Web punctuation

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One of the odd things for a European English speaker working with an American company is the the subtleties in the linguistic differences. Apparent from the Dr Seuss-like spellings which are painfully apparent when you look at a typical page of text, there is also the punctuation. Sentences are laid out and joined together in a different manner often the ‘,’ is followed by an ‘and’ giving the language a completely different (and to my European viewpoint) disconcerting rhythm that is not apparent when you listen to Americans speak.

I had a similarly disconcerting experience the other day when I was writing a review on Amazon. When I first started bookmarking websites I used the first and second iteration of Yahoo!’s MyWeb service. It was a bit difficult to get into the habit, but given that I was tasked with launching it across the whole of Europe, I needed to eat the dog food. (I still think it would have been cool to launch it under its project name of Spectre though).

One of the key things about MyWeb was tagging or putting labels in that described a link. These labels were separated with a comma, so this blog may look like: pr, london, online, digital, marketing, stuff, social media, etc. However a while back I moved to delicious. With this move came a new punctuation for tags, spaces instead of tags, so the example tags I listed before now look like: pr london online digital marketing stuff socialmedia etc.

I now have been using delicious, flickr and similar services for so long that I find it weird when submitting Amazon reviews and tagging tracks on my last.fm playlist require me to revert to comma-separated tags.

Jason Goldberg and the team at socialmedian have learned this lesson and have cottoned on that Twitter provides a standard worth co-opting for their new messaging functionality since their early adopter audience already ‘speak’ Twitter fluently.

From: Jason Goldberg <jason@socialmedian.com>
Date: 22 September 2008 13:32:36 BST
To: gedcarroll@mac.com
Subject: Replize (& Flickr)

We launched an exciting new feature set on socialmedian today, “Replize.”

Replize enables sociamedian users to easily interact with each other using @username short codes.  This takes what people are already doing on services like Twitter (using @username replies) and extends and enhances the functionality.

Here’s how it works.

To send a replize to any user on socialmedian, all a user needs to do is include @username for any username(s) anywhere in the comments field.  If you click the “reply” link next to a comment we’ll pre-populate the other person’s @username.  You can include several people in a replize, e.g. @jasongoldberg @louisgray @nishith.  The replize will be sent to all.
We then highlight the replize to those users in their homepage News Feed.  Users can also be notified by email whenever they have a replize.
We’ve also added a “Replize” tab to the homepage so that users can easily view all their replize in one place, and thus quickly see all the stories they have been included in discussions on

Later this week we’ll enable auto-complete functionality for any @username you are following or who is following you.  We’ll also then enable people to also send their replize as tweets.

We also today enabled socialmedian users to connect their Flickr to socialmedian.  This is particularly handy for mobile photo uploads as Flickr has great apps for blackberry and iphone, enabling socialmedian users to now instantly upload any photo on the go to socialmedian.  To connect your Flickr to socialmedian, go to Add Something > Site > Flickr on socialmedian.  You can choose to add all of your Flickr photos and favorites, or only those matching certain tags (keywords).

As always, please pass along feedback and suggestions.



They say that one of the keys to selling is to mirror the prospects mannerism and language, it looks like web services have learnt this lesson too.