At my previous engagement, a large number of staff spoke English as a second or third language, and Grammarly was prevalent. Even as a native English speaker, they wanted me to use it as a sort of proof reader. I'll admit that it caught some of my dumber mistakes, but I never felt comfortable using it. I could have proof-read my work better is all. Perhaps if I wasn't given mind-numbing work, the quality would have been better.
We spent a LOT of time tracking down, and finally realized that the "bot" traffic was coming about 30 minutes after one of our employees legitimated visited the site. We found that user was using grammarly. Once we deactivated grammarly, all of the bot traffic stopped.
As best as I could tell, every URL that particular person went to in their browsers, grammarly had a service about 30 minutes later that would try and hit the url directly and ascertain what was there.
Haven't been on the crusade against it ever since.
>Haven't been on the crusade against it ever since.
You have been or you haven't been? It sounds like a contradictory statement from the rest of your comment.
(Note: I have no insider information)
> Ensure your work is fresh and original by checking it against 16 billion web pages.
How do they know what text is on 16B web pages? Presumably they have a web crawler of some sort.
Can confirm. Caught one of their bots on my site and called them out about it on Twitter.
They did not respond.
The page linked doesn't contain the text.
That alone doesn't indicate they collected the 16 billion documents themselves, of course.
I think it’s fine if you use the website with information you don’t mind sharing but their extensions are reading everything you write.
haven't -> have, right?
I can't imagine working in a place like this. I often write with some unusual but perfectly valid grammar constructions that are a result of being well read. Running what I've written, the codification of my thoughts, through a statistical homogenization machine is dystopian in a way I had never imagined. What kind of business was it?
Imagine running famous writers through this thing, even if they're just journalists. Gross. I'm gonna run Moby Dick through Grammarly later and see what it has to say.
I do use a "grammar and style check" built into Ulysses fairly frequently, even on fiction. This is a server-side service like Grammarly, but without the keylogging-ish aspects. (It only works in Ulysses, and you have to explicitly go into "revision mode" and click the "Check Text" button.) And, sure, it's optimized for business writing and is going to make a lot of dumb suggestions. But not all the suggestions are dumb; it really does catch genuine mistakes and even make style suggestions worth considering (e.g., "the phrase here is so overused it's in our database as an overused phrase, so are you sure you want to use it"). And, of course, sometimes I really am writing something for business, and some of the suggestions that are superfluous in creative writing might actually be useful.
I don't like Grammarly's approach explicitly because of the "send everything to Grammarly in the background", but I think people write off style checkers as pointless a little too quickly. Even the stupidest grammar checker, like the one built into macOS (sorry, Apple), will catch things like inadvertently doubled words, which is something I'm prone to do when I pause in the middle of writing a sentence to collect my thoughts.
I parsed this sentence as you running Grammarly on the novel by James Joyce, which would be an interesting experiment given that Joyce deliberately changes his style and grammar to mimic famous authors of the day, sometimes mid-sentence.
That's lovely for you. It sounds like you're very clever. However, most writing in the workplace is intended to communicate concrete ideas, and benefits more from clarity than cleverness.
>> any day of the week
Bland biz comms are not only acceptable but preferred.
Succinct writing with some humor or at least some character to it will actually get that functional spec read.
Joe Spolsky wrote a good piece on this topic: https://www.joelonsoftware.com/2000/10/02/painless-functiona...
1) humor? it's subjective
2) you better be spot on because humor can easily be misinterpreted.
3) along the same lines, it's likely not everyone reading will be of the same native language and/or culture. Humor will likely marginalize them.
4) Frank Luntz "Words That Work". Chapter 1 is comms evergreen gold.
> Running what I've written, the codification of my thoughts, through a statistical homogenization machine is dystopian in a way I had never imagined.
This is why Grammarly exists.
It's the classic case of removing all of the apparent errors which then results in the downstream system underestimating the actual quantity of errors in the source and thus not being vigilant for more critical errors. Sure, it makes people look better to their colleagues, but what happens when they need to communicate in person, or in cases like mistaken context for double negative? The receiver will be so impressed with the level of communication they receive that they won't expect basic errors might be made.
> An algorithm is isn't going to be able to clear up miscommunication more accurately than the person who receives the message.
The whole point isn’t accuracy. Grammarly improves the clarity and accuracy of the message so another person doesn’t have to. The recipient can focus on the message, not applying their superior ability to clear up miscommunications.
So, I tend to agree with you. Whether or not this person has tested Grammarly is somewhat irrelevant because they clearly don’t understand why it exists.
My guess is -- the improvement one might get from using Grammarly might be equivalent to "a faster version of, let me read a BUNCH of examples of similar writings to spark an idea of a better way to say a thing?"
In other words, it feels like the thing that Grammarly might be useful for probably lean "syntactical" over "meaningful?" Something like that.
Ultimately an organizational problem but I gotta say it gets very peeving to write 5 different solutions to the same ask because the other person is careless with their words.
Tools exist to help us. Use them.
What if he does? Do you like generalization?
Wait until you find out about the 5 paragraph essay that's taught in HS that follows this model.
In my experience it doesn't.
It helps people who are already reasonable good at writing English to write slightly better. Through only if their writing is limited to "business" English.
For e.g. papers it's in my experience a catastrophe.
There are also multiple categories of errors it can't cope with and does bad recommendation for. It's the kinda of errors I'm doing a lot. Maybe due to having some dyslexia, maybe because it's my second language, or maybe because my brain thinks slightly different (not joking; Luckily it's just different, not worse.).
I always viewed the grammar checker as a crutch and only used it when required, but some students I worked with on team projects were obsessed with getting no warnings from the grammar check. There were a few ESL students that produced almost unintelligible work that had passed grammar check, and they argued with me when I tried to help them.
My best experience was when one instructor ran my work through the grammar check and then sent me the graded paper (A) which included his long critique of the changes the grammar checker had recommended.
That's not a part of the value of Grammarly. The tool is going to recommend mistakes; if you can't recognize them, then it will hurt you a lot more than it helps.
I can't imagine working in a place like this.
Try comparing the text of a Great Illustrated Classic book to the text of the actual book it "adapts".
At first I was fooled by those productions since they had some non-zero amount of polish to them that looking back I realize is professional stock footage of some kind. Now I know it's junk faceless import products pretty much that are being peddled. There's a whole genre to them and it's funny now to see past them immediately when they appear, but irritating too.
Someone testing homegrown methods of blocking online advertising traffic on their own network.
I never see ads except when testing. I do not use an adblocker for downloading and watching YouTube videos. I use methods that work outside the browser. Adblockers require "modern", graphical web browsers.
"Modern", graphical web browsers are funded by online advertising.
I do not require a browser for accessing YouTUbe.
"Suggest text corrections
Tap words or phrases underlined in green or tap the more menu icon when you see a green dot, to review grammar and writing suggestions.
Powered by Grammarly"
Does this mean that if I have text correction turned on while using the keyboard on my phone, because it is "powered by grammarly", it will be sending unencrypted information to Grammarly?
Personally, I couldn't care less if some giant company is reading my information, but I don't want that transmission being sent unencrypted.
Edit: I should mention that this is not an app that I have installed on my phone. This is literally just the text prediction for my keyboard by default.
So now, very likely, both Samsung and Grammarly have access to everything you type on your phone.
I've been checking out FlorisBoard, available on fdroid.
Sadly, Google and Samsung keyboards are very good at swype/glide, FlorisBoard is coming along though, & I prefer to support it because the other two can't be trusted.
This is my method to write grammar sensitive content -
- Write initial draft in notepad
- Review the document
- Paste content into grammarly
- Review their suggestions
- Review the content one last time.
I just couldn't find anything that is non obtrusive and secure.
Edit: I read through the article. My method seems to be the most secure way to use grammarly. But I am deleting the extension and the app.
This issue may be fixed now, but I would never trust a grammar checker with such a lousy track record for basic issues like which/that.
What does this mean exactly? That they were using HTTP instead of HTTPS, or some custom unencrypted format?
I think it's either Neal Stephenson or maybe Stephen Baxter, but I'm not sure which book it was an aside in (it's not Fall, I haven't read that yet, though that appears to have a similar idea).
I might be wrong, but so far I think it's been pretty easy to tell if text came from a human or a deep-learning system.
Granted, that probably doesn't scale well.
Obviously the corpus (perhaps 1 trillion to to 10 trillion words?) will be exhausted by a sufficiently large model so there’s an upper bound.
Thanks for sharing!
The best mathematician in the world will probably get the same answer I will on a calculator. At most maybe I'll get an irrelevant rounding error.
If there was only one good way to state any idea, no matter the context or intent, it would be different.
I could choose not to use grammarly if I had something to hide, with little trouble. It doesn't do anything most can't do themselves, or anything a local FOSS checker can't do once browsers start integrating them as they probably will someday.
The real danger would be a world in which I can't legally choose not to use it or for some other reason it is no longer a free choice.
Is journalism not part of how we prevent that?
The gist: Don't worry too mich, just use the language. Most people are than delighted to meet a foreigner trying to speak their language.
Also, most English people don't know much about grammar anyway and lots of people still confuse things like there/their/they're; are/our; its/it's etc.
The one caveat here (which I try to cover in this post) is there are definitely people who suffer from things like dyslexia who heavily rely on these types of tools to be able to communicate confidently. In that way, they are very useful.
Indeed, it has been suggested that reductions like "wait" to "w8" even represent the same kind of phonological awareness of language that's correlated with better spelling.
I mean hell if this is the straw than the internet ruined that before I was born -- tldr, imho, afaik, mfw, /s.
when it comes to formal correspondence, spellcheck is always there to help. or better yet, get a copywriter or technical writer to help you and go back to your main responsibilities.
It does if you hold the view that teaching someone to speak and write is teaching them them think.
If that is correct than if someone does not know how to speak and write in a grammatically correct fashion then the implication is that they do not know how to think properly.
Even if there isn't a perfect 1to1 mapping between grammatically correct writing and thinking skills, I still think it's a good proxy for measuring a persons ability to think because in general the more you read, the better you get at writing, and the more you read, the more you know.*
* the traditional caveats apply with garbage in, garbage out.
> If that is correct *than* if someone does not know how to speak and write in a grammatically correct fashion then the implication is that they do not know how to think properly.
And you immediately defeat yourself with your own argument.
Nobody ever has, nor should strive to, follow every grammatical rule perfectly. Errors only matter if they create actual ambiguity; if you understand my intent, then I have used language effectively.
As human thought evolves, language should too. Poets are always breaking rules in the name of art, and many of those changes get codified as new rules. Shakespeare simply made up dozens of words that we use today without a second thought. Over the last decade, modern poets steeped in the culture of sarcasm have given the word "literally" a new meaning. Those deviations and inventions made sense, both to the speakers and listeners, so new words, rules, and understandings were created. The only people left confused are the prescriptionists who cling to outdated rules that describe how people used to talk.
As long as humans can turn these AI assistants off and share their imperfect creativity, I'm not too concerned.
Actually, this is untrue; people automatically follow the rules of their language with extreme accuracy. They don't "strive" only in that following the rules doesn't involve any conscious effort.
This is behind the principle articulated for HTML of "be strict in what you emit and liberal in what you accept". That is how people behave when speaking. But it's not something they're capable of doing in HTML, and trying to apply it there was a mistake.
> Errors only matter if they create actual ambiguity; if you understand my intent, then I have used language effectively.
This isn't right either, in a couple of more serious ways:
First, ambiguity is always present regardless of whether any errors have been made or not. A fun example of ambiguity I noticed recently is "Flemish is more influenced by French than Dutch". Perfect grammar, but the two obvious parses have opposite meanings. Ambiguity arising from a grammatical error is no more serious than ambiguity arising from a lack of errors.
Second, the major problem with failing to follow the grammar of a language is that it prevents your audience from knowing whether they understand you or not. One thing I can say if you speak to me in broken English is that you aren't aware of the rules of English. Given that, even your apparently flawless sentences might have been intended to mean something quite different from what they would mean if spoken by an English speaker.
You can't possibly be serious! If this view is based on your real-life experience then I am amazed at the rarefied circles to which you belong.
- Nationwide, on average, 79% of U.S. adults are literate in 2022.
- 21% of adults in the US are illiterate in 2022.
- 54% of adults have a literacy below 6th grade level.
- 34% of adults who lack proficiency in literacy were born outside the US.
Based on these stats, you can rest assured that at least half of the adults in the United States do not have perfect grammar. And although "proficiency" is not precisely defined, I think it's safe to assume that a majority of these low-literacy adults are native speakers.
How much effort did it take you to select the form 'am' in 'I am amazed' while selecting 'is' in 'this view is based'?
When's the last time you heard anyone make a mistake in conjugating be?
That's what a grammatical rule looks like.
I'll agree as far as it goes, but it ignores the burden of understanding on the the part of your interlocutor.
Have you ever been in a conversation where either you or the other party didn't speak the language well? It is a strain on all parties, even if sufficient information was transmitted and understood. I might consider this merely sufficient or barely "effective". I'd hope we aim for clearly expressing oneself without causing strain on your conversation partner or reader.
A good deal of what people quibble over regarding "grammar" has more to do with good style (whatever that means to you -- proper use of less/fewer, who/whom, capitalization and punctuation, etc) and achieving a certain verbal register.
I don't hold that view. at least, I don't think effective communication requires mastering the formal rules of a natural language. I'm not even sure communication itself is that closely tied to complex thought. I've known a few brilliant engineers whose english was barely sufficient for work. perhaps they were quite elegant in their native tongues; I wouldn't be able to say.
I think it does in some respect; our language's grammar and vocabulary litteraly govern the way we see the world, after all. As a personal anecdote, I'm ESL and write as a hobby, both in my native language and English, and I do feel the differences (and limitations) in the way my mind works depending on language.
I know that my inadequacies in English mean that my style is different. Descriptions and reasonings are simpler. In my native language, I can easily use word plays, ambiguities, be bolder and "more clever" (or less stupid :p). In English, I unconsciously keep things less complex. I'm a different author, and so the worlds I describe in my texts are simpler, too.
English is also far more "pragmatic" than my birth language. I can't word things the same way. Thus, my thinking as an "English writer" is far more rational and cause-to-effect-ish.
It's like any tool: you can absolutely use a programming language through tutorial and google searches, but you have to truly master it to really understand its concepts, to really use it to do something cleverly and intelligently -- and you won't plan a complex task the very same way in two different programming languages.
Does it matter if someone does not write with perfect grammar and spelling? Probably not.
However at some point you have drifted so far from normal conventions that you are no longer communicating effectively. You can make reasonable arguments about both prescriptivism and descriptivism but if your spelling and grammar are so bad that someone can't understand you then you're not a descriptivist, you're just wrong.
I have encountered this more often than I'd like in professional settings. I work in software development, a field where precision is important, so if I'm looking at your job application and it's full of basic language errors then I absolutely will judge you for that.
I'm a fan of learning grammar well, to be clear, and wish mine were better, but this is not a good argument for grammar mattering.
Even scanning text is jarring when the rules aren’t followed, takes extra time to comprehend and adds to the minor irritants of daily life and will have people judging you, even subconsciously, as unintelligent.
ok, i'll let myself out.
Hell let get rid of computers as well, people should just do everything manually, if you need to communicate drive to the person an talk to them, if you need to write something get out the hammer, chisel and rock...
No Computers, Spell Check, nor grammar check has not ruined civilization or made people stop learning things...
Having a proper understanding of grammar and spelling is relevant even in verbal communication. Tools should be used to augment human capacity, not used as an excuse to justify atrophy of basic skills.
It's irritating how often people even confuse "your" and "you're" nowadays. Some simplifications are harmless but plenty of them can change meaning. And it seems like texting and autocompletion makes people care less and less.
If they just fixed everything for you, you wouldn’t improve at all.
This experience made me much more careful about the way I write, and who I write for.