Just as we look with curiosity at the hep lingo of the Beats (and selectively adopt their patois), I predict generations hence will both mock and adopt the Google-optimized syntax and gleefully vulgar diction of the contemporary listicle. And in that future, linguists and grammarians reverse-engineering our decade’s contribution to language will probably extract something not unlike this: the BuzzFeed style guide.
And it’s a nonclusterfuck. While it may seem to the casual observer that BuzzFeed plays fast and loose, this style guide is evidence that the enterprise employs a flavor of editorial rigor seemingly bygone, more conservative era. This is a good thing.
The word list is a time capsule in waiting. Editors openly acknowledge the role the site plays in a broader conversation, advocating hat-tips in their corrections policy. The LGBT section is thorough and humane. Just as On Writing is my favorite Stephen King book, this is probably my favorite thing BuzzFeed has published.
A few of my favorite bon mots:
- On combining forms:
“-esque (closed up/hyphens depend on readability: yolo-esque, Kafkaesque)”
- On headlines:
“For lists, always use a numeral. ‘9 Adorable Photos Of Monkeys Riding Cats,’ ’54 Amazing GIFs Of Naked Presidents'”
- On music:
“Hyphenate all made-up constructions.”
- On periods:
“Use one space between a period and the next sentence. Never two.” (Yes please.)
- Miscellaneous numerals:
“8mm film, 8-track tape, Hot 97, 55 mph, $150K”
Related, both in the Atlantic: Because Internet and TL;DR: Srsly, this is the future of language. Squee.