Does using slang make us lose credibility?

Posted by Hayleigh Syens


 photo credit: HowardLake via photopin cc

On April 3, Gawker editor Max Read sent out a memo to Gawker writers that banned Internet slang like “epic” and “derp” from the Gawker website, citing that “We want to sound like regular adult human beings, not Buzzfeed writers or Reddit commenters,” and that writers need to “err on the side of the Times, not XOJane.”

Read seems to want to make Gawker a more credible news source by banning such terms, but I wonder if this will work. Yes, slang is usually used for silly posts, but it is becoming how our generation communicates (I’m not sure I can come up with a better adjective for this dog’s face than derp). If you start to take away these terms, even the one’s that existed before the Internet, like “epic” and “win”, do you start to have disconnect with your readers?

Gawker’s audience, judging from the stories featured on their front page, probably has the same audience that Buzzfeed does. But while Buzzfeed has figured out how to occasionally use the slang in productive terms (the head story for Buzzfeed’s Epic Buzz section is “Rand Paul on the Warpath”, which sounds like a credible news story to me), I fear Gawker may turn some of their readers off by refusing to communicate the same way they do.

On a side note, the use of the word “massive” was also banned by Read.

If you worked for an online site like Buzzfeed or Gawker, would you use slang in your writing? Or do you fear it would zap all of your credibility as a writer?





2 responses to “Does using slang make us lose credibility?

  1. ariellamiesner

    As a women who didn’t know what “derp” meant, or how it should be used, I would have no problem keeping the word out of a piece for an online site. Gaining someones attention and keeping it goes way beyond slang in my opinion, and if a future employer tells me to refrain from using it in my writing I’m still left with plenty of resources.
    Successful writers of past and present did not rely on slang to gain readership, I hope.
    With all that said, I don’t see why a little cultural relevance/slang should be a big deal. If the online site has credible writers then they should trust those writers.

  2. While slang makes people seem more relatable, using it does diminish credibility a bit because it makes us look more casual. I don’t know if banning it entirely is the answer, especially if the Gawker is addressing the same target audience as Buzzfeed, but I do believe it makes sense to minimize it in writing. If slang is part of the essence and style of a publication, then by all means keep it, but if it isn’t, minimizing it is always a good idea.

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