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Charlie Hatton
Brookline, MA

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Howdy, friendly reading person!
I'm on a bit of a hiatus right now, but only to work on other projects -- one incredibly exciting example being the newly-released kids' science book series Things That Make You Go Yuck!
If you're a science and/or silliness fan, give it a gander! See you soon!

ummmm…….. ur a grammer nazi, lololol!!!!!!!

I’m generally not a fan of prejudice. I believe it’s a misguided and insidious human notion that we should work to recognize and eradicate in ourselves, each and every day. Much like the wave in sports stadiums or the idea that Denise Richards can act.

(Look, the pinnacle of her thespian career was when George Costanza stared down her blouse in 1993. I’m just saying.)

I’m specifically and solidly against the sorts of prejudice that you see in corporate disclaimer blurbs — racism, genderism, skin colorism, ageism, sexual preferenceism, creedism, national originism. There are probably others by now. The lawyers would have seen to that.

Still. There is one place where a little pre-judging is perhaps justified. Or maybe it’s “real-time” judging. Programming geeks might call it “just-in-time judging”.

“I stand beside my fellow computer nerds every day, pocket protector to pocket protector.”

(And no, that’s not a form of geekism. I stand beside my fellow computer nerds every day, pocket protector to pocket protector.

Mostly proverbially. On especially frightening days, less so.)

So where is this place in which I’m advocating bias, and on what grounds? I’m talking about the internet, and the judging I’m doing is all about intelligence.

Here’s the thing. When you meet someone in person, you have a wealth of information to clue you in about how “together” this individual’s shit is likely to be. Visual cues, in their mannerisms and dress and interactions with others. Audible hints, in the tone and subtlety and message of what they’re saying.

(Also, in the accent. I’ll admit to having a fairly strong bias against accents typically associated with the southeastern U.S. I recognize this, and fight it every single time the first words out of someone’s mouth make me picture them as a cross between Foghorn Leghorn and one of those people from Deliverance. Not the ones in the rafts. You know the ones I mean.

And okay, I don’t fight it every time. But most. At least sixty percent. I’m trying, over here, is all. I promise.)

But on the internet, these hints are mostly absent. All that you know about most internet people — the ones not using ChatRoulette, anyway; good lord, let’s not talk about the ChatRoulette people — is two things: what they’ve typed, and how they’ve typed it. Seeing as how the point of typing something in a public space is, presumably, to get a coherent message across, I think it’s fair to judge (or pre-judge, or JIT-judge, if you like) the “how” to determine something about the credibility of the “what”.

Or put more simply: I’m likely to ignore someone who seems like an idiot on the internet, irrespective of whether they’re actually an idiot, virtually or in real life.

This is not a new concept. Many people have said the same. I, however, have some particular rules I follow. And here they are:

First and foremost: Everyone gets a fair shake.

I visit some spots on the interwebs where the discourse is deep and insightful… and I lurk in other corners where barbs and poo and AOL-speak (in increasing order of disgustingness, naturally) are flung with alarming regularity. The way I figure it, if I’m reading there, I can’t really ding anyone else just for writing there, without further evidence of a botched lobotomy in an individual poster’s past. Fair’s fair.

So, everyone starts equally, which suggests also “averagely”.

Thus, The pre-assumed IQ of a post’s author is roughly 100.

That’s how the IQ tests work, or so I’m told. “Post” here means anything on the web — articles, comments, petitions, this piece, whatever.

(Yeah, right. Like anyone would assume my IQ is three digits.

No, you shut up.)

There are rules, naturally, for moving up the scale. These have to do with eloquence and salience and respect for the reader and logical argument and all sorts of other boring shit that nobody wants to hear about. So forget the assumed scores that go up. Instead, I’ll lay out the other half of the equation. Namely:

Charlie’s Rules for Who Is Probably a Slackjawed Boobjob on the Internet

These all work in the same way. To wit:

What I Read IQ Adjustment I Assume
‘Ur’ used instead of ‘your’ -2 points
‘There’ used in place of ‘their’ -1 points
An ellipsis longer than three dots -1 point
An ellipsis longer than five dots -4 points
An ellipsis longer than eight dots -100 points; died on keyboard
First misspelling per 100 words -0 points; everybody gets one
Second misspelling per 100 words -1 point
Third misspelling per 100 words -3 points
Defending misspellings as “not using spell check” -5 points
Misspelling words in the misspelling defense -10 points and irony lessons
‘Lol’ at someone else’s post -3 points
Each additional ‘ol’ on ‘lol’ -2 points
Refusal to use capital letters -5 points, unless e.e. cummings
A reply starting with ‘um’ -5 points
Each additional ‘m’ on ‘um’ -2 points
More than two ‘!’s or ‘?’s in a row -2 points
More than four ‘!’s or ‘?’s in a row -10 points; possibly Gilbert Gottfried
Sentence starting with “everybody knows…” -5 points
“Clever” respelling of someone’s name -20 points; slow head shake
Evidence of usual prejudices above -50 points; a tear for humanity

Is it a perfect system? Not really. For one thing, it allows — in some contexts, you might say encourages — negative IQ values. But it’s a system. And I sleep a little better knowing that when someone I’m reading dips below an assumed, say, 50 IQ or so, it’s time to disengage.

See, that was Costanza’s problem: he didn’t know when to disengage. It’s all circles within circles here. Circles within circles within Denise Richards’ circles, apparently.

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