Wednesday, July 08, 2009

Will punctuation help you get your point across?

There’s a thread on FriendFeed that quite appropriately warns people of the dangers of failing to use a comma when tweeting. Anyone who’s given it much thought understands that punctuation can be key in getting your point across (or mangling it). However, sometimes using or omitting punctuation properly is lost on those who don’t give it much thought, and reading that funny thread made me recall just such an occasion.

Years ago, a friend and I'd had a discussion about my frustration with UNIX help files. After he'd made yet another suggestion, I went home and tried it, then emailed him to complain. His response was basically "why are you telling me about your sex life?" His suggestion? Enter "man man." In my subject line, I told him I “did a man man;” In the body of the email, I told him I received useless information for my efforts. My lesson? Sometimes the comma—or lack, thereof--doesn't help.

I no longer tell anyone I did a “man man.” In fact, I just don’t do a “man man,” just to save myself from having to explain later. If I need to know anything while working in UNIX, I just may hit Google up for answers. Almost all of us are doing Google, and like one FriendFeeder said, he tried Binging someone and got a nasty rash!



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