The "acceptable" modes of messaging and exchange of information are constantly evolving. A forum such as this one was unimaginable* just twenty years ago, yet today it can seem positively antiquated when compared to other platforms.

I present as an example today's the difference between anyway and anyways also a lot and a lots ?

I was tempted immediately to edit this question in several ways so that it might conform to... to what? The question as it is would be unexceptional if received in my messaging app!

Will it be wise to accept without revision questions formatted and presented as if in a messaging app? Since many new learners are much more accustomed to these platforms that to our stodgy web-based model, is accommodating them the best way to make them feel at home? Or should we instead expect learners to dispense with the near-dialect of English that constitutes, for many of them, their first experience of the language, and expect instead that they conform to a minimum standard of "proper" usage? How might we accomplish this without alienating them, or presenting ourselves as a bunch of hidebound troglodytes?

A tangent: when editing a question, I often wish it were possible to use the editing itself as a tool with which to promote progress in punctuation, spelling and grammar, but I haven't come up with a way to bring the quærent's attention to an edit in commentary without distracting from the content of the question. Do experienced hands have any tips?

*I except USENET, with which our presentation has something in common, because the majority of "regular folks" never knew of it, and still don't.

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    If you feel that by editing a post you improve its legibility and comprehensiveness, you should go ahead and edit. Not my downvote (i.e. demurrer)
    – Mari-Lou A
    Sep 29, 2016 at 6:57
  • @Mari-LouA I couldn't agree more, but that's not what this question is concerned with. Sep 29, 2016 at 7:33
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    PED - I can't figure out what this question is concerned with....
    – J.R. Mod
    Sep 29, 2016 at 8:28
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    @J.R. PED...(I like it!) is asking whether we should leave short hand text alone, 'cos that's how kids roll today. And after all, if we are an English language site, we cannot afford to rest on our laurels, or behave like the fuddy duddies of the past. So, should we respect current English orthographical trends? Or should we demand that users write in standard English? (Please correct me, if I'm wrong)
    – Mari-Lou A
    Sep 29, 2016 at 11:05
  • I've moved the comments to chat. The thread was mostly about the style and not the substance, and I think the concerns have been noted and the comments detract from the question itself at this point.
    – ColleenV
    Sep 30, 2016 at 17:56

1 Answer 1


I'm expressing my opinion about editing posts on ELL. I am aware correcting other people's posts is a thorny issue, but I'll try to explain my approach, and the rationale behind it.


Whenever a post contains solecisms that risk receiving a negative response; typos, missing capital letters, ungrammatical phrases, poor formatting, etc. if it offers something to ‘chew on’, it should be edited for clarity.


I think everyone will agree it is a strain to read a long wall of text filled with typos. Would anyone object if a user applied common sense and edited the post? Adding paragraphs, fixing typos, replacing CAPS with lower case letters (minuscule), and using correct punctuation marks not only helps the OP, it also helps readers and non native speakers alike. As long as the edit does not alter the OP's query, edits should aim to improve legibility. That type of edit should be encouraged, why should a shorter post be treated any differently?

To reiterate, an edit by a community user should, above all, be seen as an act of courtesy towards readers; and secondly, as a gesture of kindness.

Textese: Why the rush?

Textese fulfills an important communicative function on mobile phones, but ELL is not a cell phone device.

In my very humble opinion, a question written entirely in textese on an English language site is bordering on rudeness. It shows laziness, slackness, and disrespect. Furthermore, not everyone understands these abbreviations, it definitely alienates the more mature users among us — ahem, cough — and possibly not every non-native speaker will be familiar with their meanings.

Weak writing ≠ textese

guys, i have noticed that in a movie he said anyways and also have lots of time so why he didn't say a lot instead of lots ?

IMHO the above is not textese, the above is neither an example of today's orthographic trends pioneered by the millennial and Z generation; the above was clearly written by a young non native speaker.

Since the OP posted his question, it has been edited and it is more comprehensible.

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    Thank you very much for a well thought-out response. it's the kind of input I was hoping to elicit. I've never seen the term textese before, but that only demonstrates my status as a troglodyte, and I'm glad to add it to my lexicon. In regard to that dialect: One of the reasons for my post was the increasing occurrence of questions which obviously were composed on a mobile device. In many developing nations, mobile devices are much more commonly used to access forums like ours than are desktop devices. Whether we like it or not, that is the future. Sep 30, 2016 at 7:33
  • @P.E.Dant as I explained in my answer, I don't consider the citation to be pure textspeak, it perhaps shares certain characteristics, (limited use of punctuation) but it's clear the user is not a native speaker. Moreover, the user is not communicating with one person, who might be familiar with their dialect, but, possibly, with hundreds of visitors and users. A text message is not the same thing as writing a question about the English language.
    – Mari-Lou A
    Sep 30, 2016 at 7:39
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    To those who are interested in this issue: "For a technology that only really went ‘live’ in the mid-1990s, it took scholars a while to attend to texting. Since the early 2000s, however, research from a range of disciplines and a number of countries has been growing. While much of this work falls beyond the immediate interests of language scholars, it does reveal the increasing importance and application of texting in both scholarly and public contexts." nl.ijs.si/janes/wp-content/uploads/2014/09/thurlowpoff11.pdf
    – user5267
    Sep 30, 2016 at 8:02
  • You omitted I really like when people help me to get the answer thank you a lot ^_^ which is firmly in the genre. It's hard to find examples that haven't been edited. Oct 1, 2016 at 2:05
  • @P.E.Dant I omitted the "Thank you" line, because it had nothing to do with the question. ELL is a Q&A website, not a chat forum.
    – Mari-Lou A
    Oct 1, 2016 at 4:08
  • @Mari-LouA Hmm. That practice sounds strangely familiar. ^_^ Oct 1, 2016 at 4:09
  • Yes, EL&U brainwashed me well :-)
    – Mari-Lou A
    Oct 1, 2016 at 4:11
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    I think the whole point about textese over and above what has already been said is that, if you are posting a question, you want to get to the widest range of people who can answer. So write in plain English which is understood by all, not some code only known to those who use it. With all due respect to the younger amongst us, the more mature users are less likely to understand textese but more experienced in the language and hence be able to answer. Jun 16, 2023 at 11:59

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