Maybe it's just me, but it seems like people's shift keys are getting flaky. Maybe it's a manufacturing problem, but I'm afraid it's not. Why would someone go to the effort of capitalizing some words but not others? Is there a trend in humanity to self-deprecate by using lower-case "i"? Am I just a prematurely grumpy old man who had a stricter English teacher than average? The tour makes a few references like:

"It's built and run by you"

"Your reputation score goes up when others vote up your questions ..."

As you earn reputation, you'll unlock new privileges

Our goal is to have the best answers to every question, so if you see questions or answers that can be improved, you can edit them.

Seeing a sloppily-worded question immediately lowers my urge to help because if they can't hit the shift key, are they willing to learn the ins & outs of Unix? Something I saw in meta a while ago stuck with me -- these Questions and Answers may (should?) stick around for a while and be helpful. Don't you want your best foot forward?

For now, I will be scratching my grammar itch with some data.sx queries and editing. Do poorly-written questions bother anyone else?

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    For some people, every web form is just another version of Failbook. You just sloppily type in you ill-considered musings, throw in some emo{ji,ticons} or txtspeek for colour and wait for the spoon^H^H^H answer to appear.
    – jasonwryan
    Commented Apr 20, 2016 at 0:29
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    Seconding the SEET, I use that as well. Makes editing a breeze with cruft when needed.
    – slm Mod
    Commented Apr 20, 2016 at 3:44
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    – derobert
    Commented Apr 20, 2016 at 10:11
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    Ahhhh Eternal September. Guess this Q is close in both time and content to BZ's "close all" Q.
    – Jeff Schaller Mod
    Commented Apr 20, 2016 at 10:19
  • @derobert you just broke the rule #835030, shame on you!
    – Braiam
    Commented Apr 20, 2016 at 13:44
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    You edit must be at least six characters. Is there some other way this post can be improved? -> Yes / Cancel. I'm missing the "No, thanks".
    – Law29
    Commented Apr 20, 2016 at 20:19
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    all-lowercase is a perfectly valid and commonly-used geek sub-dialect of the english language. it's especially popular dialect in the unix and linux communities. i'm far more annoyed by bad grammar, poor spelling, and especially the inability to think methodically and logically when writing a question or answer (although i'm far more tolerant of bad spelling/grammar if it's obvious that english is not the poster's native language)
    – cas
    Commented Apr 22, 2016 at 0:49
  • I tend to write my posts in all-lowercase (except for acronyms etc) and then go back and capitalise things ('I', first letters of sentences, "proper nouns" etc) according to the conventional written english dialect before I hit the POST button. Sometimes i miss some things and leave them as lowercase. I don't capitalise things because I believe it is more correct (it isn't, any more than the German habit of capitalising far more nouns than English does) but because if you're trying to communicate with others, it helps to adapt how you're saying it to common expectations.
    – cas
    Commented Apr 22, 2016 at 0:57
  • @Law29 If there is really nothing else to improve, then consider whether the edits is really needed. If it is just a single word that wasn't capitalized, and it doesn't confuse the meaning. Then don't bother editing. If a small change is needed because of a typo making the entire post unclear (which could be the case when forgetting a word like "not"). Then you could consider writing an html comment explaining why you think your specific edit needs to be exempt from the 6 character requirement. I don't know whether such an edit would be approved though. That's a subject for a separate meta q.
    – kasperd
    Commented Apr 23, 2016 at 15:35
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    Not caring about language conventions seems to be one of the popular answer themes here, but if you want to communicate, you have to.
    – tripleee
    Commented Apr 26, 2016 at 10:32
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    @jasonwryan: No need to bash emoticons. The “Spock ideal” of us all being emotionally dead psychopaths, is thankfully long gone. Text is horribly lacking as a communicative medium, and should be forbidden for any two-way communication beyond short chats. Because it always ends in crass misunderstandings and then tears. At least emoticons improve the situation a little bit. … But hey, people love to be snobs, parrot memes, and feel in on it, to raise their egos, even if they haven’t ever thought about why they agree.
    – anon
    Commented May 3, 2016 at 17:30
  • Saying what nobody dares: As a non-native English but German speaker, who basically learned Engish on the net… what exactly are the errors in these examples? Because I checked my knowledge against Wikipedia’s page on capitaliztion, and it agrees with me. Also, none of the examples even uses “I”. (Also, English used to use the same rules as German, but then stopped capitalizing all nouns. Which I think is a loss of functionality.)
    – anon
    Commented May 3, 2016 at 17:47
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    @Evi1M4chine - the quotes that I list from the tour page are not examples that I'm referring to. The quotes seemed to me to be motivation to take care and pride in having a high level of quality on the site.
    – Jeff Schaller Mod
    Commented May 3, 2016 at 17:58
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    @Evi1M4chine Centuries of literature in all languages have shown that it is perfectly adequate for conveying an incredible dpeth and range of emotion. To suggest that it can only be done with emoticons is either naieve, ignorant or both.
    – jasonwryan
    Commented May 3, 2016 at 18:13
  • @jasonwryan I don't necessarily buy that logic. Also, if we go back far enough, the first glyphs were really emoji (at least in Sumeria/Egypt).
    – Sparhawk
    Commented Jan 28, 2019 at 2:30

4 Answers 4


It's the downside of success: this site is growing, and that means we're attracting more and more people who don't necessarily know what they're doing.

Seeing a sloppily-worded question lowers my urge to help, too. The less well-worded a question is, the higher the chance is that I'll simply ignore it when I'm browsing the question list. If I do decide to open a question, if it isn't clear at first glance, I'm likely to vote to close or just move on. With over 100 questions on a weekday, I can't afford to spend even 30 seconds per question — that would be an hour per day just to read the questions!

I encourage everyone to edit questions into shape. But there's a limit: some questions are just unsalvageable, and some might be salvageable but aren't worth spending much effort on.

If you answer a question, that presumes that the question is useful: please edit it, at least give it a meaningful title and appropriate tags. If you don't think a question is likely to be very useful, and it's so badly written that it needs to be deciphered rather than edited, feel free to vote to close as unclear and move on.

  • I very clearly remember the days of earning +2 rep for editing questions from the 500-rep "first posts" queue -- that's a useful incentive. This isn't very well thought out on my part, but would an initial downvote be useful in any way? I'm wondering if there'd be an easy way to get them into the low-quality-post queue? I see here reference to flags doing it, but I don't see an appropriate choice when flagging Q's.
    – Jeff Schaller Mod
    Commented Apr 20, 2016 at 1:41
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    @JeffSchaller The low quality queue is only for answers. You can flag a question as VLQ if it meets certain requirements (IIRC: no pending close vote, and not already flagged), but that sends the question into the close queue. A VLQ flag on a question acts as an extra downvote if the question does get closed. Commented Apr 20, 2016 at 1:45
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    Ahh, I see it now, though it's pretty strongly worded: "This question is unlikely to be salvageable through editing, and might need to be removed." Maybe I should lobby for a "poor grammar" queue...
    – Jeff Schaller Mod
    Commented Apr 20, 2016 at 1:48
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    @JeffSchaller This exists on SO: the triage queue (search [meta.so]). Commented Apr 20, 2016 at 1:48

I have been doing my share of i -> I changes and I feel your pain. We all make mistakes, especially if English is not the first language, but consistency in spelling is something one can expect IMO. (The other thing that greatly annoys me is having no spaces behind punctuation, or having some before punctuation (assuming reading from left to right)).

I was unpleasantly surprised last year, that the English advertisements in the Adidas store in Las Palmas de Gran Canaria wrote their slogans with lowercase i. This might have been going on longer, but I seldom see advertisements having no television—no time, have to check the U&L review queue.

Some of this is the result of the always ongoing language change, sometimes fueled by the need of adolescents to "distinguish" themselves from the previous generation. That might make evolutionary sense, but it does sometimes hurt my eyes.

  • no i think it's just laziness
    – Shelvacu
    Commented Apr 22, 2016 at 18:03
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    @shelvacu Well, that's ironic.
    – cat
    Commented Apr 23, 2016 at 13:44
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    @shelvacu Not necessarily, funnily enough I learned that "I" was supposed to be spelled with capital letters from this website. Commented Apr 25, 2016 at 12:28
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    @DisplayName See, your first language isn't even English and you have better grammar than many native English speakers.
    – cat
    Commented Apr 26, 2016 at 14:23
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    Re "spaces ... having some before punctuation": Sometimes it is not their own fault. Commented Apr 28, 2016 at 22:48

Maybe not an answer for the exact situations you're encountering, but from the little German I've learned, I know Germans capitalize nouns. So, maybe they would have a tendency to write something like "I ate some Fish at my Parents' house". Perhaps there's a pattern in the "random" words you're seeing?

From other experiences, I think that people who come from "oriental" languages (Hindi, Arabic, CJK) Also Have A Tendency To Write Every Word Capitalized. I'm not sure why, though - I don't speak any of those languages.

Meanwhile, on my early days on the Internet, I remember never typing capitals because I was a kid and kids don't always care.

Having people complain at me for my lack of capitals worked. I can even pinpoint (a little ashamed, though) the turning moment for me, when I was 16: http://www.xtremevbtalk.com/forum-questions-concerns-comments/257570-ranked-polls.html .

Even for a while later I would miss the "I"s. I'm Portuguese, and back then, I had doubts on what to capitalize in English.

In most cases (where posters are not native English speakers), I would shrug it off as translation issues. Isn't this another reason why posts can be edited by anyone?

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    I use correct grammar and punctuation in anything I write, even text messages. Always have. If I omit such trappings, I'm either in severely time-limiting position such as answering an urgent text during an important but disrelated meeting, or else I've deliberately omitted punctuation (etc.) for a specific effect. Either way, it's a conscious decision.
    – Wildcard
    Commented Apr 21, 2016 at 8:09
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    So do I, now. What I'm saying is that it hasn't been always like this (for me), and I had to be chastised about it before writing well on the Internet. Commented Apr 21, 2016 at 9:24
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    My observation From viewing Some low-Quality asian questions is That the capitalization can be Completely erratic. Generally, outside of Greek-descended alphabets (Latin, Cyrillic, etc) writing systems do not often have case (or traditionally even punctuation) so it's possible that they are just desperately guessing when to capitalize. When posting on an English-language site, not being familiar with basic English spelling conventions would seem to be a predictor for poor success anyhow.
    – tripleee
    Commented Apr 26, 2016 at 10:32
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    An a German: We’d write it as “I ate some Fish at my Parents' House”. (Actually, if I only literally translated the words and left everything else the same, It’d be “I have at my Parents Fish eaten.” or “I have Fish eaten at my Parents.”. Specifying that I ate “some” fish and that is was at their “house” would be weird and sound archaic. And even though technically you could say “Ich aß Fisch“, which is the literal translation of “I ate fish”, using it in this context would seem forced and archaic as well. We’d just use “Ich habe Fisch gegessen“ instead.)
    – anon
    Commented May 3, 2016 at 17:57

Most modern keyboards are garbage for touch typists, no matter the brand or expense. Every keyboard I've had in the last 15 years has developed problems such as sticking keys, unreliable keys, and yes even the Shift, Ctrl, and Alt modifiers failing. I'll gladly own all my own grammar, spelling, and typing errors, but I do make an effort to be correct and assume the same of others (perhaps wrongly).

  • 3
    I've had several microsoft keyboards over the last 15 years and had NONE of those problems Commented Apr 24, 2016 at 12:36
  • @michael-durrant Funny you should mention Microsoft keyboards. I'm typing on one right now. Most of the keys have gone spongy, and the left hand modifiers have all become unreliable. Sometimes when I press the key it works, but frequently it doesn't. Garbage.
    – Low Powah
    Commented Apr 24, 2016 at 19:00
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    I wonder how hard you are pounding the keys? Excessive force is the only way by which I've ever seen keyboards exhibit the behavior you describe. Alternatively, have you considered starting a business making what you would consider a non-garbage keyboard? Every problem is an opportunity. ;)
    – Wildcard
    Commented Apr 25, 2016 at 23:39
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    How you tried one with Cherry MX Red, Cherry MX Brown, or Cherry MX Blue (like Corsair K95)? Commented Apr 28, 2016 at 23:02
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    @PeterMortensen, actually, for key pounders, Cherry MX Greens are better. (You can get a CODE Keyboard with Cherry MX Greens.)
    – Wildcard
    Commented Sep 28, 2018 at 20:11
  • "Every keyboard I've had in the last 15 years has developed problems [...]" — Might I suggest investing in a nice Mechanical Keyboard? The r/MK wiki is a great resource on them.
    – ZeroKnight
    Commented Apr 30, 2019 at 8:34

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