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Skitt’s Law is an Internet axiom which states that people who correct other’s spelling or grammar are likely to commit errors themselves. It is often used as a humorous critique of the pedantic Internet users known as Grammar Nazis. Several similar laws referring to the same principle have arisen independently, but Skitt’s Law is the most prevailing term.
On April 26th, 1999, a member of the Usenet group alt.usage.english G. Bryan Lord (a.k.a. Skitt) coined the term in a thread discussing the nuances of using the titles "Ms. and “Miss.” When user Perchprism replied remarking that the group’s rules may make some users to be overly self-conscious, Skitt replied with the definition of “Skitt’s Law”:
“You’ve entered my vocabulary: Skitt’s Law, a corollary of Murphy’s Law, variously expressed as “any post correcting an error in another post will contain at least one error itself” or “the likelihood of an error in a post is directly proportional to the embarrassment it will cause the poster.” The effect is, of course, magnified a hundredfold if the post is in reply to Skitt himself."
On May 15th, 1990, alt.sex user Andrew Bell replied to a thread regarding grammar corrections that are incorrect with “Bell’s First Law of Usenet”:
“Bell’s First Law of USENET: Flames of spelling and/or grammar will
have spelling and/or grammatical errors.”
In March of 1992, Austrilian John Bangsund of the Victorian Society of Editors coined “Muphry’s Law” in the Society of Editors Newsletter as an editorial version of Murphy’s Law.
“Muphry’s Law dictates that (a) if you write anything criticizing editing or proofreading, there will be a fault of some kind in what you have written; (b) if an author thanks you in a book for your editing or proofreading, there will be mistakes in the book; (c) the stronger the sentiment expressed in (a) and (b), the greater the fault; (d) any book devoted to editing or style will be internally inconsistent.
On April 20th, 1999, just six days prior to Skitt’s Usenet post, Kith.org webmaster Jed Hartman posted an article titled “Nitpickers R Us”, which introduced “Hartman’s Law of Precriptivist Retaliation.”
“Hartman’s Law of Prescriptivist Retaliation states that any article or statement about correct grammar, punctuation, or spelling is bound to contain at least one eror.”
In the October 2001 issue of the language quarterly publication Verbatim, American lexicographer Erin McKean was quoted describing what she referred to as “McKean’s Law.”
“Any correction of the speech or writing of others will contain at least one grammatical, spelling, or typographical error.”
On December 3rd, 2003, Skitt’s Law was referenced in a thread on the English Forums regarding the nuances of sex and gender rules. On November 10th, 2004, Vocaboly forums member Maria Conlon mentioned the adage in a thread regarding the correct usage of the responses “me too” and “you too.” On August 8th, 2005, The Straight Dope forums member Mops posted a thread questioning if there was a law for spelling corrections that contained spelling mistakes, to which user Catalyst replied that it was known as “Gaudere’s Law” on Straight Dope and “Skit’s Law” and “Tober’s Lor” elsewhere. On October 23rd, 2009 The Telegraph published an article tittled “Internet rules and laws: the top 10, from Godwin to Poe”, listing Skitt’s Law as the fourth Internet rule in the top ten list. On the following day, an entry for Skitt’s Law was created on the Rational Wiki, which pointed out its similarities to Muphry’s Law and McKean’s Law. On December 10th, the blog Net Culture Talk published a post titled “Internet Meme: Skitt’s Law”, claiming the point of the law was to point out that “everyone makes typos.” On August 30th, 2010,
The Telegraph – Internet Rules and Laws – The Top 10, From Godwin to Poe
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