"Word count" error

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"Word count" error

Postby ERR » Sat Feb 02, 2008 3:50 am

Now here is a strange problem,
I decided to write a letter to the newspaper, in the newspaper it says less than 200 words, so I wrote a short letter and at the end counted the words 311 I thought "drats" it does not look like 300 words to me, without deleting any sentences chopped out a few words replaced some words for fewer words, and before long got it down to 294 words, <drats again> so I closed down the file, thinking often when I go back to a story I wrote I find words missing, wrong words used, errors, just to name three problems, and I was right, I waited a couple of hours opened up the file found a word or two missing from a sentence, I counted the words again and got 140 words, is this new maths or what?

I could of finger counted the words, but it was easier to think drats.

Before I posted here I did a posting search on "Word count" and found posting on "Word count over counts words"

============== part two ============
The above was type out in firefox I copy and pasted in to openoffice and got 165 word, closed down the program, reopened and still got only 165, maybe when you compose a letter in openoffice it shows up the wrong count.
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Re: "Word count" error

Postby foxcole » Sat Feb 02, 2008 4:41 am

Well... I'm sorry to say this, but for all the effort you put into typing that, all it tells us is that you have a problem. It doesn't actually describe the problem... meaning, it doesn't tell us what you originally typed or what you changed in any of the interim steps, so we have no way to recreate your results.

Aside from that, you might want to call the paper and verify the method they use for word counts. The word-count utility in most word processors isn't the one most reputable publishers use. The automated method varies from processor to processor and uses different rules for hyphenated words; all-cap words or initialisms; words in headers, footers and text frames; numeric constructions with decimal points; single-letter words and articles; and all the rest of the varieties of glyph combinations and objects that form written languages and electronic documents.

Word counters, like grammar checkers, vary considerably by the rules they use, and of course none of those rules can mirror real-world language. Using short words usually means using more words, so a low-level vocabulary results in a higher word count, and a high-level vocabulary may result in a lower word count. Overuse of articles (a, an, the, of), passive voice, and gerunds increase word count. I could go on, but I'm sure that's already more than you wanted to read.

Back to the point... unless you can provide concrete examples, there's no way of knowing what exactly happened with the word count. Can you recreate it?
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Re: "Word count" error

Postby ERR » Sat Feb 02, 2008 8:00 am

Well snap I find your reply more completely useless,
I have told this forum there is a problem, just before I posted it I found someone else had a problem.
now we know there is a problem, we know not to trust the "word count"


Not only that now I think this forum now has a problem, [stopped in consideration to the moderator]
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Re: "Word count" error

Postby Bhikkhu Pesala » Sat Feb 02, 2008 10:09 am

I have to agree with Foxcole. You haven't given us enough information to solve the problem. Stop ranting and start thinking. Different word-processors will give slightly different counts depending on what they define as a word. Select individual sentences of the article and do a count on the selection. Manually count the sentence and see if it is correct.
ERR wrote:I decided to write a letter to the newspaper, in the newspaper it says less than 200 words, so I wrote a short letter and at the end counted the words 311 I thought "drats" it does not look like 300 words to me, without deleting any sentences chopped out a few words replaced some words for fewer words, and before long got it down to 294 words, <drats again> so I closed down the file, thinking often when I go back to a story I wrote I find words missing, wrong words used, errors, just to name three problems, and I was right, I waited a couple of hours opened up the file found a word or two missing from a sentence, I counted the words again and got 140 words, is this new maths or what?

I could of finger counted the words, but it was easier to think drats.

Before I posted here I did a posting search on "Word count" and found posting on "Word count over counts words"

Oo Word Count 173 words

The thread you referred to, but didn't give a link to, also did not give us enough information to go on, and did not follow up.
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Re: "Word count" error

Postby ERR » Sat Feb 02, 2008 10:14 am

Look mate I came here to tell you a problem not to get abuse I told you A PRoblem i am sorry I cAN not norrow the problem done any further

what would you like to tio do gop aout and splash out on microsoft word and see ifg thewy have a word count problem

grow up next tim,e I finf ya proble I will not tell the group then open office wil be riddleted with bugs
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Re: "Word count" error

Postby Bhikkhu Pesala » Sat Feb 02, 2008 10:28 am

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Re: "Word count" error

Postby ERR » Sat Feb 02, 2008 10:41 am

Sorry to lose my cool I can not sand idiots, no I am sorry they are the idiots not me.


I WROTE A LETTER AND CLOSED THE FILE DOWN WITH A WORD COUNT OF 294 IF OPEN OFFICE 2.3 WAS 100% IT SHOULD OF REOPENED WITH A WORD COUNT THE SAME. OR MORE CORRECTLY THE CORRECT NUMBER BOTH TIMES IT DOES NOT MATTER IF I USED NUMBERS, SPECIAL CHARACTERS, "F" WORDS, WHAT EVER ELSE, NO MATTER WHAT I USED THE NUMBER COUNT SHOULD OF BEEN THE SAME BOTH TIMES

ON REFLECTION THE ONLY ERROR I MADE I FORGOT TO SAY IT WAS VERSION 2.3.0 BUT IF IT HAD OF BEEN A OLDER VERSION I WOULD NOT OF WASTED MY TIME HERE I WOULD OF JUST INSTALLED A NEW VERSION AND SEE IF THE PROBLEM WAS FIXED.

I AM SORRY I HIGHLIGHT A PROBLEM, NEXT TIME I SEE A PROBLEM I WILL BAD MOUTH OPENOFFICE TO MY FRIENDS, AND TELL THEM HOW THIS FORUM TREADS OTHER MEMBERS THAT STARTED OFF TO MEAN NO HARM TO ANYBODY ELSE.
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Re: "Word count" error

Postby Tommy » Sat Feb 02, 2008 6:25 pm

try to count these words:

GET OUT OF THIS FORUM !!! DOGS NOT ALLOWED !!!
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Re: "Word count" error

Postby acknak » Sat Feb 02, 2008 7:32 pm

Ok, where's my referee's whistle?

Please stop this pointless sniping and criticizing. If you can add something constructive, then just move on.

No one can be removed or kicked out of the forum--at least not for simply posting a complaint--but this is not the kind of personal comments and criticism that any of us want here.

If you want to continue this topic, I suggest you consider dropping the personal remarks and focus on the problem.

If you want a starting place, ERR, why don't you give us an example of a response to your original question that you would have found helpful. I think that would help us understand what you're expecting and how Fox's response seemed unhelpful to you.

And please, everyone, if you can't add something constructive and respectful, just leave it alone. More blaming and finger pointing is not going to do accomplish anything.
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Re: "Word count" error

Postby foxcole » Sat Feb 02, 2008 11:02 pm

acknak wrote:And please, everyone, if you can't add something constructive and respectful, just leave it alone. More blaming and finger pointing is not going to do accomplish anything.

Well said, acknak. Thank you!

ERR, I still would suggest calling the newspaper and finding out what method they use for word counts. Some use automated methods like Word's or Writer's. However, many publishers, including newspapers, use an estimation method based on a very specific line width and font face and size (often Courier 12pt), along with the total number of lines. This will often give very different results than a word counter such as the one in Writer.

So whether or not the word counter in Writer works the way you think it should, you'll need to know what the newspaper expects in order to submit an acceptable letter.

To narrow down the perceived problems with word count, we need to be able to re-create your steps and see what changes you made and the results in the word counter. It's possible (for the reasons I unhelpfully and perhaps unclearly tried to point out earlier) there is a logical reason for the differences just based on content.

Can you please recreate the problem and write down each step, and post those results? You don't have to reveal the contents of the letter you wrote, just try reproducing it with nonsense text or with something quoted from another source. Just running some quick tests, I can't produce any error in word count, so again, we need more specific detail from you.

Also please keep in mind that this is a user-to-user forum, so all we can do here is try to reproduce problems someone is seeing, and either explain what's going on or confirm it as a bug.
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Re: "Word count" error

Postby Hagar Delest » Sat Feb 02, 2008 11:22 pm

Please ERR and Tommy, have a look again at the Survival Guide for the forum again. Especially that one: No flames.

So here we are. First flame thread in this forum :cry:

Tommy, I'm sure you realize now that your post is not so constructive. It only deserves you eventually. Please edit it and do something, either apologize or blank it. I'm not for deleting myself (as moderator) such posts. We're grown ups, let's assume what we do and say here.

ERR, we're all volunteers here, users trying to help other users. You've been told that word processors had different ways of counting words, why insult the ones who tried to give some information and took the time to answer you (because they thought it would help you). You even saw that word count in OOo has some particularities (if you've followed my link to the Issue Tracker).

So yes, there may be a problem and we're all here to try to find it. Doing so will let us improve OOo so that others users don't have this problem anymore. So please help us help you. What I understand is that you closed the file and when you opened it again, the word count was different, is it correct? Could you post the letter? Perhaps it has some particularities that trigger an odd behavior. Can you describe how you've modified the file? What format do you use?
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Re: "Word count" error

Postby MikeHenry » Sun Feb 03, 2008 2:42 am

I don't want to fuel this fire, but what was the original problem?
It sounds to me like half the text was missing from the document when he reopened it,
but he never actually says the word count was wrong.
So is he complaining that text is disappearing or the word count is wrong?
If the word count is off then how far off was it?
A few percent is normal, but if it was off by 50% like he's implying then something's way wrong.
I just did a word count of a 4 page document and the count was exact, other than format variations that foxcole mentions.
And I've never had a document remove words, it moves pictures all the time, but doesn't remove anything.
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Re: "Word count" error

Postby acknak » Sun Feb 03, 2008 4:53 am

If I understood correctly, the problem was that ERR manually removed text based on the word count that Writer showed, trimming the text to meet the maximum submission length. After a couple of rounds of removing some text, and having the word count change only slightly, the word count suddenly showed a far smaller number, leading ERR to believe that the first counts were incorrect.

It seems to me that Writer has had a number of problems with the word count feature over several releases. I really don't understand why it seems to be so hard to get this feature right. I can only guess that it comes from the fact that Writer tries to do the word count "in the background" and that perhaps it gets interrupted, or has some other dynamic issue that can give the wrong counts under specific circumstances that are hard to nail down. It's a feature that many many people depend on and it has to be made right.

It is unfortunate that this question went off track, as we could have perhaps learned something about the problem. Without more details, I don't see that there's much chance of that.

OOo 2.3.0 did have more than it's share of problems, so I would wonder if this isn't another one.
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Re: "Word count" error

Postby foxcole » Sun Feb 03, 2008 5:55 am

acknak wrote:I really don't understand why it seems to be so hard to get this feature right.

But, acknak, no software gets this feature right. Until we have a proper fuzzy-logic software that can understand and reproduce and apply real-world rules of language---no matter what language---a word-count or grammar tool or spell-checker is limited entirely to whatever logic humans can program into binary form as rules of language.

The saddest outcome of MS's attempts to do so is that people tend to regard computers as infallible and word-count utilities as equally infallible, by some phantom baseline measure that has no foundation in the real world. It's an agonizingly frustrating situation for people like me who are versed in both technology and language, when the majority of the world is grounded in either one or the other, and expectations on both sides are unrealistic.

But technology does creep closer, bit by bit (pardon the pun), as it improves upon itself. That's the way of progress.

We haven't arrived at the ideal language level yet, but there's no indication that we should actually want technology to process language information the same way (or better) that humans can. I personally believe that true language capability in machines is beyond the reach of technologies within the next ten years... but I also believe that even if machines can be taught the finely nuanced rules of language, into which culture is inextricably bound, that social, cultural, and economic balances will limit or eliminate such capabilities (very likely some time after those capabilities are offered to the public). Language is intrinsically human, and we humans could not, or perhaps should not, or perhaps cannot, promote any utilities of machines as a benefit in processing language. Computers are too limited, yet, even if we could imbue them with our personal culture.

Language isn't limited to one dictionary, one style guide and one set of rules. And computers are limited by inability to fully parse and process and understand language.

Word counts aren't, either. Who should decide what is or isn't a word?
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Re: "Word count" error

Postby Tommy » Sun Feb 03, 2008 2:44 pm

ERR insulted users of this forum calling them idiots.

i will edit my post only after he apologizes for that statement.
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Re: "Word count" error

Postby floris v » Sun Feb 03, 2008 3:28 pm

I'm off for one day and you start a flame war? :cry: I'm disgusted that you couldn't wait for my return. :lol:

Seriously, Tommy, you should perhaps apologise to the other forum members for posting something very embarrassing and sub-standard.
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Re: "Word count" error

Postby Hagar Delest » Sun Feb 03, 2008 3:37 pm

Tommy wrote:ERR insulted users of this forum calling them idiots.

That's not a reason to insult those who insult also, they bring you to their level, not a very good one.

Everybody in this forum knows that the insulted ones are part of the core volunteers members and their knowledge of OOo and also other word processors is very good. So insulting them was not the best move to do, especially if you want others to be on your side.

I'm fed up with this thread so I lock it. If ERR wants to have a discussion about his word count problem, he knows how to start a thread now.

 Edit: BTW, found an interesting site for such experiments: http://www.lipsum.com/
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