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How to correct someone on the web

There is nothing more irksome than seeing wrong information on the web. And there is a LOT of it! So if you would like to make a correction, it's only human nature. If you do it right, you have made a tiny bit of the web a little bit better. If you do it wrong, you are an idiot. Sorry.

And I'm not talking about saying to someone who has posted something, "that sucks!", I am talking about making a factual correction. If, for example, you were there when George Washington became the first president (just how old are you, anyway?), then you know when it was. And if you would like to make a correction, this is how you do it:

• Don't correct anonymously. If you don't want anyone to know who you are, don't stand up and speak up at a town meeting, either. Get a Google+ profile, with your name, picture, and who you are. If you were at George Washington's inauguration, you are probably a pretty interesting person. If you are hiding in the shadows, then please feel free to do so, but be quiet. No one wants to hear from you.

• Use the courtesy you already know. If someone has gone to the trouble of writing about George Washington, show a little appreciation. You know, say something like "great post". Don't just post a correction, that's as rude as walking up to someone and saying something nasty. If you know how to talk to people "in real life" (as if the web isn't real life!), you already know how to talk to people on the web.

• Be specific in your correction, and tell why you believe that your information is correct. You can mention that George Washington signed your autograph book on that day, for example. This is called "documentation". Yes, it's a lot of trouble, but if you really care about a correction, you will do it. Otherwise, you are just making noise.

Comments and corrections on this blog are welcomed. I'm only human, and I often write these before my morning coffee has kicked in. If I have misspelled "Washington", please let me know. I've heard some people pronounce it with an r.

Now go make the web a little bit better!