RE: Humor in technical writing

Subject: RE: Humor in technical writing
From: Mike Adams <Mike_Adams -at- summithq -dot- com>
To: 'TECHWR-L' <techwr-l -at- lists -dot- raycomm -dot- com>
Date: Thu, 28 Sep 2000 12:59:30 -0400

Sounds like an excellent Darwin Awards entry. I'm a senior tech writer and I
won't condemn humor in a tech manual. The audience, material, and the
writer/editor make that determination.


Cheers,

Mike.

-----Original Message-----
From: Barry Kieffer [mailto:bkieffer -at- ims -dot- com]
Sent: Thursday, September 28, 2000 12:09 PM
To: TECHWR-L
Subject: RE: Humor in technical writing


As any senior technical writer will tell you:

Humor in technical writing? No, don't do it.

Why? I will list some real life examples.

As reported in the STC magazine a few years ago, humor in a computer manual
led
to a death and a law suit. In this case the computer manufacturer created a
humorous guide to how to connect your computer and all of the peripheral
stuff.
In this case some empty-headed degenerate jammed a screwdriver into the case
and
electrocuted their sorry a**. It all went to hell when the lawyers got
involved.
The bottom line that came out in the court proceedings was that by using
humor
the manufacturer gave the impression that there was nothing dangerous. The
humor
"lulled" the user into a disregard for safety, or some such. You can search
the
STC archives and can probably find the story.

Another example is that what I think is funny, Jim or Jane Lunchbox does
not. I
find some examples of humor condecending. That is why I only own one
"Dummies"
book (FrameMaker). When I pick up a manual, reference, or text, it is
because I
want (need) to find out something. I hate it when I have to sift through
some
useless humorous drivel to get to the information I am looking for.

Ask your corporate lawyer, ISO auditor, QA/QC person, or safety person, if
they
think you should use humor. Wanna guess their answer?

Bottom line: DO NOT USE HUMOR IN TECHNICAL WRITING.

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