Question: Should we publish style guidelines for the site and when not followed make edits or should we let people choose to write in whatever style they prefer including non-standard casing of WordPress, spelling of words like "ppl", "ru", all lowercase, etc?

I don't expect everyone will read and follow the style guidelines (actually I expect most won't) but it's relatively easy to do a quick edit as long as the volume is not overwhelming (and if it is then we can have more volunteer?) And I think it will make the site and much nicer experience for visitors and thus case them to want to use the site even more.

But I made an edit and asked someone to use proper capitalization and he replied that I should not edit his stuff and that he wants to use a casing convention that is contrary to the WordPress trademark.

As a user with high reputation points the system gives me the rights to edit other people's stuff but I don't want to unilaterally decide what the rules are.

What do you think? Should we set and uphold standards for style, casing and quality of writing here or should we just let it be a free-for-all? (yes, there is bias in my question but I'm being explicit about it.)

Thanks in advance,

-Mike

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5 Answers

I see no problem in fixing general spelling errors. This is also the sentiment on Stack Overflow. For the difference between US, British or other variants of English, a good rule-of-thumb is to stay with the variant of the original poster (since all variants are correct, as long as you remain consistent). The only exception is for tags, which must match: they are in US-English. If you fix spelling errors, remove unnecessary text ("Hello", "Thank you", ...), or chat language, you improve the question or the answer, just like you would do when you add formatting or a code example.

However, I would stay away from the way people spell WordPress, because this will lead to energy-draining edit wars. In your example, we know hakre knows enough about WordPress, so when he writes Wordpress or wordpress it's not a mistake, but a deliberate choice. If the user is new here and the rest of the post shows poor spelling, you could try to replace it, but otherwise I wouldn't do it.

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@Jan: Thanks for the comments StackOverflow links. Your knowledge of the broader StackOverflow is really helpful. I like how you discuss improving the Q&A, that's my goal. Formatting code by applying the code style is a perfect example, or hyperlinking terms like "Nginx" that not everyone knows. But given WordPress is a trademarked term and this site is about WordPress having it presented in a non-standard form makes the site appear to be much less of an authority. I don't think people will actively notice it will just "feel" more professional and thus offers a better experience. –  MikeSchinkel Sep 1 '10 at 17:45
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@Jan: As for religion, if the moderators of this site agree that representing "WordPress" in the proper casing is important than there's no debate with individuals; they write it correctly or we fix it. If they continue not to write it correctly and we start giving the occasional down vote to otherwise low quality answers as a friendly reminder. At least that's how I currently see it. –  MikeSchinkel Sep 1 '10 at 17:49
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I agree generally with Jan Fabry, but I also think that a bit of personal style goes a long way in both a) making an answer easier to read (by making it more interesting to read) and b) fostering a sense of community. Fixing spelling and grammar errors is useful (maybe essential?), but sterilizing the "voice" of an answer is not.

Having said that, the word "WordPress" is a special case (no pun intended). It is the proper name of the one specific software package that this site is devoted to and that we supposedly are discussing at an expert level. The least we can do is ensure it is always spelled (and cased) correctly on this site.

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@Doug: Thanks for the comments. I agree completely. I absolutely don't think we should edit "voice." OTOH if it is sloppiness that is a different subject to me. In my mind using all lowercase and calling it style is just rationalizing lazy typing and sloppiness. –  MikeSchinkel Sep 1 '10 at 17:37
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As a non native speaker I’m always grateful for any help. But most of the time the text should not be “fixed” unless it is absolutely necessary. Especially “wordpress” may be not an error but a statement against “censorship”. ;)

Oh, and one note: This question showed up four times in the newsfeed due to massive title editing. That was rather annoying.

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@toscho: Thanks for the comment. Points taken but with follow up questions: How do we determine when "absolutely necessary?" It's never absolutely necessary. Most people who ask questions do so with very sloppy effort. I understand having well worded and well formatted questions is not important to them (and don't hold against them), but it is important to the site so accepting editing in order to ask questions should be the ground rules IMO. And the problem with "wordpress" in lowercase is we can't tell if it's a statement (probably ~1%) or just sloppiness (probably ~99%.) –  MikeSchinkel Sep 5 '10 at 18:38
    
@toscho: As for a "statement against censorship" I find that rather uninformed. Requiring a trademark be used correctly is not censorship; censorship is defined as deleting or banning information, not requiring people to uphold a community norm: google.com/search?q=define:censorship Here's my proposed compromise: Create a "No CapitalPDangit" campaign with a logo and then include that logo in any posts to explain why WordPress is being mis-cased. Then any questions or answers having the logo won't get fixed and people will know why; everything else (including titles) will. –  MikeSchinkel Sep 5 '10 at 18:40
    
@toscho: And that was me who edited the title more than once. That's a personal failing of mine, realizing I didn't make an edit I should have until after I commit, partly because I reword a lot when I edit so I accidentally mix tenses, etc. I didn't realize that StackExchange would duplicate in the feed; that's unfortunate. I'll try even harder to ensure edits only need to be done once. –  MikeSchinkel Sep 5 '10 at 18:50
    
@toscho: Please see meta.wordpress.stackexchange.com/questions/112 –  MikeSchinkel Sep 5 '10 at 21:06
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It is (imho) “absolutely necessary” to fix bad links (domain.com instead of example.com), distorting grammar errors or illegal (long) quotations. Upper- vs lowercase etc should be left as is, as long as the text is still understandable. –  toscho Sep 6 '10 at 11:31
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@toscho @MikeSchinkel - I absolutely aggree with toscho over here. I deactivate capitalPbangit (<- misspelled with a reason) in every theme and i never write wordpress like it should be done - anymore. But i'm also not willing to post this in every answer, question or comment. –  kaiser Mar 30 '11 at 6:41
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Sometimes a question or answer needs to be edited so that it makes sense. If the reader has to re-read a statement multiple times to glean meaning from poor grammar, incorrect spelling, or overused chat lingo, then it needs to be edited. Most times, I'd defer to the original poster by asking them in the comments to rephrase their question, but sometimes that's not possible (infrequent users, non-native English speakers, etc.). In those cases, a quick edit so long as it doesn't change the original tone or quality of the question is appropriate.

Anything that's along the lines of censorship, though, would be off limits. Editors and moderators have a lot of power, and removing humor or colloquialisms that were intentionally used reeks of editorial abuse.

That said, the product we're discussing is "WordPress" ... with proper camelcase formatting. At the same time, there has been plenty of discussion/debate/arguing/bloodshed over how the formatting of this term should be performed. Some developers are intentionally misusing the camelcase as a form of protest. Not everyone, but some.

In the majority of cases, I'd say we should ask that people use the proper camelcase for WordPress. If they forget to, it shouldn't be a big deal to fix the oversight. In some situations, though, where we know the poster knows better it can be left alone. If hakre used "Wordpress" intentionally, that's his right. Now that we know it's a conscious decision, we should leave it alone from this point forward.

Other formatting (headers, lists of reference links, etc) should follow simple guidelines. Most likely set up in the FAQs. Well-formatted questions and answers are easier to read and build a higher-quality site. We should encourage formatting as much as possible and, if necessary, offer to fix mistakes as appropriate.

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I also think the proper case ("WordPress") should be used, though I've started thinking that it should actually be removed from most titles, e.g. "Trying to get fittext to work in Wordpress" to "Trying to get fittext to work in Wordpress". Someone with much higher rep. than me actually edited my edit to replace "WordPress" with "Wordpress" which is what made me track down this question here.

My thought process now is that you're on WordPress Answers asking a WordPress question so ostensibly you're trying to get something to work in WordPress. So much repetition and redundancy sometimes makes my right eyelid twitch.

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Correct, see the editing guide: Remove the words help, problem, question and WordPress (from the title). –  toscho Oct 25 '12 at 17:53
    
On editing titles - while I agree that WordPress is sure redundant while navigating the site, it does more good than harm for people searching for those things from outside and specifically for WordPress. General recommendation is to leave titles alone (unless they are real mess or don't reflect what question is about) because forcefully tidying them up might be harming how find-able they are. This doesn't mean "never touch titles", but more of "there are probably better things to spend time on than titles". –  Rarst Oct 25 '12 at 17:55
    
@toscho -- Ok, but removing "WordPress" just to replace it with "Wordpress"? Just seems silly to me. –  stealthyninja Oct 28 '12 at 21:07
    
@stealthyninja Uhm, what? It doesn’t matter how it is written, the word is useless in any case, because it is already part of the title element. –  toscho Oct 28 '12 at 21:11
    
@toscho -- Agreed, which is what perplexed me about the edit to me edit. –  stealthyninja Oct 28 '12 at 23:03
    
@stealthyninja Edit 3 was invalid and should have been rolled back. –  toscho Oct 28 '12 at 23:29
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