I wish I had the nerve to talk like this to the newsdesk:
If you’ve ever tried submitting anything to the Internet Movie Database, you may recognise this tone. IMDb is a wiki – that is, an aggregation of user contributions – but it has achieved the status of a semi-official reference tool at the Tribune, much more so than Wikipedia ever will. And I think that may be because of its fearsome army of robot editors, which intercept and scan everything you submit, and more often than not sling it back like Jason Robards growling “You haven’t got it” to Redford and Hoffman.
No diffident pencilled queries in the margin for IMDb: for example, if you have a couple of pieces of casting information you want to add to a TV show, you’d better have chapter and verse to hand.
So you say this person was in the show? Here are a list of actors with similar names: it’s easy to get confused. If you’re uncertain, click here and we’ll sort it out for you. Or perhaps you’d just like to give up the whole idea? Choose an option, please. (And by the way, you formatted the request wrongly. It has already been corrected: this is merely a notification.)
That’s the spirit. And if you submit anything as ambitious as a three-line episode summary, you get pulled apart like a rookie screenwriter at a pitch meeting:
There are misspellings. You have written too much: if you insist on overfiling, we will simply move your piece to a different slot inside the site (delicious). And, my favourite bit of all:
“The following fixes have been applied automatically: ‘…’ has been replaced with ‘.’ in accordance with IMDb rules.”
No judicious exceptions, no stretching a point. Ellipses are just banned, rather like the way all semicolons were excised for some years on the Tribune’s sport section. It’s a rule. And I suspect that “surveilling”, even if spelt correctly, will turn out to be “not in the dictionary”. I’ll just change it now. They won’t like it.
For the first time in my life, I feel like a writer.