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Aug 6, 2006 09:59 PM

What is so offensive...

...about politely pointing out that a poster has misspelled the name of a restaurant?

I just replied to a post on the Quebec board, thanking the poster for his report on his visit and noting that he had misspelled (repeatedly, including in the title, though I didn't mention it) the name of one of the restaurants. He had written it as two words ("Le Meac") whereas it is actually spelled as one (Leméac). I also provided a sentence's worth of background on the name by way of illustrating that the *le* is not the masculine definite article as the poster obvioiusly assumed.

My reply was deleted within minutes of posting.

I'm not a pedant -- someone who spells as poorly as I do has no right to be -- and I'd never hit on someone for misspelling common words. But a gentle correction struck me as approriate in this case for three reasons: First, we're talking about a name here. Second, these garblings of foreign words have a way of propagating themselves (already others have begun spelling the restaurant's name LeMeac; how long before they, too, introduce a space?). And, third, this particular misspelling would make a post about "Le Meac" invisible to someone who's doing a search on the right name. (Yes, other posters have spelled the name correctly in their replies so the search engine will pick up this particular thread. But, hey, I'm inquiring about the principle.)

I know moderators' time is far too valuable for them to bother explaining their deletions to us peons, who are just supposed to shrug off the loss of the valuable time we invested in penning a well-intentioned reply. But in this case, the deletion of a polite, informative post that didn't countervene any of the published Etiquette guidelines and was intended to make the forum more useful for future users smacks of political correctness and suggests someone's delete button has a hair trigger. And, this public forum aside, there's no way to vent or appeal. And since Chowhound doesn't have a personal message or e-mail system, there's no way to contact the OP offline to suggest he edit the post. And so the error stands.

Is the proper spelling of restaurant names so unimportant to the powers that be? Is it a question of degree? In doing some research to reply to another post, I stumbled across a post where someone had spelled Slovenia, a Montreal butcher cum sandwicherie, Scandinavia. Would a reply pointing out that mistake also be deleted? Just asking for some guidance here.

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  1. Useful spelling corrections can be pretty hard to distinguish from snarky spelling flames - and we strive to be accommodating to people of all levels of spelling skill, so those are deleted. Generally, if a post is all about spelling, and nothing about chow, it'll be removed.

    6 Replies
    1. re: The Chowhound Team

      Thanks for the reply but it doesn't do much to help me avoid the frustration of future deletions nor does it address several of the points I raised.

      And was it really so hard to distinguish my deleted reply from a snarky spelling flame? As I recall (I didn't save a copy), it went something like this: "Thanks for posting your report. Please note that the name of the Outremont bistro you mention is spelled as one word (Leméac), not two (Le Meac). Actually, it's a proper noun, the name of a former publisher and bookstore located nearby."

      And would you mind explaining how the name of a dining establishment is not chow related?

      1. re: carswell

        Another reason why certain corrections ought to be allowed: in the Montreal phone directory, Restaurant Le Meac would be listed in a different place -- several pages away, in fact -- from Restaurant Leméac. Someone looking for Le Meac would probably not stumble across Leméac.

        Also, if a poster gets an address or phone number wrong, is providing the correct one also a snarky flame?

        1. re: carswell

          Spelling corrections that affect the usefulness of the search feature/data on the site are important. It used to be that you could put the corrected name into the topic line when replying to a thread to render the thread searchable under the correct name - now we cant do that. The only alternative now is a post like Carswell's. Since a lot of us are sloppy typists or uncertain about non-English spellings we, both as individuals and site participants should welcome polite corrections of this sort.

          1. re: carswell

            That's a *very* good point! Maybe a bit of artifice would skirt the issue: "I couldn't find __ ______ in my phone book. Did you mean __________?" wouldn't trigger a mod response like "You misspelled __ _________. It's __________" does.

            Same for wrongly input phone #s & addies. "My phone book says '______'. Check yours and see if there's a change." perhaps. Point made. No feathers ruffled.

            1. re: rainey

              So disingenuousness should be our policy?

        2. The original comment has been removed
          1. There's no need to go on about the misspelling to deal with the search issue. Just spell it correctly in your reply.

            11 Replies
            1. re: Robert Lauriston

              >>Just spell it correctly in your reply.<<

              My reply was deleted in this case. That's kind of the point of this whole discussion.

              And there are instances (this was one) where the only legit reply I could conceivably make to a post would be to correct a misspelled name. Are you suggesting people start manufacturing replies that disguise their real reason for posting just to ensure the name gets spelled correctly somewhere in the thread?

              1. re: carswell

                When I have nothing to add, I just post something minimal like "For the benefit of the search engine, it's spelled Leméac."

                1. re: Robert Lauriston

                  I dare say that too would have been deleted. Hard to tell you're not being a snarky spelling flamer, you know? ;o)

                  1. re: carswell

                    I post spelling corrections all the time and they're not deleted. That's why I'm presuming to offer advice.

                    1. re: carswell

                      I might have posted something along the lines of this:

                      Thanks for sharing your experience with us. Here's more info on Leméac, for those of you who are curious:

                      1045 rue Laurier
                      Corner of rue Durocher, Outer Districts


                      1. re: carswell

                        "Corner of rue Durocher, Outer Districts"

                        I'm curious to know where this came from.

                        "Outer Districts" sounds sort of like Outremont (a more-or-less central Montreal borough, in which the address in question is located) certainly isn't common usage.

                        1. re: carswell

                          Reply to carswell (sorry it's in the wrong spot but we seem to have hit the software's limitations on nesting):

                          I just googled on Montreal and the name of the restaurant and picked the first link that seemed to have an address in it to cut and paste into my post. This is just an example of how I would have handled the situation, but I'm not that familiar with Montreal except to say that it's a lovely, chowish city. I'm assuming you're describing a situation where you know the restaurant and area enough to provide detail that's actually accurate. Mine was illustrative only.


                          1. re: carswell

                            Thanks for the answer re "Outer Districts" (though I'm not carswell). I was just curious and you've satisfied my curiosity.

                            As to the larger question, I think it is important to get the names of businesses right; I don't see anything wrong with pointing out such errors in a polite manner.

                            As many people are probably aware, this is an especially common problem on the Quebec board, since most of our establishments have non-English names. Not that other places in North America and elsewhere don't have such establishments too, but almost *all* of ours fit that description.

                            Simply providing the correct spelling in replies, without mentioning that there was an error in the preceding post, is not a solution IMO. It provides no means for the average reader to know which spelling is right, and the original poster or uninitiated readers may not even notice the nuance. I'm afraid this is likely in many cases even with your (Dairy Queen) reasoned approach.

                            For example, we often see people talk about a famous restaurant that is not called, as commonly believed, "Au Pied du Cochon". Those who know better tend to use the correct name in replies, without further commentary, and the incorrect version is still probably more common than the correct one. Simply putting in the correct name and a cut-and-paste Canada 411 entry will not help everyone spot the mistake.

                            Sooner or later, there will have to be a post explaining the difference between "du" and "de", but those who have been around a while will post fearing the moderator's delete button. A newbie who ventures to make such a post may have a rather shocking welcome when their well-intentioned contribution vanishes without a trace.

                            1. re: carswell

                              Forgive Mr_F! I can't believe I made that mistake. (Oh, the irony of such a mistake in a thread about how to gently correct the mistakes of others!)

                              While I agree with you that it doesn't hurt to point out that the spelling is wrong in someone's post so people know which is the correct one, it also helps to add additional information about the restaurant, including an address or a link to a website so that you're adding additional information to the chow knowledge pool. Even if you just spell the name of the restaurant in your own reply, you're helping to solve the search engine problem.

                              There was a discussion about about snarkiness and posts that were "just about spelling" being deleted, so my response was really about how to get around those issues. So, you could still go with my approach, and even add, "Here is more info restaurant X, including proper spelling, for those of you who have more interest" if you really feel you need to make the spelling point.


                              1. re: carswell

                                [in reply to The Dairy Queen]

                                Your point is well taken, but (without presuming to speak for carswell) the issue in this case appears to be that the correction was made in response to a trip report, not a request for information. There was no real need to offer something more substantive.

                                Personally, I don't see any solid reason why the only choices should be a) let it slide or b) concoct an unnecessarily substantive post in order to provide a platform for a correction.

                                1. re: carswell

                                  Mr_F, I hear you. The situation is that chowhound likes to keep the discussion tightly focused on the chow. So, if your post is perceived as not being chowish enough as being excessively snarky, it's likely to be deleted. It's unclear if correcting a spelling error is un-chowish or snarky, but if you strive to keep your tone neutral and provide additional data about the restaurant that contributes to the body of chow knowledge, it's more likely to be retained, in my opinion. The less it looks like "chat" and the more it looks like substance, the better.


                          2. For what it's worth, a restaurants name/brand is all important when it comes to word of mouth. Isn't that (at least partly) what all this is about? If I were a restaurant owner, I certainly would prefer to see the correct name of my restaurant on boards such as this.

                            1. Misspelling bothers me too and your points are well-taken, but it seems to bother the misspellers a lot more to be corrected. I just let it go. btw there was one typo in your original post.