Distributed Spelling

I have spell checkers in all these programs:
Eudora, Internet Explorer (via ieSpell.),Microsoft Word, emacs, using ispell/aspell on several unix/linux computers and Dreamweaver

I'm sick of re-adding words to all those custom spelling word lists. I want my lists shared. A netcheck [Link removed 03/25/2004] of google found a way to synch your PocketPC and desktop PC versions of Word, but is too hard for most users. We need a web service anyone can use for all programs, and client-side programs that will go in and add the words to the right places for all those lists.

And imagine using other people's custom spelling lists, with a trust model like epinions or ebay. Selectively pick subculture word lists with words like bheer if you're into science fiction, sneakernet if you're into computers, theatre if you're into theatre.

"Theatre" is the trickiest example. Most programs don't allow taking non-preferred spellings like "theater" out of the primary list. You might get an auto-correct feature to do it, but then you have to hope auto-correct doesn't cause more problems than it solves.

The most common and straightforward case is new words. A search for "blog" on dictionary.com fails to produce a result even though the word blog has been around since 1999. A few people are already manually sharing custom spelling.

This relates to a previous posting, Google and Psychology Reality: if enough people say a word is spelled a certain way, it is spelled that way because the English language is an anarchy, and new words are constantly being invented. New bands and celebrities are always coming along. As with the spam-fighting tools that pool people's efforts and the distributed computing that fights cancer, we need to distribute custom spelling. How about an XML or .NET web service?

Posted by Chad Lundgren on Monday, July 1, 2002 (Link)


Posted by Dan Cosley Friday, May 16, 2003 at 03:23 PM

Link to a PDF file all about spelling