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Jul 08 2010
Do you know how to write for the web? Well, Yahoo has just released their new Yahoo! Web Style Guide (available now!) and companion website to help you answer that question. When it was first announced that Yahoo was releasing this guide I was initially excited and felt like it was an important step forward. However, after thinking and reading about it, I’m failing to see why this is important to anyone except a select few, and I fail to see why Yahoo feels they are relevant enough to release this kind of guide.
If a web style guide was put together and published by Google; oh my, the Internet would be on fire about how this is the most important addition to web publishing since the adoption of HTML. This release isn’t from Google though, and Yahoo doesn’t have the juice it once did, are they expecting a wide adoption of this web writing style? So I will be interested to see what kind of adoption there is for the Yahoo style.
Aside from the book Yahoo has also introduced a companion website (http://styleguide.yahoo.com/) to assist with all of your web writing needs. I think the most interesting aspect is the Ask an Editor feature, which is basically just a Frequently Asked Questions page. I would love for this to turn into a real-time interactive feature incorporating social media tools to have real conversations with users and writers about their questions.
Writing for the web is not the same as writing for print, you don’t have the constraints of space on the web like in print. News reporters have had the AP Style Guide to be their universally accepted standard since the 1950’s and have a new edition released each year, usually in June. Yahoo has definitely become a more reliable and trusted news source over the years, but I think they have overreached their influence in this case.
Will the Yahoo! Web Style Guide be widely accepted? I don’t know. It has only been out for a couple of days as this post, so that will be seen. I really wanted to write this article about how important an addition to copywriting and blogging this guide would be, but the more I thought about it the less important this guide seemed. I don’t want to come across as being 100% against this style guide, it’s a good first effort to standardize language and it’s proper usage on the web. I just don’t think Yahoo is the right company to set these standards. I know I will be purchasing a copy to put on my Kindle so I have it with me all the time, and I will use it help with my copywriting style, but aside from me, word nerds and some bloggers, I don’t see this as catching on like wildfire throughout the Internet.
– Brian Tudor
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