Category Archives: lit

Trolling for good grammar part 1

 A leisurely stroll with trolls

Trolling for blue fish, a1866 lithograph by Currier and Ives

THE heritage media in Australia is hunting for trolls after a celebrity was hospitalised with a breakdown following Twitter exchanges.
As it turns out, the celeb was not entirely blameless in the internet banter , but, as she admitted, she met more than her match.

Never argue with an idiot. They will bring you down to their own level and, once there, beat you with experience.


I am not much interested in the latest attempt by the heritage media to use print to troll internet discourse.  But I was taken with the notion of finding a little more about the on-line community’s assessment of trolling.
I found this excellent presentation by Californian web developer Nicole Sullivan who is also a gardener and poor car parker. I too am a gardener and poor parker. While I am not entirely sure what  web development is, I am pretty certain it is a cool thing for people, other than myself, to do.
Finding the Sullivan presentation required incredible discipline on my part as it was on the second page of a “trolls” Google. It was not even the top item on page 2, but I found it. (Alright it was #2. but that is not #1)
In response to my superhuman feat, I am asking you to play the presentation all the way through
Have you played it all the way through? You sure? You know I can wait you out until you do. You already know about my boundless discipline.
I have to play it again, anyway , as I need to quote  the bit I am interested in discussing.
Let’s watch it again together, shall we?
The advice in the vid is solid and concisely presented.  Alright, but the piece I want to talk about is where Ms Sullivan trolls “the grammar nazi” and I am sure she is talking about me.
“People think grammar is very, very, very important. I don’t understand them,” she said, looking right at me, through my computer screen.
Let me say, first up, one “very” in a sentence is usually one too many – ha! ha! gratuitous trolling.
No, what I really wish to say, is Ms Sullivan would not think half-assed web development was good enough. So it is with writing. “Mean what you say and say what you mean” applies to personal morality, refusing to troll and writing.
Sloppy writing creates confusion, reduces elegance and anchors the imagination, hampering glorious flight.
These are not just academic or aesthetic considerations. They go to the heart of whether the self-publishing revolution will liberate or debase literature. Heritage book publishers will tell you it is the latter. Conscientious self-publishers with respect for good grammar are assisting in making it the former.
Writers and readers need only to remember their childhood to know lots of good treats are in Grammar’s house.
                           Finally let’s enjoy an anti-trolling classic

Bernie Dowling. September 3, 2012

Available at AMAZON