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Alex Hillman

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Does coworking have a hyphen?

2 minute read
by Alex Hillman

Some would say, “Tomato, Tomato, Potato, Potato, Let’s call the whole thing off”.

But the coworking “brand” is undeniably powerful at this point in time. International press, global community growth, and an extremely devoted collection of leaders helping continue to drive things forward.

So from that “brand recognition” perspective, I don’t think I’m out of line for desiring consistency. The problem? “Coworking” is not in the dictionary, nor is it in most spell check. So when reporters – who tend to be the guiltiest of adding the hyphen – go through their editorial process I’m not surprised when “coworking” gets corrected to “co-working”.

UPDATE: Stef Lewandowski found a Wordie entry from coworking’s coiner, Brad Neuberg. So there you have it.

That still doesn’t excuse it. Think of it as a proper name – just because my name isn’t in the dictionary doesn’t mean I wouldn’t be upset if you misspelled it!

I’ve ranted and raved about this on twitter, the coworking google group, and mostly in person (those rants are the most animated, I assure you). This weekend I decided to do something.

Step one:

I just launched http://doescoworkinghaveahyphen.com/

Sure, it’s a tounge in cheek and shameless ripoff of the now infamous IsTwitterDown.com made by Ryan King. Thanks for the inspiration (and XHTML/CSS), Ryan.

Step two: make it easy to add coworking to dictionaries

I’m admittedly a technologist, and see the hurdle of “contact Merriam Webster” as a pain in the ass. Instead, I’m proposing (based on a suggestion from Jesse) that we make available a “dictionary patch” to popular dictionary files: Microsoft Word, OSX’s native dictionary, and Firefox seem like good places to start. Major blogging platforms that have spellcheck (ahem_WORDPRESS_ahem) I’d like to make these as close to “one click” patches, if possible.

Better yet, I’d love for someone to write a non-malicious virus that adds the word “coworking” to any native system dictionaries. Just kidding. Maybe.

Step three: spread the word

If you spot “coworking” with that dreadful hyphen anywhere, drop a link to the website http://doescoworkinghaveahyphen.com/ in the comments. Maybe a badge campaign? Who knows.

Ultimately, I hope that this activity catches the eye of Merriam Webster and they take it as a cue to make the change on their own…I consider that the ultimate metric of success.

Care to join in on the fun? Help contribute to any of the goals I’ve set above.

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Hey, thanks for reading!

Alex Hillman I am always thinking about the intersection of people, relationships, trust and business. I founded Indy Hall in 2006, making us one of oldest fully independent coworking communities in the world. This site is packed with the lessons and examples I’ve learned along the way. You can find me on Twitter, too! 🐦 Say hi.