Make It Easy For Your Readers To Help You Proof Your Posts

WordPress Error Notification - Proofreading - Spelling - GrammarI 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.
WordPress Error Reporting Plugin - Misspelled WordsYou 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.
WordPress Error Reporting Plugin - Error Notification 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?

WordPress Error Reporting Plugin - Example Of Error Reporting In Use
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.
WordPress Error Reporting Plugin - Highlighting An Error
Once the error is reported, a “Thank You” message is displayed in a bar at the bottom of the browser window.
WordPress Error Reporting Plugin - Error Reported Thank You Message

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.
WordPress Error Reporting Plugin - Email Notification
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.

Photo Credits: rick via photopin cc

Comments (10)

  1. Another similar plugin/service is this one:

    http://wpmu.org/blogging-mistakes-edit-huddle/

    Maybe the author of “Error Notification” could pick some ideas! :-)

    This kind of plugin can be extremely useful for a lot of websites to help maintaining their documentation and “help” sections up to date and accurate (avoiding grammar/spelling AND factual mistakes).

    The ability to use it only on some specific pages/posts would be great (for example with a shortcode).

    Sorry for my limited English.

    • Thanks for commenting and sharing that article; I certainly wasn’t aware of Edit Huddle. But, I like it equally as well. One of the things that it does is something that has already been suggested to the author of this plugin – the ability to tell “what type” of error or suggestion, plus some additional information if you want to add it. These types of plugins would be very helpful to someone writing in a language that is not their native language so that native speakers could help them state things correctly. When I worked for a French company, I learned very quickly that just because it translates to “goat skin milkbag” doesn’t necessarily mean that is what it really is. (BTW, the French word I’m mentioning is actually “bladder” or “membrane” in English.

      An author’s willingness to accept this type of input makes them “approachable” by their readers and can create a very friendly atmosphere on their website.

      I also like the idea to turn it ON/OFF on a per page/post basis. I would probably set it up as a “Default” for the entire website and then the ability to reverse that with a checkbox on any page/post rather than a shortcode that you had to insert every time. But, either way would work great.

  2. I would love to see this have a couple more features, like the ability to turn on/off on certain posts as was previously mentioned in another comment.

    It looks like it the plugin is set to display below the post. The ability to either place it above post, bottom of page, or in a widget would be nice.

    Also, the ability to customize the error being reported. One error report that would be very useful is if a Video Embed is no longer playing. This is a common problem for sites that embed YouTube videos into their posts.

    • Outstanding suggestions BigGeekDaddy.

      I’m going to ping the developer with a link to this article and ask him to drop by, read everyone’s comments and suggestions, and chime in with any comments.

      I appreciate the interaction here – it inspires me to dig deeper to find more useful tools for WordPress. Keep ‘em coming.

  3. Just tried it out. It’s sweet! Quick and easy and does exactly what you said it would! Also made it a “favorite” at WordPress.org (for use with Favorite Plugins – another one of your best suggested plugins).

    • Goodday Angelopc.

      Thanks for commenting and glad it worked as we said it would. If you like the new “Favorites” function, but would like to have the ability to install multiple plugins at once (as Sarah said in her article on that new function), then you need to check out PluginBot. Here’s an article we published a few weeks back on that and it works very well. It takes the “favorite” function to a much more usable solution if you install a lot of plugins and want to do it with just a few clicks. Sarah and I both agree that the favorites function needs the ability to install multiple plugins without having to go back to the search screen.

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