Although The Chicago Manual of Style has long been regarded as the bible of people who work with words, it wasn’t until recently that these people had a place to meet. Earlier this month, the Press launched The Chicago Manual of Style Online Forum, an internet home for subscribers wishing to kvetch, commiserate, and trade secrets about all things writing, editing, and publishing.
The historic first post read: “I’m afraid to post here. Could there be a more intimidating place to post?” (The response: “Fear and intimidation were also my first thoughts when I considered posting here. Then I decided that at least some of you were probably sitting around in your pajamas with your hair uncombed. It took some of the pressure off.”) Since the launch, CMOS Online subscribers have adopted the latter sentiment, and the Forum has received hundreds of posts about such topics as gender bias in language, the virtues of the semicolon, and the extent to which copyeditors should perform fact checking.
Today, our friends at Inside Higher Ed published a feature story that asks if the Forum is, in fact, “the scariest forum on the internet.” (We hope not.) As reporter Serena Golden writes:
Numerous Chicago Manual acolytes have already managed to overcome their trepidation over airing thoughts in such august grammatical company. While they’ve no doubt been aided in this feat by the lure of $100 in free books (which the press has promised to award at random to one of those who post within 30 days of the forum’s launch), forum users also expressed delight over having “a place to ask questions and enjoy a sense of community with fellow writers and editors,” as one commenter put it.
And that’s exactly the goal of the forum, according to the University of Chicago Press’s reference promotions manager, Ellen Gibson: “What we hope to build is a sense of community among our subscribers.”
According to Gibson, many Chicago Manual subscribers are freelance copy editors and others who frequently work from home or in scattered locations where they may not have anyone “to talk about style issues with, or problems that come up in their daily work.”