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Correcting spelling, yes or no?

I have just been asked if it is rude to correct the spelling of comments added to your blog. An interesting question!

Like so many things, there is no clear answer about what is the ‘right thing’ to do.

I don’t think it is a valuable use of time to check every incoming comment for correct spelling and grammar, but really obvious errors are a bit different. One on hand, it is the person making the comments who will be seen to have bad spelling, not you, so it won’t affect your professional standing.

On the other hand, if the error annoys you or will detract from the message, it is very tempting to fix the error yourself.

If the comment is mostly well written and spelt correctly, I would be inclined to correct any typos or spelling errors. The person who wrote it probably would prefer to appear competent and may be kicking themselves for the error anyway!

If the comment is full of spelling mistakes that aren’t just typos, it is trickier. My instinct is to not have bad English in my blog, even bits not written by me! Someone who can’t spell well may not even notice you correcting their work, and others wouldn’t care either way – but I suspect some people would be offended to find you had corrected their words, especially if the errors were consistent (I’m particularly thinking of people who use SMS shorthand instead of proper spelling.)

Unless you know the person making the spelling mistakes and want to help them and/or know they would appreciate it, I would avoid changing their spelling. It’s harsh, but if they don’t care enough to get things right, it is their reputation they are damaging, not yours.

Of course, your response to their comment needs to be spelt perfectly and sometimes may be able to serve as a lesson in correct spelling!