You'll spot them in status updates, blog posts, even New York Times articles. The Internet is filthy with typos, confusing countless readers each and every day. But instead of just groaning and reading on, a legion of spelling sticklers are using Twitter to try and sweep the web clean. A few of these typo vigilantes talked with us about what drives their copyediting urges, and the responses were as intense as they were varied — which makes sense, because those going over the Internet with a red pen do so for many different reasons.
Take @YourInAmerica. A hilarious account that's been getting lots of press, it sets out to expose the hypocrisy of xenophobes telling immigrants to learn English when they themselves don't know the difference between "your" and "you're." Some Twitter typo cops get their trollish kicks by playing up the "fascism" of their prescriptivism. And others, like @StealthMountain, do it for the LOLz. This account robotically corrects people who misspell "sneak peek" as "sneak peak." Its main timeline is predictable, but @StealthMountain's favorited Tweets, which collect abusive comebacks from the corrected parties, are amazing:
@stealthmountain no fuck you it was word play because I'm going to the top of a mountain tomorrow your grammar nazi bitch— Mike Leary (@Learys_Done) September 28, 2012
The common gripe from the typo hounds seems to be a growing frustration with how sloppy online writing has become. Curtis Gibby—the 31-year-old Utahan and Mormon father of four who mans the @badapostrophes handle—is a loyal Wired reader, but typos in the magazine's blog posts never cease to irk him. "This is a media property run by Conde Nast, and they can't get it together enough to keep a few bad apostrophes out of their stories?" he fumes over email. As someone who's been nitpicking copy since his days on a student newspaper, Gibby says, "I left journalism four years ago for greener pastures as a programmer, but I haven't ever gotten rid of the red-pen bug."