Here’s a new fad in written english that makes no sense, the triple question mark (???).  And not just the triple, but the quadruple, quintuple, and so on.

Long have I noticed this curiosity permeating email and even instant messaging, but I have recently seen it used in more formal presentations such as marketing literature and advertising, personal letters, and even a company report.

At first I thought this ridiculousness was meant to convey emphasis or the importance of a question.  And to many users I am sure it is intended as such.  But more recently I have seen people using it at the end of every question they type. With no apparent intent of emphasis.  Why?  Why??? WHY???????

Exempla Gratis: “Is this the route we have decided on??? Has anybody conferred with management before reaching this decision???  Have we considered the effect on our inventory?????” (taken from an email I received at work recently).  Note the increased use of marks for the last question.  That one must have really been chapping his ass, huh?  All those curious marks stacked up meaninglessly like a constipated inquisitor!

If you are a user of this convention, here’s some news…one question mark is enough. A question does not become more questioning with the use of extra question marks.  The fact that it takes more time to add multiple marks instead of just one, makes this phenomena all the more perplexing.  Not only is it ridiculous, and meaningless, but it wastes time. Especially considering the required use of the shift key.

So then, regardless of the question, please, use only one question mark. If you want to show emphasis or importance, you may – informally, of course – use the question mark followed by an exclamation point (?!).  There!  Now you’ve done it.  You’ve asked a question and you’ve emphasized its importance.

When typing that next question, just remember the words of Willy Wonka, “One is enough for everybody.”

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