RE: Old thread, hopefully new spin on "allow" v. "enable."

Subject: RE: Old thread, hopefully new spin on "allow" v. "enable."
From: "Grant, Christopher" <CGrant -at- glhec -dot- org>
To: TECHWR-L <techwr-l -at- lists -dot- raycomm -dot- com>
Date: Tue, 7 Mar 2000 10:12:34 -0600

This is an interesting question and though I'm no "authority" on this, I
feel compelled to comment.

> -----Original Message-----
> From: Ackerson, Allan [mailto:aackerson -at- logicon -dot- com]
> Sent: Tuesday, March 07, 2000 8:57 AM
> To: TECHWR-L
> Subject: RE: Old thread, hopefully new spin on "allow" v. "enable."
>
>
> What's wrong with "lets"?

Nothing is wrong with "lets" - but IMHO "to let" is equivalent to "to
allow."

Which brings us back to the original question. I think that both "allow"
and "enable" are functionally interchangeable, but there are definitely
different connotations associated with either word. As an end user, if I
read the sentence "This procedure allows one to manipulate the data," I feel
as if the application is a "black box" that I simply use to stick something
in one end to get something out the other. It doesn't feel as if I am in
*control* of the application, rather, the application is telling *me* what I
can do, and when. Conversely, if I read "This procedure enables one to
manipulate the data," then I feel as if I am in control of the application
and lo! - look here, here's yet another procedure to help!

From my standpoint as an entry-level tech writer, I want to do everything
possible to avoid alienating the user who is reading my documentation. A
user who feels intimidated by the documentation is a user who isn't learning
or referencing as quickly as he or she could be. Thus, I believe it is in
the tech writer's best interests to cultivate enthusiasm in whatever small
ways we can. This incidence of word choice is, I think, one of those small
ways.

-Chris Grant
TWIT
cgrant -at- glhec -dot- org




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