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And here's the type of bullshit that sets my teeth on edge.

The most read story on the BBC right now is "Spelling mistakes 'cost millions' in lost online sales". How do we know? "An online entrepreneur says that poor spelling is costing the UK millions of pounds in lost revenue for internet businesses."

Oh. It's some guy's opinion. Which guy? "Charles Duncombe says..." Who he? Someone whose opinion on this matter carries some weight no doubt? "Mr Duncombe, who runs travel, mobile phones and clothing websites..." Ah. So this is the equivalent of the BBC basing a story on grabbing someone off the street and asking them for their opinion on... stuff.

Never mind. How did Duncombe arrive at his conclusion?

"He says he measured the revenue per visitor to [WEBSITE NAME REDACTED] and found that the revenue was twice as high after an error was corrected. "If you project thisacross the whole of internet retail then millions of pounds worth ofbusiness is probably being lost each week due to simple spelling mistakes," says Mr Duncombe, director of the [NAME OF GROUP REDACTED]."

I see.

So based on no knowledge about the error that was corrected or the revenue that was lost/gained, the BBC thinks it's reasonable to project this one incident onto the entire internet.

What we have here is someone doing some puff PR for their sites, baited with a irrelevant and largely imaginary hook that the BBC have gladly bitten into.
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See, Ed, this is precisely why G+ is so superior to Twitter or FB. On Twitter, you couldn't have expounded on this at length. On FB, only your 'friends' would have seen it. G+ is a fine thing!
Ed Yong
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Although, on Twitter, I would've spent a mere fraction of the time being pissed off. Win some, lose some... ;-)
 
Then we would have been vastly less entertained, Ed. Sorry, but your crossness quotient can't compete.
 
This article proves, that changing your website, even for corrections, improves your sales from that website.
And THIS is something we already know.
 
G+ is certainly a fine thing... but I still arrived to this post via twitter!
 
Thing is, he's probably right in a sense: Some sites with bad spelling are probably losing out on sales. I'm quite unlikely to buy on a site with dodgy spelling. But.....

They are only losing out on sales to other sites with better spelling, so the total spend is still the same. It's a zero sum game. Now if the sites who are losing out/winning are in the UK and what this means for the UK economy is debatable. There are probably enough good sites with good spelling in the UK, so the UK economy isn't losing anything as such.
Ed Yong
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Thing is, whether he ends up being right or not is not the issue. The issue is that a random punter can assert something, without a shred of concrete evidence to support it and, in so doing, get their website linked to from one of the world's leading news websites.
 
Wasn't disagreeing with you there, just highlighting another issue with the analysis/reporting.
 
my brother used to make money from searching for mis-spelled items on eBay, buying them at a very low price (because no other buyers) and then re-selling with correct spelling at high price.
 
Exactly right, Ed. And the biggest problem isn't that guys like this are ruining journalism for everyone; it's that so many everyones out there don't even know their journalism is being (has been?) ruined. Anyone out there want to talk about how many city editors would have kicked their asses up and down the desk for turning in a story sourced like this? Remember editors? Remember desks?
 
I think Mr Duncombe is as good at PR as the BBC are gullible - he even get's links to his e-commerce sites for goodness sake
 
I'm going to be a mediocre science writer and write short articles about coffee side effects. The template for my first sentence will be: "A study (six graduate students who didn't know that what they signed was a consent form) published in (journal that appears to be about dead languages and is published in Sanskrit) shows (no it doesn't) that coffee causes (something fun to talk about at the coffee pot).

I expect the BBC to buy them all and the HuffPo to hire someone to rewrite them. 
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