The right way to write ‘Web site’

By Derrick, Knutson, associate editor

All right, get ready for a rant.

It’s “Web site,” not “website, “Website,” “web site” or “web-site.”

Well, according to the Associated Press, any written references in news articles to pages on the jumble of wires, electricity and Mark Zuckerberg creations that is the Internet should now be referred to as “websites.”

“Web,” lowercase on the “w,” then “site,” all run together.

Oh the agony.

People who don’t have a news writing background probably don’t care about this little change that occurred in the AP Stylebook – the Bible of newspaper writing style rules – about a year ago, but I do, probably because I have an undiagnosed disorder that causes me to fret over small, seemingly insignificant things.

“Web site” made sense. As it was explained to me by a tech-savvy college professor years ago, the World Wide Web is a creation important enough to warrant being capitalized.

Al Gore, err … I mean Tim Berners-Lee changed communication forever when he created the Web. Notice that when Web stands on its own it’s capitalized. That makes sense, right?

I’d be fine with the relatively new style change if the AP Stylebook didn’t prompt news writers to implement a slew of archaic, confusing rules.

Take, for example, state abbreviations – I don’t know about you, but I can identify every state in the nation with its postal abbreviation.

The AP apparently thinks people can’t quite figure out what WI or CA are, though, so Wisconsin and California are abbreviated Wis. and Calif.

Most other states are shortened this way in the stylebook.

Eight states aren’t even abbreviated.

Gosh, what’s “MN”? Oh, thank you AP for letting me know a story took place in the state of Minnesota by nearly spelling the word out with the abbreviation “Minn.”

There are also some terms found in the stylebook that I’ve never seen in a news story, or in any other print format, for that matter.

Example: wigwag.

I’d like to think I have at least a somewhat well rounded vocabulary, but I was at a loss to define the aforementioned entry.

The AP Stylebook tells us only that wigwag is lowercased, but doesn’t give a hint about what it means.

After doing a bit of Internet research, I determined a wigwag is either a railroad-crossing signal, a chocolate bar, a headlight flasher or about half a dozen other things.

Perhaps the entry in the stylebook should read, “Use ‘wigwag’ as a substitute for absolutely any word.”

Possible headlines: “Wigwag terrorizes city,” “Wigwag droppings problem in park,” or ‘Running back sidelined due to wigwag injury.”

I guess the point of this rant is to draw attention to us suffering news writers. I’m sure I’m not the only word nerd bothered by the “website” – ugh, writing it that way just feels wrong – change.

Time to go lobby Al Gore to intimidate the AP into changing the rule back to the way it was.

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