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Epic Fail

 
 
jespah
 
Reply Mon 29 Aug, 2011 08:32 am
This is an email I receive about jobs. And, yes, these are companies that tell job seekers such as myself to carefully proofread all submissions. See if you can spot the epic fail in this email.
http://i147.photobucket.com/albums/r299/jespah301/EpicFail.png
 
DrewDad
 
  3  
Reply Mon 29 Aug, 2011 08:37 am
@jespah,
Disrigard the read errow. Nothing two sea hear.
0 Replies
 
ossobuco
 
  1  
Reply Mon 29 Aug, 2011 09:14 am
I admire competent proofreaders.

Two examples of proofing fails -

1) me, and my ex husband: I would read his plays and scripts, on his request. I read them for the storyline, for how he was working it out, for the dialogue, and over and over for typos or misspells (less often misspells). Usually he didn't have grammar mess ups and while he would use colloquial/appropriate language, it sounded/read right in tone, etc. Anyway, I read them over and over. I virtually always found another typo. He of course read them over and over while he was writing. It was always a surprise that we'd catch a new - but really old, looked at before - typo. Not just after one reading, but perhaps ten.

2) me, and my business partner: we had a tremendous amount of experience writing construction and planting specifications for plans, and lots of contracts, and I don't remember finding mess ups later on review of any of that. We also sent out, for the gallery, as professional looking postcards as we could muster to advertise the next show. We improved over the years re what looked best with the amount of information and font size for each line, but none of those cards had errors. So, one sunny day, we decided to send out a relatively large and expensive design business postcard. This turned out to be just about the best looking such postcard I think I'd ever seen, with a vibrant landscape photo of a past project, and lots of relevant information. Except... except... for the flub up. We spelled Los Angeles wrong. 500 cards with Los Angles or Los Aneles, I forget which. Talk about mortifying. Anyway, we had each proofed that at least four times.

My theory on all this is that sometimes my eye/brain scans a word as I expect to see it, so that when I historically know how to spell it correctly, my brain will once in a while not catch a goof, flying right on by.
0 Replies
 
Sturgis
 
  2  
Reply Mon 29 Aug, 2011 09:43 am
@jespah,
That reminds me of the letter my sister received years ago, from one of the several private high schools in her area, when she was searching a spot for her daughter. The school touted its wonderful academic standards and excellence, gave itself high marks all around. There were however 2 errors within their letter and another in the letterhead. My niece didn't go to that school, it wasn't even given consideration.

My sister isn't a proofreader, she just has a sharp eye for errors, I used to have her scan my papers before I'd submit them, many a time I was rescued from sure humiliation.
0 Replies
 
Setanta
 
  2  
Reply Mon 29 Aug, 2011 09:52 am
Proof reading is difficult, as anyone who has done a lot of it will know. I'm a pretty good technical writer, and in one of my jobs, i wrote text for flyers and brochures. You can write a text, pass it around to all the secretaries in the office, make the corrections . . . and still miss errors. We used to pass the text around for proofreading, and wait over night, then pass it around again. We always found one, or two, or three errors the next day.

Worse still is not managing your mailing list. It's bad enough to pat yourself on the back while making such errors, but worse still to solicit custom or donations, and do it more than once. In one job, i spent literally months eliminsating duplications from their mailing list, built up over decades. I set up search routines for "Street, St.," "Avenue, Ave., Av." etc., and then we (i had two student workers) would put them in alphabetical order and scan for duplications. We also scanned the donor lists by name, both because misspellings would produce more than one entry for the same family, and there would be duplications from the given names being different, so that one family might receive several letters. I had avised this earlier, but i didn't get the go-ahead until the Director received a letter from a long-time donor who said she was fed up, and would not donate again. Enclosed in her letter were nine identical solicitation letters, varying only by the spelling of the name and the street address. The post office is pretty good at identifying mispelled addresses, so the people on your solicitation lists are very likely to receive every duplication caused by your carelessness.
jespah
 
  1  
Reply Mon 29 Aug, 2011 10:19 am
@Setanta,
Ah, databases.

Definitely something to be said for providing a drop-down option for entering the second half of an address (e. g. the Street, Road, Avenue part). At least that would have cut that down although not eliminated the problem entirely. I had to fight a good ten years ago to have a state drop-down placed into an address field. People were not only misspelling Massachusetts and Pennsylvania, they were also using several different abbreviations for same.

And I agree - sometimes you just don't see it when it's your own work. I have found stupid errors like your for you're in my writing all the time. I know better; it's just that it's missed, and of course spellcheck does not pick it up because the error word is correctly spelled.

I suspect that what happened here was either that the program being used did not have a spell checker (e. g. perhaps the copy was being added directly within an HTML editor or flash editor) or someone, in an effort to be helpful, added relavant to the dictionary.
DrewDad
 
  2  
Reply Mon 29 Aug, 2011 10:31 am
@jespah,
Chances are it was some image editing software, and it either doesn't spell check or it creates so many false positives that the person using it doesn't even pay attention to the messages any more.
0 Replies
 
Setanta
 
  1  
Reply Mon 29 Aug, 2011 10:47 am
@jespah,
Against the wails and gnashing of teeth from the admin office, i obtained permission to redo the entire name/address database so that every word was a separate field in the db. That was when i got the services of the student workers, who were now actually doing useful work. Previously they had been folding fliers and stuffing envelopes, something which volunteers could serve (most of them little old ladies for whom, i suspect, this was their best opportunity to get out of the house). Just in re-doing the data base to separate everything into individual fields, we dropped the address list from more than 85,000 entries to 73,000.

When the Director came to me with the notorious letter, i was able to tell him that we had already eliminated almost 12,000 duplications. It was then that he gave exclusive use of the student workers' time. If you wanted to employ one of the student workers, you had to ask me, and i required that you justify the use of their time.

Managing a data base is not something where the tech geeks can really help you, other than to assure that you know how to use a db. Our first step was to make an alphabetic listing of all street type fields. So, if one of the fields read "Av.e" rather than "Ave.," it popped right up. You could then give it a global command to convert all entries reading "Av.e" to "Ave." Then i gave the db a global command to delete all periods in the street type field (it took me one go through with "Ave." to realize the utility of that). We then took on "street" and it's abbreviations, "circle" and it's abbreviations, etc.

But you couldn't make field entries in the master db unique. So, we then exported all the address field information to a "dump" db (one i would erase when it was no longer needed) in which the field information ("number," "street," "street type," "city" and "zip coce") would be combined in a single field, which had to be unique. Then the work gets tedious. Having alphabetized that list, we then identified apartment buildings and condos using the Haines and the Criss-Cross guides, and either added the correct apartment number if we knew it, or arbitrarily assigned one in a special field which was not exported to the printing list for addresses. (So, if you lived in Apartment 15 of the building, that would get exported to the printing list--if we didn't know your apartment or condo number, that would go in a special number field which did not get exported to the printing list.)

You also obviously can't make the name fields unique, so, once again, we exported the name fields to a new dump db, where they were combined with the address list, and required those fields to be unique--so more than one Jespah Hamster would get eliminated after the address list had been cleaned up. Then the tedious work would begin, where we would look for things like Jespah Hamtser, or Jepsah Hamster, etc. There were always two student wokers in the office with me, and sometimes three. We used eight IBM PC XTs, and the master lists were on my (then newest and most powerful) IBM PC AT. It took us just over five months to overhaul the address list, and we reduced it from just over 85,000 entries to just under 54,000 entries.

The Director's secretary and her "extra help" student workers (kind of a cross between a temp employee and a student worker) were really pissed when they were required to submit their work to the master db, but it kept us from recreating the duplications. They really hated it that they would get beeped at by the the computer if they typed "Ave." (because of the period), but it was just one more step in preventing duplications.

Shortly thereafter i transferred to the family shelter--and man was i ever glad to get out of that office. I never want to run a data base again in my life.
0 Replies
 
jespah
 
  1  
Reply Mon 29 Aug, 2011 02:21 pm
Data cleanup is a massive pain but it's definitely got to be done. At a large financial services company that shall remain nameless, 10 years ago they were testing a web protocol whereby prospects would type in their addresses. And the programmer had it arranged so that all states would be abbreviated with their first two letters.

Then I pointed out to the TPTB that that would mean a smooshing together of Maine, Maryland and Massachusetts. Ewps.

This was also the database with five genders. Two are obvious, plus we needed one extra for unknown/didn't say/investor is deceased/institutional investor. That database had N, U and null. First, I had to go to the DBA to get him to make it so that that field would not permit a null. Then got the programmer to add a drop down with F, M and N. Then went through to manually eliminate the (fortunately very small) list of U's.

Five genders. It's a fun story to tell during job interviews.
jespah
 
  1  
Reply Tue 30 Aug, 2011 05:40 am
@jespah,
Another one this morning. Yeah, you people need a content management specialist. Desperately. And you might wanna actually pay that person, too, and hope that they know what an apostrophe is, and where to use one. This time, there's no excuse that it was image-editing software. This is a job description, most likely created in a word processing program, at least to start:
http://i147.photobucket.com/albums/r299/jespah301/epicfail2.png

Those top-tier VCs and angles (sic) might want to rethink their funding plans....
DrewDad
 
  2  
Reply Tue 30 Aug, 2011 07:32 am
@jespah,
They do seem a bit obtuse.

Perhaps they'll find acute intern.
jespah
 
  1  
Reply Tue 30 Aug, 2011 01:47 pm
@DrewDad,
Ba dum bump!
Roberta
 
  2  
Reply Tue 30 Aug, 2011 04:57 pm
@jespah,
So I'm on my way to the English Speaking Union. I look out the window of my cab and see a sign on the side of a truck. The company its delivering for sells appliances, including refridgerators. Thud.
roger
 
  2  
Reply Tue 30 Aug, 2011 05:05 pm
@Roberta,
You Easterners have a union for everything, don't you?
edgarblythe
 
  3  
Reply Tue 30 Aug, 2011 05:11 pm
I once worked for some persons who were interested in promoting the then new Masonite siding. Their first language was Spanish and they were aware of their shortcomings with English. As they worded their sign, they consulted a dictionary for most of the spelling. The end result: The siding had no 'nut' holes, resisted 'mild dew,' and so forth. I no longer recall the whole of it. Since we were in predominantly Spanish speaking territory, I figured it did not make a lot of difference.
0 Replies
 
Pemerson
 
  3  
Reply Tue 30 Aug, 2011 05:20 pm
As a newspaper journalist, working for a weekly, small town paper, in the classifieds you always see Public Notices in big bold lettering. One week it said, "Pubic Notices." Sometimes you can look at these things and not even see the error.
0 Replies
 
Roberta
 
  2  
Reply Tue 30 Aug, 2011 11:21 pm
@roger,
Never thought of unions as an especially Eastern thing.

I used to do voluteer work for this union. I'm resuming. Tutoring ESL.
jespah
 
  1  
Reply Wed 31 Aug, 2011 06:10 am
@Roberta,
I know I've mentioned this before, but here goes.

Over 20 years ago, I was walking in Jamaica, NY (going to the courthouse) and saw a sign outside a diner for the day's specials. Undoubtedly it was supposed to be a really high class special that day: Chicken Gordon Blew.
0 Replies
 
OmSigDAVID
 
  1  
Reply Wed 31 Aug, 2011 06:47 am
@jespah,
jespah wrote:
This is an email I receive about jobs. And, yes, these are companies that tell job seekers such as myself to carefully proofread all submissions.
I take it that the proofreader did not know better.





David
0 Replies
 
PUNKEY
 
  1  
Reply Wed 31 Aug, 2011 06:55 am
When we wrote my husband's obituary, over 4 people proofed it afterwards.

Thank god the newspaper caught "bother of Cindy . . "

For strictly spelling, I understand the best way to catch errors is to read the material backwards.

(I saw a "grage sale" sign the other day. But I doubt if that was on purpose)
 

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