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It would be nice to see a built-in spell checker into the main text-panel for posts. Every time I post here or Stack Overflow I quickly open up Gmail, paste my post there, and use its spell checker to make sure I didn't make any stupid mistakes. I know other services have these types of features, and it would be nice to see Stack Overflow have one as well.

Agree/disagree?

(BTW, I found two small mistakes for this short post.)

I know I made a comment about this on ChrisF's answer, but I thought that I should also mention it here in the question. I know there are many third-party tools to add spell checker functionality to Stack Overflow. But some (if not many) people out there do not have these tools. They are either at work (like me), or some other place where they using a machine that is not owned by them, or they aren't power users and just don't have these tools installed.

If Stack Exchange becomes used for other non-technical sites, then you will probably have to count on the fact that people are using Internet Explorer 6 or something just as bad. That's why it would just be nice to have a built-in spelling tool. Again, it may not be worth it, but I think it would be interesting to discuss it at least.

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All new browsers have built-in spell checking now so this is unnecessary. –  staticx Jan 20 '10 at 1:07
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@Changeling: Not Internet Explorer 9. –  Billy ONeal Jun 20 '11 at 18:27
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@Billy: You are right. I did not know that last year. –  staticx Jun 20 '11 at 18:47
    
@0A0D - Only superfluous if there is no UI enforcement of checking your spelling / accepting system selected changes (See meta.stackexchange.com/questions/165970/…) –  user66001 Feb 2 '13 at 10:22

10 Answers 10

Which browser to you use?

Firefox, Chrome, Safari and IE (version 10+) all have spell-checkers either built in or as extensions which I (have) to use. Incorrect words get highlighted with a red underline and the context menu provides the correct spelling.

I didn't mean to imply that the SO team shouldn't implement a spell checker because certain browsers support one natively or relatively easily through extensions/plugins. Though if they do they'll have to ensure it can cope with both US and "proper" English ;)

I just wanted to point out that there were existing possibilities that Eric might have missed for whatever reason. I know that I've learnt things that were obvious to others and they were surprised I didn't know what they knew.

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+1 for using Firefox (beat me to it.) –  gnostradamus Jul 9 '09 at 15:47
    
Actually posted from Chrome ;) –  ChrisF Jul 9 '09 at 15:48
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I use Firefox, but I mostly use SO at work where I am using Madreva Linux, in which firefox's spellchecker is not available for whatever reason. I know many can just download a plug-in for a spell checker, but its my option that you shouldn't need/hope for a third party to do the work that you can do yourself. Just my 2 cents. –  Eric Koslow Jul 9 '09 at 15:56
    
+1 Just what I was going to say. –  cletus Jul 9 '09 at 16:00
    
Safari (on a Mac at least) has one too –  Kyle Cronin Jul 9 '09 at 16:20
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@Eric Koslow: 1st, I believe it's called Mandriva. 2nd, what version of Mandriva? It does work on FF under Linux. I was using FF2 under Gentoo a week ago and it had a spellchecker. I'm using FF3 and Chrome on Arch, Gentoo, Ubuntu and Debian and they have a spellchecker. I'm sure you can turn it on fairly simply. 3rd, a spellchecker could be added to SO, what about the rest of the web? 4th, I don't want to have to use Greasemonkey to remove a script that I don't want either hogging my system nor fighting my browser of choice. 5th, people here should know how to enable the builtin spellchecker. –  perbert Jan 19 '10 at 0:41
    
ieSpell works fine in IE8 as that's what I use at work. When I'm testing IE8 at home I use the spell checker on the Google Toolbar. Both fine options for use in IE6-8. (I seriously hope he's not referring to any earlier version...) –  AnonJr Jan 19 '10 at 12:20
    
I have to recommend SpeckIE instead -- it does on-the-fly spell check. IESpell does only offline spell check. –  Billy ONeal Jun 20 '11 at 18:27
    
I think some people are missing the point - People have the spell checkers at their disposal, but don't use them! If spelling (or grammar) is not important for the SE community, so be it, but to enforce quality answers that contain basic spelling/grammar, some sort of control needs to be added to SE's UI. –  user66001 Feb 2 '13 at 18:47
    
I believe IE 10 added in built-in spell-checking. I certainly see it working on IE 11. –  Troyen Aug 4 at 22:48

Site statistics should make it clear if implementing a spell checker is a worthwhile endeavor. Given the user base and its browser choice it may or may not be worth the effort. If a user is really worried about their spelling they always have the option of pasting their question/answer/comment in their word processor of choice for spell/grammar checking. That said, editing for grammar is encouraged I don't see why spelling shouldn't also be encouraged.

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I think some people are missing the point - People have the spell checkers at their disposal, but don't use them! If spelling (or grammar) is not important for the SE community, so be it, but to enforce quality answers that contain basic spelling/grammar, some sort of control needs to be added to SE's UI. –  user66001 Feb 2 '13 at 10:19

In the long run this is something best implemented in the browser - it provides a better native interface and prevents the same functionality being duplicated by many sites.

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I think some people are missing the point - People have the spell checkers at their disposal, but don't use them! If spelling (or grammar) is not important for the SE community, so be it, but to enforce quality answers that contain basic spelling/grammar, some sort of control needs to be added to SE's UI. –  user66001 Feb 2 '13 at 10:20

Are there examples of working spell-checkers built into a web site?

Without the ability to update the spell check library and with all the possible variations world-wide within a single language, I wonder how effective a spell checker built into a community site would be. That, and when I've seen spell-checkers built in to Rich Text Editing textarea fields, I've always been disappointed.

Gmail has a spellchecker - I think that it stores new words in a cookie. In any case, the next time I connected, my "Ignore Word" words were once again listed as misspelled.

I would agree with @Kragen - keep the checker close to the user where the user can adapt the spell checking.

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GMail has a spell checker. –  Michael Maddox Jan 19 '10 at 18:41
    
Wordpress also has a good spell checker –  Fábio Sep 23 '10 at 18:27
    
Yahoo answers (No comparison being made here) has a spell checker also. Pity it doesn't put more obstacles between the spelling-inhibited user and a posted question. See my suggestions on this question for basic ideas to address things like non dictionary words. Though not sure what your point is about different languages. This is an English site. –  user66001 Feb 2 '13 at 10:15

I truly doubt if many people will actually invoke such spell checker, assuming that will be a button that needs to be pressed to run it.

(In the browsers I use, the spell check is on-the-fly, marking words as I type. Well, it's actually a word check, not a full blown spell check one might see in word processors. Safari is even smart enough to figure out what language I'm using.)

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Not sure about this OP, but I was suggesting a soft enforced spelling and/not grammar check. –  user66001 Feb 2 '13 at 10:21

What language? I know Stack Overflow is English only, but Stack Exchange is by no means. And would you enforce color or colour? What when in code?

It would be much more helpful to give people a reason to have their employers update to a good browser than adding all useful functionality to old insecure browsers, duplicating modern browser functionality.

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We only need english, there isn't any other language activity here. –  Fábio Sep 23 '10 at 18:32
    
@Fábio - Well, in area51 there are several proposals for sites based in other languages, or such using multiple languages, like French/English translation. –  malach Sep 24 '10 at 9:43
    
That's French/English translation, if anyone's interested :) –  Benjol Nov 22 '10 at 5:58
    
I think some people are missing the point - People have the spell checkers at their disposal, but don't use them! If spelling (or grammar) is not important for the SE community, so be it, but to enforce quality answers that contain basic spelling/grammar, some sort of control needs to be added to SE's UI. –  user66001 Feb 2 '13 at 10:18

As a non-native English speaker I support this request. Every time I post I need to copy the text and paste it elsewhere to check the spelling.

Since I speak Portuguese, it's common to misspell a few words because English and Portuguese have a lot of common words with minor spelling differences.

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Use chrome, it has spell checking built-in for every textbox –  jmfsg Sep 23 '10 at 18:38
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yse tis wlel goood. –  Benjamin Sep 13 '11 at 14:14
    
@Benjamin - Precisely the point :) –  user66001 Feb 2 '13 at 18:51

I'd be in favor of such a proposal, so that we can differentiate between people who have bad spelling because they aren't native English speakers, and those who just don't care, which is rude to the readers of the question/answer. It'd answer my question of Is atrocious English a possible sign of rudeness?

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I'm for the spell checker especially now that there are less technical sites. Many of the users of those sites might not know what a plug-in is.

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I think a mechanism to help with correct spelling and grammar would increase the value of the SE sites overall as this would make the community appear more professional.
It would also help non-English speakers better phrase their questions... and to learn the language.

Whether or not SE should take a leadership position in this, or hope that browsers eventually provide that functionality, should be up to their marketing and business development departments (IMHO, of course).

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I don't see how a spell checker would help non-English speakers better phrase their questions. At best it would give them choices for correct spellings and at worst they would choose the incorrect "correct" spelling and make it even more confusing. –  Daniel DiPaolo Jun 20 '11 at 18:33
    
@Daniel DiPaolo as a non-English speaker I can guarantee that you are absolutely WRONG. There are many, many levels of "non-English" speakers. These are the times where downvoting comments would come handy. –  yms Jun 20 '11 at 18:43
    
@yms what part of the statement is wrong? –  Daniel DiPaolo Jun 20 '11 at 18:44
    
@Daniel All of it? What makes you think you can speak for me on what can help me better phrase my questions/answers and what cannot? –  yms Jun 20 '11 at 18:55
    
@Daniel DePaolo: don't forget the grammar checker is suggested as well. –  Telis Duvoir Jun 20 '11 at 18:56
    
@Telis yes, I didn't address that because it wasn't in the original proposal –  Daniel DiPaolo Jun 20 '11 at 18:57
    
@yms I didn't say it couldn't help you, I said I don't see how it would. A spell-checker, at best (by definition) does no more than provide a list of alternate spellings for words it doesn't understand. I don't really see how that helps with phrasing things. –  Daniel DiPaolo Jun 20 '11 at 18:58
    
@Daniel An incorrect spelling may change the meaning of a phrase entirely, but I am sure you already know that. It is not the same to generate a correct spelling/right word from scratch as choosing it from a list. Recognizing is easier than generating. –  yms Jun 20 '11 at 19:14
    
+1000 - Exactly the point Telis Devoir –  user66001 Feb 2 '13 at 10:17

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