What makes you stop reading a story?

#1

Whenever I read blog posts, tutorials or guides about software development, there are certain things that will usually make me stop reading immediately. For example, if there are misspellings, in particular, misspellings of development related words or content, I just can’t keep reading. In my mind, I just think, “If the writer didn’t care enough to spell check before publishing, then did they really care about the code snippets? How can I be sure any of this information is accurate anymore?”

I’m curious to know, are there any “deal breakers” like this for you? I realize that it might not be the same for everyone. Misspellings might not be quite as important to other readers. Maybe for you, it’s a .jpeg image of code instead of a github code snippet. Or maybe it’s when someone writes ‘javascript’ instead of ‘JavaScript’. Whatever your '“deal breakers” are, I would love to know!

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#2

Excellent question! I’m curious to hear the answers, as a writer, but for now I’ll give you my 2 cents as a reader:

If someone can’t write well, that makes me stop dead in my tracks, every time. This happens even if I desperately need the information within, because if I can’t trust you to communicate clearly, I can’t trust what you’re telling me is correct.

It’s not just spelling errors for me, it’s grammar errors and other indicators that tell me the author doesn’t have command of the language. Whichever language you write in, you should own it. You should know it in and out, left and right. You should be able to move people to tears with your poignant posts, or have them rolling in the aisles with laughter. You don’t have to be Kurt Vonnegut or anything, but you should be able to keep my attention. Command the language.

I’m reminded of one of my favorite similes, one that applies to programming as well as writing: in order to play a musical instrument, you have to know the fundamentals. You have to be able to play the basic scales and chords with your eyes closed, in order to be able to pull off more complex pieces with any skill. Like a musical instrument, you have to know your language like the back of your hand so you can build on the fundamentals.

If the writer can’t do this, if they don’t seem to have a grasp on the language, I lose interest. If someone makes basic spelling and grammar mistakes, I question the quality of the information as well.

Hopefully that answers your question (and I hope it didn’t come off as too pretentious :stuck_out_tongue:).

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#3

I’m exactly the same way! But you said it much better than I would have! There have been times when I have searched for an answer, and found a blog post that provides the needed information. But if I find grammatical or spelling errors while reading, even if the content is good, I’ll exit out, and find another post that answers my question. For me, I feel like it’s like biting into an apple that has a rotten spot. Like, sure, the rest of the apple might be okay…but I just can’t really do it at that point.

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#4

Thanks! :smiley: Your apple metaphor is spot-on.

Another turn-off is when people use anti-patterns or outdated concepts in their code samples. If someone designs their code around callbacks in Javascript, for example, I’m much more likely to bounce and find another article.

#5

I don’t get too worked up about the proper case, but it certainly can be distracting to break the norm. i go all lower case sometimes. it can be a good way to capture tone.

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#6

I dislike when I see too much self advertisting or advertising of a product. It’s ok to plug something organically, but when the writer makes it blatantly obvious, I tune out. It undermines the credibility.

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#7

When an article’s title is a statement, but has a question mark, I won’t even open it.

Real examples from Hacker Noon:

How to explain Lightning Network to your non-technical friends?
Flutter + Redux — How to make Shopping List App?
How to tell a story in the blockchain world?
How to use JavaScript libraries in Angular 2+ apps?

If your title is wrong, then I assume the article itself is going to give me a headache.

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#8

Great point dharwin! I went back and found the articles you mentioned, and changed the titles, removing the question mark. I’m sure there are other readers who feel the same way, so thanks for catching this! We’re always open to suggestions!

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#9

Thanks! I didn’t actually expect anything to happen, so this is really nice news :slight_smile: