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Unfortunately, people often seem to reverse these two.

Hmmmm. If people often SEEM to reverse these two, then you're implying that sometimes they clearly incontrovertibly actually DO reverse them? Come on now. No waffling. They do or they don't. ;-)

This is exactly the problem I have!  I have to stop in the middle of reading and try to figure out whether they are actually reversing the two (consistently) or whether they are merely confused -- maybe using the abbreviations at random  -- or what.  Sometimes I reach the conclusion that you mention -- that the people have clearly reversed the abbreviations.  Sometimes it's not at all clear to me what's going on, and I just think they are confused.  Maybe they SEEM to reverse them, but I can't be sure.  Sometimes I see a case like "Faculty should report all research activities (i.e., publications) to the Dean's office" and I wonder whether "publications" is a gloss on "research activities" and spells out what that really means (in which case I take the "i.e." as "i.e.") or whether the "i.e." is a confusion for "e.g.", where "publications" is just an example of a research activity that should be reported.  So, I think you're right that people either actually are reversing these two, or they only seem to.  But figuring out the difference is really hard, especially in cases in which I see only a limited sample of their text.  

Unfortunately, this sort of thing is very common.  (Just yesterday, I had to change someone's "i.e." to "e.g." since in that case it was pretty clear what they meant.  Other cases are harder to figure out.)  

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