If You Want to Be Taken Seriously
It's important to write well, especially when you're trying to prove a point or are discussing anything technical.
Let's say that you're trying to get your point across on a forum. Intelligent people will judge your intelligence by the way you write. If you make simple mistakes in the way you write, they will be able to dismiss your comments as being from someone who is uneducated. A few examples...
Their, They're, There:
Their is a personal pronoun. It's used to show possession (it's their dog). They're is a contraction. It's used instead of they are. There is used to show where something is. It's over there.
To, Two, Too:
To is a preposition (he's going to work). Two is obviously a quantity. Too is used when you want to say that there are too many people in the car. Writing - there are to many people in the car can be a typo but if you make the 'typo' too many times, people will start to believe that you don't know the proper use/spelling of too.
A lot of people use the word damn. It's generally only correct when you hear something extraordinary and you say DAMN! or when something gets on your last nerve and you say damn it. Too many people use it like this... My damn car won't start. That should be damned. My damned car won't start. The term damn comes from damnation. A person is damned to hell (an evil person who will spend eternity in hell). I don't know why people get this wrong. They wouldn't write my darn car won't start. They would write my darned car won't start.
I Could Care Less:
This is one of the most misused statements. The actual statement is I couldn't care less. If someone tells you that they think you're acting like an idiot and you tell them that you could care less, it means that you are actually at least a bit concerned about what they said. If you say that you couldn't care less, you're saying that you are not, at all, concerned about what they said.
Appropriate Level of Writing:
If you are corresponding with someone, you should attempt to write at or above the level at which they're writing. For example, if you're discussing skateboarding or cheats for a video game, it may be acceptable to write using letters for words (u for you, r for are...) but when corresponding with someone about a topic that requires a bit of education or intelligence, you should write properly. For example, if you were filling out a job application, do you think the employer would be more likely to hire someone who uses letters or truncated words in place of the complete words? They would figure that someone who writes like that is either too lazy to write properly or is uneducated. Either way, it's unlikely that you'd get the job unless it was a job that no one else wanted. If you're corresponding with someone who is using proper grammar, punctuation and sentence structure, you should do your best to do the same.
This is a bit of a pet peeve of mine because I reply to thousands of emails and forum questions regarding amplifier repair and electronics. This requires quite a bit of time, on my part, to answer the questions accurately and in a way that they can understand. If they can't take the time to write properly to help me to understand what they're saying, why should I help them? It got so bad that I had to insert a page for them to read if they were going to email me. If they still decided to use truncated words, no punctuation and no capitalization, they were told that they should not expect me to reply. THIS is the page.
There are plenty of intelligent people who cannot spell very well. There is no excuse for writing with poor spelling. Most all text editors have spell-checking features. Most internet browsers have built-in spell checkers. If they're not built in, they're available as a free add-on. When a word is misspelled, it's highlighted in some way. Often, you can simply right-click the word and select the properly spelled version.
Use Proper Punctuation:
Take the time to use proper punctuation and capitalization. If you're an intelligent, well educated person, this should be VERY easy for you to do.
If you've ever felt insulted by someone calling you ignorant, you probably should not have been. Being ignorant simply means that you don't know something. Not knowing isn't necessarily bad unless you're supposed to be knowledgeable about the subject. Everyone is ignorant of something because no one can know everything. However, if you try to act as if you know something when you clearly don't and someone calls you on it, feel free to feel ashamed. I'm impressed with those who ask intelligent, thoughtful questions. I have no time for those who act as if they know something they don't. It's not a big deal when you're in a forum where everyone is an idiot but when you're having a conversation with an intelligent, well educated person and you try to make it seem as if you know more than you do, I can assure you that they will consider you an idiot.
Proofread Your Messages Before Sending Them:
Proofread the messages you send. Spell-checkers will not catch misspelled words like of, when you mean off. Wait a few minutes between the time that you type out the message and the time you actually send it. Many times, when proofreading something that you've just written (no wait time), you read it as you intended to type it, not as it's actually typed. This can make you miss simple mistakes.
Stop Forwarding Email Messages:
Many people are annoyed by those who constantly forward unsolicited emails. It's made even worse when the message is for some bogus story. When you receive an email that you want to forward, copy and paste a string of text from the story into a search engine. Add the terms Snopes, scam, myth and/or urban legend. This will generally return several relevant pages where you can determine if the story is real or not.