Speaking up and Spinach

colored lines and circles by jeremy snyder

If tomorrow I sent you a message that I noticed an error on your website or a possible bug in your software application, would you:

  • Fix it at your first available opportunity?
  • Brush me off for pointing out the error?
  • Think I am overly critical and probably get special satisfaction in finding errors?

Sometimes I get a weird vibe after taking the time to mention an error that I noticed. I wonder why I don’t hear back with a simple “thanks for reaching out”.

I had been helping my son review his 6th grade vocabulary list for an upcoming test.
One of the vocabulary words was “horde”. For some reason this word stuck out in my mind even after we were finished the test review. Soon after, I read the latest issue of an email newsletter–which always contained creative and useful stories. I noticed the word “horde” which seemed out of place. I checked the dictionary to be sure I was not confused and I sent an email immediately to the author-business owner suggesting a review of the word use in the context.

When I notified the author, I knew it would be impossible to take back the email newsletter. However, I suspected it would be possible to correct the error on the website which the article was linked to. The author immediately corrected the word to “hoard” and sent me a thank you note by email with a request for my mailing address. A wonderful surprise arrived by mail a few days later. It was a beautiful coffee mug. Each time I use the mug I am reminded to continue to mention issues of concern to friends, industry peers and even competitors.

Publishing tools like WordPress significantly reduce the friction in the process to fix a typo, remove a broken link, and repair most 404 errors. When I notice an important issue and privately mention it to someone who I know has the access and authority to fix it, I am always surprised when I see the error unchanged weeks later. (note: I recognize that bugs in the code take can take more time to properly fix.)

I consider speaking up about a typo or bug to be similar to having spinach stuck in my teeth at a business lunch or forgetting to cut off the tag on my new blouse. It is nice to be made aware so I can take action to avoid giving a bad 1st impression to a prospective client.

Therefore, if you find a typo or other important error I have made on my website, please reach out to me on my email contact form so I can address the issue promptly.

Image Credit: Jeremy Snyder