Often we are hearing that such-and-such spelling, phraseology, etc is incorrect. Person X made a grammar error, pronunciation error, orthography error, styling error, other sorts of language error.
I'm not sure if I understand this.
Superficially, it would seem to me that linguists are there to study a language and not to create it. The language was created a long time ago by our forefathers; and is constantly being re-created and modified by those who speak it.
Linguists may decide and announce that such-and-such spelling is correct while such-and-such spelling is a common error; but the very phrase 'common error' seems to me to be self-refuting. If it's common then it means people speak and write in this way; and if this is how people speak and write then this is how the language is being spoken so this is the language. The linguists may resort to arguments from the language's history (eg "such-and-such form has never been used for this purpose"), but the language is an evolving structure rather than a static one.
Ultimately, it would seem to me, if people decide to speak or write in any given way (that is if an error is common), the linguists may declare such use of the language incorrect but this will only lead to the typical map vs territory issue. Worst case, the linguists are ignored; best case, the language diverges into its "as the linguists see fit" variation, spoken by very few people, and its "as people actually speak" variation. Typically, however, the linguists will have to back off eventually.
Note that I would exclude non-native speakers from the body of all people speaking any given language and collectively deciding about its features (although it's kind of interesting to watch how non-native English speakers mangle English - do we already observe the birth of a yet another English variation - Broken English - natively spoken by non-native speakers?)
And still I must be incorrect because it is commonly accepted to correct native speakers' common errors regarding their use of their language.
What am I missing here?