I have always believed that you cannot proof your own work; I know that I can’t. We’ve all seen those memes that ask you to see if you can read them. Most people can read them without any issues. Give the following a quick read and see if it makes sense.
You can see the errors, but your mind “corrects” them for you and you can probably read it. But, if you wrote it, your mind usually corrects the errors and you don’t see them. That’s why I contend most people cannot proof their own work.
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But, if you are writing for yourself, who can proof your work? Your wife? Your teenager? What if they’re not readily available? If I wait for my wife or daughter, it might be several days before I can publish something.
Let Your Readers Do The Final Proof Of Your Work
They’re going to do it anyway, so why not ask them to point out any errors that they see so that you can correct them quickly.
Use A Contact Form So They Can Report Errors
Simply create a contact form where your readers can enter in the errors that they find and report them to you.
What could be easier? Right?
When I used to teach business owners about improving their businesses, I always made a statement that has stuck with me to this day. “You cannot make it too easy for a customer to do business with you!”
By the same token, you can’t make it too easy for a reader to inform you of errors in your copy. A contact form requires the reader to:
- Notice the error
- Click a link for the contact form
- Enter their contact information
- Remember the error
- Remember what post had the error
- Actually take the time to submit the error
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Can It Be Easier?
Until very recently, it wasn’t any easier. But, thanks to a relatively new plugin, Error Notification, it is now much easier for both your reader and for you.
With the plugin installed and activated, navigate to your Settings menu and select Error Notification from the list. You will be presented with the page below which shows two potential settings.
The first option is to choose your style – Light, Dark, Blue, Red, Yellow, or Green. Once you’ve chosen your style, click the “Submit” button to save your choice.
The second option is a customized message when someone sends you an error report. You can tailor this to your specific needs or desires. Once you’ve customized your message, click the “Submit” button to save that information.
What Does This Plugin Do?
As you can see from the above screenshot, you see that I put an error in the post. At the bottom of the post is an added line explaining to the user what they can do to report an error. All the user has to do is highlight the error and either hit “Shift+E” or click the “click here” link to report it.
Once the error is reported, a “Thank You” message is displayed in a bar at the bottom of the browser window.
What Does The Email Tell Me?
Once someone reports an error, you receive an email at the admin email defined in your WordPress setup telling you that someone has reported an error on your website.
Now that your reader has informed you of your error, you know which website it’s on, the URL of the page that has the error, and even what the error is. Simply search for that error and correct it in your editor and you are good to go.
What About Support?
When I began to write this article, I installed the plugin and discovered that it did not work as intended. I contacted the plugin developer in the support area of the WordPress Repository and was shocked to get a response within minutes. The developer identified the problem and promised to work on it the next day. The following day, an update was available and the problem was solved.
This developer is very responsive to support issues. Plus, while correcting this issue, the plugin was confirmed as compatible with WordPress v3.5.
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How do you proof your work? Do you have a mechanism in place for your readers to report errors to you? Tell us what you think of this solution and what you use – if anything? I’d love to hear about it.