We’re just about a week into the launch of the contest. Here’s Maggie Walter’s report:
Show Me the Errors contest was launched at 12:01 a.m. Friday, Oct. 1. Readers were invited to participate in the contest through the Dear Reader column — published online on Sept. 24 and in print on Sept. 26. Additionally, print editions on Sept. 29 and 30 and Oct. 1 and a banner on Oct. 1 on the website’s home page invited readers to join in.
At the end of each story, readers see a submission box for the contest. The submission box also performs three functions:
- Feeds an e-mail to firstname.lastname@example.org. This includes the originating e-mail so further contact can be made if needed.
- Sends an automatic reply to the person who submitted the correction.
- Gathers the sender’s name and e-mail throughout the month in Google analytics so that monthly winners can be determined.
In addition, there is a “what’s this?” link that includes an explanation of Show Me the Errors.
The automatic response states:
Thanks for helping the editors at the Missourian in their efforts to keep the copy as error-free as possible. Your points for the Show Me the Errors contest will be automatically tabulated. An editor will contact you if additional information is needed.
There was an immediate response from various writers, notably Rod Gelatt, about perceived grammatical errors in the column. Other readers also questioned particular word usages and punctuation.
Gelatt’s comment sparked a firestorm of comments in the world of editing and language blogs, in particular John McIntyre’s “You Don’t Say” blog and Mark Liberman’s “Language Log” weblog. As a result of an e-mail exchange with Dean Mills, dean of the Missouri School of Journalism, the contest’s name was changed to Show Me the Errors.
Online readers jumped on the bandwagon to point out errors and needed corrections. As of Oct. 6, there have been about 30 submissions, apparently all valid. Kate McIntyre is leading the pack.
A couple of misdirected comments have shown up in the contest submissions. News desk editors have been directed to contact the writer and ask them to resubmit their comments in the correct place. We’ll be monitoring these incidents to see if they continue and decide if we need to redesign the submission boxes to clarify the situation.