Capitalizing names and titles in our submission form
Something that continues to baffle me, in a low-key sort of way:
About two to three times a week (not enough to be a big deal, but enough that it doesn't feel like just an occasional fluke), an author submits a story to us using unusual capitalization of either their name or the story title.
Specifically, they write their name and/or the story title either in all lowercase or ALL CAPS.
In some cases, an author's name in all lowercase is an intentional choice. I've had friends who do that, and for that matter I've been signing my name to emails in all lowercase for twenty years now (though I only do that in email signatures, not other contexts); that doesn't bother me so much.
But most of the time, the author has capitalized both their name and the story title normally in the file containing the story.
So apparently, something about the submission form is causing some authors (but not most of them) to think that we want them to enter their name and/or the story title differently from how it appears on the story itself. (And not just capitalization; this happens with name variants, too.) They might enter their byline as "j zloty" in the form, but write it as "Jane Q. Zloty" on the story. They might enter the title as "THE ZLOTYS OF HARRISBURG" in the form, but write it as "The Zlotys of Harrisburg" at the top of the story.
I send them a form response saying that we'll consider their story but asking them to follow the instructions next time, and that's usually the end of it.
And the really best solution would be for the submission system to scan the story file, figure out the title and author name that are actually in the file (when present; they aren't always) (note to authors: your name and the story's title should go on the first page of your story in standard MS format, whether or not you're submitting it electronically), and use those (when available) in place of whatever the author specified in the form. The system should also detect and correct all-caps, in cases where the author does use all-caps for the story title in the story itself. Except that sometimes a story title is an acronym, or a spelled-out W-O-R-D, and all-caps is appropriate. Anyway, there's a lot of automation that I could add to the system that would make it smarter and better able to deal with malformatted input. It could even detect email addresses at the top of the story and use those (if available) in place of whatever the author entered in the form.
I suppose the other best answer would be for me to just ignore this issue, and retype author names and titles when necessary for use in our database. It only takes a few seconds. In writing this entry, I've already spent more time on this issue than I normally spend in a month of sending "please follow the instructions" autoresponses to authors.
But the capitalization thing does annoy me. And it continues to puzzle me; I feel like if I understood what it is about the form that makes authors think we want unusual capitalization, then I could fix the form and the problem would go away.
(I wrote this about three weeks ago, but neglected to post it.)