congress has always prided themselves on the amount of SHIT they give their citizens. Should you feel that you do not receive enough SHIT, please bring this to the attention of your Congressman, who has been trained to give you all the SHIT you can handle.


The Committee for Economic Value of Individual Lives (EVIL)

PS Due to recent budget cuts and the rising cost of electricity, gas and oil, as well as current market conditions, the Light at the End of the Tunnel has been turned off.’

Quote of the month

‘All my best thoughts were stolen by the ancients.’

Ralph Waldo Emerson


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