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Gawker Memo: Don’t Write like BuzzFeed

Written By : Warner Todd Huston
April 7, 2014

Gawker thinks quite highly of itself, it appears. So high, in fact, that employees have now been told not to write like those ne’er do wells over at BuzzFeed.

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“We want to sound like regular adult human beings, not Buzzfeed writers or Reddit commenters,” new Gawker Editor Max Read told employees of the website famed for its name calling and taunt-filled blog posts.

The editor of the blog that says it is “the source for daily Manhattan media news and gossip,” sent out the memo to employees on April 1 informing them that henceforth Internet slang was banned. No more “derps,” not another “epic,” not one more “pwn,” and most certainly no “massives” will be allowed.

Read is telling employees to avoid using type with a strike through in posts, too, informing them that if they have a correction to make they should actually write the thing out and note that it is a correction.

So old world.

Editor Read just wants to make Gawker a site for grownups not slang-happy, Internet punks… like Buzzfeed. Then again, this is the same Gawker that currently has a headline that reads, “Jeopardy Contestant Accuses Alex Trebek of Wearing Sweatshop Suits.” Then there is, “Map Porn: Average Date of Year’s First Tornado Warning.” There is also the grown up story, “Mike Arrington Won’t Shake Your Disgusting Hand.”

When queried, Read affirmed that his April 1 memo was no April Fools joke. He was totally serious.

Full Text of Memo

I meant to send this out on Monday but forgot. These are my exclamation points.
THE BANNED LIST:

• Strikethroughs. No more strikethrough tag. It’s HTML styling, and it gets stripped in Google searches, RSS, tweets, through copy-pastes, etc., completely fucking up our meaning, especially in headlines (e.g.: http://gawker.com/5974190/here-is-a-list-of-all-the-assholes-who-own-guns-in-new-york-city)

For corrections, rather than strikethrough, change the wording and link from there to a comment noting the corrected text, as Tom does here: http://gawker.com/thanks-ill-correct-it-and-link-down-to-this-correctio-1554296985.

(While we’re at it I want to note Keenan’s correction here, which is done is the proper spirit and is funny to boot: http://gawker.com/david-brooks-may-not-have-gotten-divorced-after-all-1555282728)

We should strive to make our writing clear and precise even absent any text formatting.
Jokes made using strikethrough are generally not worth saving.

• Internet slang. We used to make an effort to avoid this, and now I see us all falling back into the habit. We want to sound like regular adult human beings, not Buzzfeed writers or Reddit commenters. Therefore: No “epic.” No “pwn.” No “+1.” No “derp.” No “this”/”this just happened.” No “OMG.” No “WTF.” No “lulz.” No “FTW.” No “win.” No “amazeballs.” And so on. Nothing will ever “win the internet” on Gawker. As with all rules there are exceptions. Err on the side of the Times, not XOJane.

• The word “massive.” Is never to appear on the website Gawker dot com. Here’s a handy list of synonyms for your headline toolkit:

> huge, enormous, vast, immense, large, big, mighty, great, colossal, tremendous, prodigious, gigantic, gargantuan, mammoth, monstrous, monumental, giant, towering, elephantine, mountainous, titanic; Herculean, Brobdingnagian; monster, jumbo, mega, whopping, humongous, hulking, honking, bumper, astronomical, ginormous

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