I’d just like to say really quickly that I do in fact know when and how to use a semicolon. It is quite likely that, any time you may see a grammatical error of some sort (or misuse of the UNIX trademark or other such issues that are not strictly technical) in one of my article at TechRepublic, it was an editor altering my article prior to publication who introduced the error, and not me. The same goes for ambiguities of context introduced by formatting, such as when list items get turned into subsection headings (and, thus, the end of the list is no longer a visible end to anything when list items contain multiple paragraphs).
I can’t fucking stand it.
The incident that precipitated this comment from me is in one of my least interesting articles (in my opinion), Avoid ambiguity when referring to account names. The incident in question occurs with these words:
that value is greater than the cost of the added effort involved is difficult to answer in the general case; but for a person whose login information management procedures easily handle this behavior
This article was also a case of a list turning into a series of subsections, so that there’s now no point of differentiation between the last paragraph of the final list item (or subsection) and the first paragraph of the rest of the article. Argh.
Oh, well. It wasn’t really one of my best articles anyway. At least this time it wasn’t a great article turned into a mediocre article by someone else’s meddling.
The last time I tried talking to an editor there about introducing errors into my articles, it was about the UNIX trademark. UNIX is a trademark; Unix is not. Thus, when I say BSD Unix, I’m talking about the BSD branch of the Unix family of operating systems. When a TR editor changes that to BSD UNIX, the sentence now refers to . . . what? Some nonexistent Single UNIX Specification conforming and certified variant of BSD Unix that is called “BSD UNIX” . . . ? Who knows?
When I brought this up, I was basically told to keep my correctness to myself because that’s the way TR does it, has always done it, and will always do it. Since then, I’ve just quietly kept using terms correctly and, when people complained to me about misuse of the term UNIX, I have explained how the term got misused. That’s it. C’est la vie. The lesson I learned from that experience is that I shouldn’t argue about correctness with the editors, because they don’t care.
I won’t bother pointing out to them that “; but” is a sure sign you don’t know how to use a semicolon correctly.