Craigslist: Does Readability Equal Credibility?

AKA "Are You More Likely To Answer That Missed Connections Ad If The Person Can Actually Spell Basic Words?"

Robert Lane Greene writes:

"We judge each other's writing as a way of saying some other person doesn't have the kind of education we have," Greene speculated. That does not necessarily mean readers of online reviews are thinking in terms of social status, but it is something related: "It's not so much class in terms of how much money you're born with, but class defined in terms of education."


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It's like judging people on their clothes or appearance, which, for better or worse, we do all the time. Poor spelling or grammar is the equivalent of dirty, holey, or ugly clothing, or bad hair and makeup. I think we make more allowances for poor writing than we do for poor (or just questionable) sartorial choices. "I if I would of had you're choice's..." [sic] vs. blue eyeshadow and polyester pants.

Oh, heck, I'll just say it. I want a Grammar Channel, or at least a couple of shows on TLC: "What Not to Say" and the companion show: "What Not to Write." Imagine Stacy and Clinton throwing people's e-mails in the trash and giving them a week of intensive English instruction at a prestigious university. "Do I use an apostrophe or not?," our client asks. Clinton and Stacy, watching the hidden-camera footage, say, "Wasn't he paying attention to the rules? He needs a grammar intervention!"