Jargon Lovin' Fool

Subject: Jargon Lovin' Fool
From: Andrew Plato <intrepid_es -at- yahoo -dot- com>
To: "TECHWR-L" <techwr-l -at- lists -dot- raycomm -dot- com>
Date: Fri, 19 Oct 2001 09:19:30 -0700 (PDT)

"CHRISTINE ANAMEIER" <> wrote in message news:126413 -at- techwr-l -dot- -dot- -dot-

Bruce Byfield wrote...
> For example, "boot" is probably in wide enough use to
> be familiar to many people, but it still has a techy
> feel to it. Novice users might be slightly intimidated
> by it, so, when writing for them, I would be inclined
> to use the more neutral "start" instead.

> I agree, Bruce. I want to reduce the alienation that novice users feel,
> not increase it. I can think of no reason for writing "boot" instead
> of "start," except possibly as a way to display one's geek plumage, and
> that's just not appropriate in documentation.

The inverse of this is true as well. Many geeks will find attempts at
converting perfectly good jargon to "friendly terms" as proof that the
writer (and hence the maker of the product) are clueless and uncredible.
Credibility is an important part of documenting anything. If the audience
doesn't trust the writer, they won't read the docs and they surely won't
buy the products. And they won't like it when you call them Shirley

When it comes to network security products (something I am very much
involved with), I can tell after reading just a few pages whether the
writer knew what he/she was talking about by how many complex ideas he/she
glossed over with "friendly words." I want information, not a hug and some
chamomile tea.

Also, geeks have powerful influence on a product's ability to penetrate
the market. Generally, if geeks like something, it will survive and get
popular. I mean what else would explain the rampant popularity of Linux or
FreeBSD? It certainly isn't "friendly."

A good document can appeal to both the geeks and the non-geeks and use a
mixture of jargon and friendly terms. There is no reason to exclude one
audience in favor of the other. All that does is limit the reach of your

Now, if all you're writing is end-user manuals for clueless drips - well
then I can understand wanting to protect them from all those scary words,
like "boot". But you know - they got to learn it sometime. Better you
teach them, then they learn it from some Linux-bully at work who tells
them that "boot" means "Microsoft is taking away your freedoms and
infecting you with Anthrax."

Andrew Plato

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