The Oxford Comma Controversy. Needed and neccessary or not.
Unsure as to what the Oxford Comma is?
Well it could help you in solving a dispute.
Yesterday in America some dairy drivers
went to court and won over overtime pay
because of the meaning derived from the Oxford comma.
A great example of understanding Grammar can help.
"She invited her father, a tuba player, and several ballerinas."
Is her father a tuba player, or was one invited in addition to her father?
Without the serial comma it's clear that her father isn't the tuba player, but with it, it's unclear. Unfortunately, both using the serial comma and omitting it can lead to confusion. I'd say it's a stylistic preference.
I am a huge fan of the Oxford comma. (I haven't clicked your link yet.)
I am staunchly descriptivist in my approach to language, save in a few cases. The Oxford comma is one of those cases where I get picky. So very many strange things can come about when it is omitted. Some of my favorite examples are not appropriate for Duolingo so I won't example them here. But, I get a feeling that jackelliot has an example in his link.
Edit: Here is also an example I got from Buzzfeed:
Well, that can still be expressed without ambiguity with the Oxford comma:
"Tim Tebow thanked Elsa, God, and his mother"
Just like the example given by Usagi can be expressed without ambiguity without the Oxford comma:
"Tim Tebow thanked God, his parents and Ms. Trunchbull."
Thank you for telling us the other side of things, but I don't think we need a fierce battle over the Oxford comma in Duolingo. The best thing that can happen is somebody feels stupid because they were wrong, and the worst is that people are hurt or that the situation can escalate and Duolingo no longer is a friendly community. I suggest we keep our opinions to ourselves. =)
Disagreement in itself can be healthy and the Guidelines acknowledge that staff welcome it here. How one disagrees in various contexts is important. On Duolingo, staff outlines the approach that they want us to take:
We come together from across the world at varying language levels with the same goal in mind - to learn. Curiosity, questioning, and cultural understanding are something we celebrate. Be respectful of others and where they’re coming from.
I think that the best answer on whether or not to use the Oxford Comma depends on context. If it's ambiguous without it, use it. If it's ambiguous with it, don't use it. If it's not ambiguous either way, it's your choice.
A NY Times article about a lawsuit involving the Oxford comma: