Lately I’ve been finding great cause to wonder about Takuchat’s intended audience and future direction, because I’ve been seeing many grammar mistakes and errors of journalism that make me wonder how seriously Takuchat intends to take itself. Are we just a “gamers’ club,” intending to share our gaming news pieces and opinions among ourselves, or do we want to be perceived and treated as professionals? (In fairness I realize that different people on the site may want different things. It might therefore benefit us all to have a common discussion about the level of professionalism we expect from each other on the site.)
I believe that we can make choices in many areas of the site that will have an impact on Takuchat’s potential audience, whether we want the site to be small and comfortable–a “circle of friends,” if you will–or large and well known (compare with something like Kotaku or The Verge).
User base provincialism
We (“we” being used here to refer to the current crop of publishing and commenting users on Takuchat, many of whom likely met on Kotaku) might know that “PSABR” stands for “PlayStation All-Stars Battle Royale,” for example, but can we expect this from casual gamers or from gamers who don’t follow PlayStation-related news?
Abbreviations are not appropriate for titles*, and it is best to use them only after fully spelling out their root word or phrase at least once. I realize that “PlayStation All-Stars Battle Royale” is quite arguably a cumbersome title, however, and if you do choose to use abbreviations or acronyms in your articles, here are some details I would like to see fully implemented:
1) Define the term. Say something along the lines of this: “PlayStation All-Stars Battle Royale (henceforth referred to as PSABR).”
2) Keep capitalization consistent. Don’t refer to “PSABR” at one point and “Psabr” at another.
* I realize that the organization “Minnesotans for Sustainability” has little to do with this website or its purpose of hosting news about video games, but the underlying grammatical principles still make sense.
Furthermore, avoid abbreviations and acronyms in contexts where their use could be interpreted ambiguously. Don’t use “GoW,” for example, in contexts where the reader can reasonably believe with equal probability that you, the author, are referring to either the Gears of War or God of War series (such as within a discussion on the action genre as a whole).
The Online Writing Lab at Purdue University states that a comma splice occurs “when two independent clauses are connected with only a comma.” If you have two clauses that could stand on their own as sentences, don’t use a comma between them. For example, the following is not acceptable:
“I really like Final Fantasy XIII, it has gorgeous environments and an entertaining gameplay model.”
Use a semicolon to emphasize the first clause or to give both of them equal emphasis:
“KingKellogg is a pretty cool guy; he kills aliens and isn’t afraid of anything.”
Use a colon to emphasize the second of two independent clauses:
“FellowMusicFan has a special announcement: he’s running for president!”
Do use commas, however, for introductory clauses:
I really appreciate all the hard work you guys are putting into the site! Thank you, everyone!
The Purdue Online Writing Lab also gives several helpful rules and uses for apostrophes, which include the following:
1) Using apostrophes for nouns’ possessive forms
2) Using apostrophes to show omission of letters
3) Using apostrophes to indicate certain plurals of lowercase letters
When dealing with contractions, try mentally expanding them in order to understand if and how apostrophes should be used:
Possessive proper nouns (that is, nouns that signify ownership and are also referring to specific people, places, or things) require apostrophes in English:
KingKellogg’s incredibly buff six-pack makes me cry.
Normal plurals do not:
These hamburgers are unevenly cooked.
Contractions and possessive forms, however, are not interchangeable. “On its own” is phrased correctly, while “on it’s own” is not. To elaborate, the latter phrase would be fully expressed as, “on it is own,” which makes no sense.
Plural possessives, however, generally do have apostrophes at their ends:
The fans’ and the bloggers’ hopes of hearing Gabe Newell sing “Amazing Grace” at the concert were not disappointed.
Your = possessive. “I hope your day at the abattoir goes well!” (“You’re” would be inappropriate here and would be rendered, “I hope you are day at the abattoir goes well!”)
You’re = contraction of you are. “You’re looking lovely in that black dress. Ready for our rock climb?”
Their = possessive. “Their public approval rating is very high, at least on Tuesdays when they halve the price of their ice cream.”
They’re = contraction of they are. “They’re not looking to expand, however. They are dealing with too many logistics issues as is.”
there = many different parts of speech depending on context; an easy thing to remember, for example, is to not use it when referring to people. “There is an apple on my head, isn’t there?”
Spell the names of games, companies, and characters properly.
If you were a game developer, how would you feel to come across a news article whose author hadn’t even checked to see if he or she spelled your game name properly? Information such as this is a Google search away. (For the record, these things are spelled as “Ratchet & Clank,” “Sackboy,” and “Xillia,” respectively.)
Cite your sources.
If you are going to make a claim about a gaming announcement, such as an upcoming release, cite it. If you are going to repeat a person’s words, whether you are directly quoting the source or simply paraphrasing (defined by Merriam-Webster as “a restatement of a text, passage, or work giving the meaning in another form”), cite it. The specifics of how you cite a source can be left for discussion or personal decision (that is, I’m not going to force all editors to adhere to APA or MLA style, for example), but one way or another, given any idea that does not clearly and specifically belong to an article author, the reader will benefit from being able to trace that idea to a reliable source. Plagiarism has no place on Takuchat.
Look over what you’ve written. Look over it again. Check your spelling. Test your formatting with WordPress’s previewing functions to make sure you are getting the formatting you expect to get. Test your links to make sure they lead to where you think they do. (This is a lesson I’ve had to learn in my sale-related articles many times!) There’s even a “proofread” button available between the “NSFW” and “fullscreen” buttons if you’re not certain.
If all else fails, please feel free to ask for help.
I have a very strong knowledge of punctuation and grammar, and I would love to be of as much assistance as I reasonably can be. I obviously can’t proofread every article, and while that issue can be worked around by having individuals volunteer their time to edit others’ posts, making sure that every article author understands grammar and punctuation would be much more efficient. Thank you all so much for your time!
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