Grammar Creep

So . . . I was doing some construction work on my Web site (more on this below) and blog, and I found myself typing the words Web site in an Update to an old post (this one, if you must know). As I typed the words in the update, I wondered–because I often forget things like this–whether it was Web site or web site. I googled the term, and among other things, I found this, a post by the Grammarist:

A few editorially conservative publications still use the two-word Web site, but this relic of the 1990s has fallen out of favor throughout the English-speaking world. The one-word, uncapitalized website now prevails by an overwhelming margin.

Now, given that I’d just been updating my own post about checking sources, I decided to check the Grammarist’s claims–he or she didn’t give any sources, though s/he did give some examples, all of which date from 2011 to 2012. (Based on this, I assume the undated post also dates to 2012.)

I have a favorite place to go to do this kind of thing: The Corpus of Contemporary American English or COCA. Unfortunately, I just realized, apparently COCA’s database only includes words through 2012; as a result, it’s difficult to test the Grammarist’s claim about what’s happening right “now.” Today. 2014. That said, I could test his/her claim as of 2012. Drum roll . . .

And the winner is! . . . . Web site or web site at 15,245 hits–my COCA search returned both versions in one batch. (A quick and very unscientific scan of the results tells me that it’s about 2/3rds to 1/3rd Web site to web site.) The one-word version, website, comes in at about half that, 7,318.

The Grammarist was correct about The New York Times. It’s Web site all the way, but so is The Washington Post–again, that’s as of 2012(Though I did a search of The Washington Post’s Web site–web site, website, who can keep track–and discovered The Post must be of two minds in 2014 since I found instances of both the two-word, capitalized version and the one-word version. Oh well.)

Me? I’m in a quandary. Is mine an “editorially conservative” blog much like the politically liberal Times? Or should I position myself on the vanguard of the one-word, uncapitalized movement? I think I’ll stick with The New York Times on this one. Though I’m no prescriptionist, I do tend to move slowly when it comes to the English language. The AP Style Guide disagrees with me, The Times, and The (bi-polar) Post, by the way.