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About the most recent strip

About the most recent strip.

Over the course of the last three hundred comics, pretty much everyone has been the butt of the joke except the reader. I figured it was time to do something about that.

Actually, I labored quite a bit over this comic. I tried to maintain the joke while making the tone as gentle and self-effacing as possible. Overall I seem to have succeeded in that, but a few of the readers do seem to have gotten their feelings hurt. I’d like to clarify my position.

I HATE the fact that I make these stupid spelling and grammar errors. I’ve written before about the steps I take to try to prevent them, and I swear it seems like the harder I try to make a comic error-free, the more likely there is to be an error.

I am grateful to those who catch my mistakes and politely point them out to me. The problem, and I’m not the only person who has noticed this, is that finding my blunders has turned into a game, similar to “Where’s Waldo” or trying to find the bunny logo hidden on the cover of Playboy (hint: It’s seldom if ever on the “boobs,” so you can stop looking there). Also, some of the corrections have taken an increasingly derisive tone. Perhaps I’m just playing the over-sensitive artiste, but when you post a strip you’re proud of, then check to see people’s reaction and get fifteen variations of “prophesy is spelled with an S in this case, moron” it starts to detract from the fun. Judging from the comments, it’s beginning to bother many of the readers as well.

Again, a lot of the dogpile-like nature of the comments does stem from the fact that I moderate comments, and cannot do it in real time, so most of the correctors don’t know that they aren’t the first to give me a heads-up. This is not the corrector’s fault, but even they would probably admit that the cumulative effect is not pleasant.

So here’s the problem I have. I want to encourage the majority of you who correct me in a polite manner, while preventing the finding of my flaws from turning into some kind of drinking game. Here’s what I’ve come up with.

From now on, if you spot an error in Basic Instructions, you are encouraged to leave a comment telling me. You are doing me a favor in doing this, I just ask that you remember that I’m a real person over here, not a drawing. I will correct it as soon as possible, but I will not post your comment to the site. This way the comic gets fixed (which is all most of us want anyway) but nobody gets the credit for catching the error first, or for making the wittiest comment about the error.

Thanks for your time.

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Reader Comments (28)

Sometimes people freak out about mistakes that are really subjective or stylistic choices. Don't forget that some people who correct grammar are wrong themselves. As a person who is picky about English I've never noticed any grievous errors. Great job on the comics.

May 6, 2010 | Unregistered Commenterbeanination

The "polite" way to correct someone has always been to do it privately, but so much for politeness here on the world rude web.

Scott, your comic genius overshadows any of the boorish remarks. You make me laugh hard, and I'm grateful for that. Please keep up your excellent work.

May 6, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterNotVito

I'm commenting for the first time just to say, thanks.

I'm sure most of your readers would agree that to enjoy a person's creative work on the internet, for free, is a privilege that is getting less and less frequent, and that work needs not to be judged harshly.

I'm not an English major, but I am a regular guy thankful that I have found your strip. Keep up the good work.

May 6, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterJS

Are you familiar with the EPCOT story at Cake Wrecks? (You know the site that reposted your fireman cake.) You might enjoy the cautionary tale of when commenters get overzealous.

May 6, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterZach

Dude, I never read the comments, ever. This is my first comment, despite reading the comic ever since the Scott Adams thing. I don't care about the mistakes, if I notice them, which is never. I just think your strip and self-deprecating sense of humor is hilarious. So don't stress about the haters, nobody is listening to them.

May 6, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterGreg L

So what you're saying is, in effect, even though the bunny is "seldom if ever" on the boobs, there may still be a non-zero chance that it IS on the boobs? Right? It seems to me that it would be careless and sloppy NOT to look at the boobs.

You know, just in case.

Was there more in context to your post? Because that's the important thing I got out of it.

May 6, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterSimon

Your welcome ...crap! I spelled "you're" wrong again!

I read through all the comments (199 at present) and found 3 that expressed hurt: me, Bob, and BI Fan. We all remembered this ( http://basicinstructions.net/news/2009/7/30/grammar.html#comment6406702 ) note which you refer to in this entry.

I was hurt because I have personally commented on a few mistakes. I almost always read the comic before the first set of comments is approved. As such I thought I was helping by informing you of the mistake that night to minimize the number of readers who might point it out the next day. I've tried different approaches. I have apologized for making a correction. Other times I felt it natural to jot off a comment like a post-it note. My last correction (and any future corrections until this happened) I included a directive that approving the comment was not necessary. I thought that would demonstrate to you that I didn't care for recognition - I just wanted to help.

I was hurt because the comic invited many readers to criticize those who took your last word on the subject of corrections at face value. They judged us, said we just wanted to feel superior. Two commenters on this note (beanination and Greg L) say they have never seen a major mistake. Would that be the case if some early reader did not tell you that you left out a word the first dialogue balloon in panel 1?

I do enjoy reading your comic and I appreciate the attempt to incorporate the reader as the fool. I just wish it had been for something other than a behavior you had encouraged in the past.

May 7, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterZach

Haters to the left, please.

May 7, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterMeg

This issue is like an ogre ... err .. I mean onion. It has layers!

I enjoyed the comic. I enjoyed it even more after I knew the intention. I have a shirt that says "National Sarcasm Society" with the line below it "Like we need your support". I can laugh at my obsessive compulsive leanings.

I didn't read all the comments, however, "tone" is so lost in written form. It takes effort and time to communicate the tone of the written word.

I cannot imagine going through what you do Scott. Becoming popular can be a curse as I am seeing you experience. I hope that it will be more of a blessing. You have a talent, one I hope you continue to use. I really hope that it turns profitable for you.

I think by not approving the comment that points out corrections is a good idea. I know when I read the comic before comments get out, I don't want to leave a comment about a misspelling figuring someone has already pointed it out.

Somehow you need to find a way to take the irritation and embarrassment you feel when you make a mistake that someone else points out and let it pass through you quickly or harness it to use for another task. Strangely for me I have found that learning to fly a RC helicopter these past 4 weeks has helped me deal with my occasional surges of emotions.

When the "Oh sh!t" moment comes while learning to fly the helicopter (and there seems to be 5 or more every battery), you have to quickly get your bearings and clear your head or you will crash (have crashed twice). You have to get the copter oriented in a familiar way so you know which way to move to get it down safely. Now when something pisses me off like politicians, neighbor suing me to take some of my property, getting cut off in traffic, I now practice thinking about what I have going good for me instead of letting my anger carry me away into thinking how unfair it is.

The above paragraphs were about my experiences, it was not me drawing conclusions about how you are handling this situation. Simply sharing.

In the end, keep up the good work mistakes and all.

May 7, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterAC

Scott, great idea thanks! I always read the comments because there's often some that are funny/interesting as well. The whole grammar thing is really getting to be a beat down. Usually by the time I've seen it you've already corrected it anyway. Can you make friends with an english teacher somewhere and have them edit your comic before publishing? I mean, if Earnest Hemingway had just published his works without someone editing the world would spend all their time jumping on all his spelling and grammar errors. That's what editors are for. Just a suggestion, I'd rather you spent all your energy creating more funny comics!

May 7, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterJames Poteet


Your comics never cease to amaze me. Coming from a small "middle of nowhere town" I applaud you. I myself have never noticed the mistakes. I focus more on the plot of the comic. You do a very good job.

May 7, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterChels

here here! It was getting annoying. I mean here you are providing a service to use for basically free for years and all you get is hate? Seriously, what is wrong with these guys?

Anyhow, I have never once noticed a single "error" if there are any I would write it off as poetic license. Hell, even Shakespeare made a few grammar errors.

Keep up the good work!

May 8, 2010 | Unregistered Commenterisiah

Scott, if you moderate all posts why not delete the ones with corrections, after making the corrections of course, anyone who posted a correction would know from the altering of the strip that it was received and the rest of us wouldn't be bored by thirteen corrections of one mis-steak.

May 10, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterJeff

I don't generally comment on stuff, but I just wanted to let you know you are doing an awesome job.

These people who are getting obnoxious about point out the grammar are idiots. I'm sure they're trying (sort of) to be helpful, but honestly...

Let it roll off your back - it's a good idea to not post the comments about errors, but keep in mind that there are far more of us just laughing our asses off than there are critiquing your work.

May 10, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterJen

That comic was one of the funniest ones you've done, in my opinion. What made it even better was that several people made a comment that you misspelled something on the second panel - obviously they didn't read the whole thing!

Some people are just jerks, just ignore them!

May 10, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterTodd

I don't usually comment, especially when I am just repeating what others have said, but it sounds like you could use the encouragement.
First and foremost - that is an excellent solution. Like you, I don't mind the "grammar" comments, but when it takes over the string of comments it takes away from the strip. Plus, some people are just jerks.
Secondly, as a proud owner of an Infinitee shirt, keep up the great work. I start every workday pulling up basic instructions. You give me a smile and I appreciate it.
Simply put - Thanks!

May 11, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterFrank M

Bullet points for brevity (something I'm not good at):
* Scott, this is a great solution.
* I'm known as "grammar king" in some circles, so I have noticed the mistakes. I have never felt the need to comment on them as I'm too busy laughing at the genius of the strip.
* The "mistakes" strip was SUPER-genius!

Keep up the great work. Your strip is gold!

May 12, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterCTB

Yes, indeed you're strip is gold.

Please don't let haters get you down! Your solutions sounds ok to me!

May 14, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterReader

Thanks Scott. The grammar nazis were making me nuts!

May 17, 2010 | Unregistered Commentermaribethann65

Typographical perfection is for grumpy editors. Dialog from nothing is a much more interesting challenge.

June 20, 2010 | Unregistered Commenterfan

The bunny logo isn't on the boobs? @#$%! That's why I can never find it.

June 30, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterMe

What's this, cool people online summit? Where have you guys been in my basic cyber life before? Actually I am still in the prenatal phase of cyberlife, just converting the linear way of thinking to digital. As for the spelling mess... Obviously it's just a minor part of me being linguistically challenged. And this spelling discussion works like a therapy.
Why? To make the long story a little shorter, I am a kind of lost Croatian (don't panic, it's just another nationality), broadcast journalist temporarily living in the USA. You may even find my first blogging steps named Arizona 4 Outsiders. If you can't Google it, just one more proof that I am in desperate need of basic instructions. If you find it and figure out what in the world I am trying to say in my Englsih-like language, please let me know, you'll make my day. To be totally honest, commenting is a part of assignment for Online Media class.
But I will certainly go on reading you, as this is the first time ever that I am having fun with comments.
O happy day when I discovered you!

September 26, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterDaria M.

To add some disgraphical pain to my previous linguistics problems: chek out how I write English. Desperado...

September 26, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterDaria M.

Thank you for your information. It will be useful for me .I need it.

October 25, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterCheap Coach Bags

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