I owe a huge debt of gratitude to Bob Shepherd. Bob is a professional writer, editor, graphics designer, and teacher. He has also worked in the design of assessments and curriculum. You have surely seen his many comments on this blog. He is a polymath.

A few months ago, I received a note from Bob offering to edit my new book as a gesture of appreciation for my work. I have never met a Bob except over the Internet. In 2006, he helped me with my book “The Language Police.” This time, he took on what turned out to be a nearly full-time job, reading, editing, suggesting better language, deleting my many superfluous commas, and so much more. He is a true professional. The book is now almost completely finished. I don’t know yet when it will be published and must wait to hear from my editor. I don’t even know the title. What I feel sure about is that it will change the landscape. My last ask to Bob was to request his reaction to several quotes that I wanted to use at the front of the book. He shared with me his laws of quotation and attribution. He said I could share them with you.


Bob’s Shepherd’s Laws of Quotation and Attribution in the Age of the Internet
1. In the age of the Internet, all quotations should be suspect but aren’t.
2. All quotations get improved by repeated transmission.
3. Few quotations on Internet threads resemble, even remotely, their originals, in the original source materials.
4. When in doubt, attribute a quotation, randomly, to one of the following: Aristotle, da Vinci, Lincoln, Bentham, Mill, Wilde, Churchill, Yeats, Russell, Einstein, or Gandhi. Any such attribution will be widely believed, which is all that matters.
5. When making such an attribution, don’t give the source because there isn’t one.
And finally, this, which I will leave unsourced because I am too lazy to look it up:
“You can’t believe most of what you read on the Internet.”
–Abraham Lincoln