OK, I haven’t officially used AP StyleGuard, and I do admit that there are definitely times where spell check has been valuable. But I’ve almost always been really skeptical about a computer program’s ability to grasp the nuances of the English language. (Heck, I’m very skeptical about a human’s ability to grasp the nuances of the English language.)
These programs definitely can be useful, but they’re not infallible. They make mistakes. And the problem with that isn’t that they make mistakes; it’s that people rely on them completely. They assume that the software knows what it’s suggesting. (Perhaps that explains why so many people have driven off cliffs or gotten lost because they were just doing what their GPS said to do.)
Today, I received an e-mail about StyleGuard. I clicked on the link, and I went to the download page, just to see a bit more. And that’s when I saw this:
“To order an activation code please visits AP Stylebook.” Really? “Please visits”? Are we in Lolcatz world now?
And this, my dear readers, is why I say not to rely on automated spelling and grammar checkers. Sure, they’re useful. But they’re not absolute. You still need to know a few things to make sure you don’t come across as a complete idiot. And you definitely still need to read what you’ve written. Or have someone else read it. But please, please don’t just rely on those automated options. If you do, I might be forced to cringe while reading your writing … like I just did with StyleGuard.