Re: Jargon Lovin' Fool

Subject: Re: 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 14:13:15 -0700 (PDT)

"Bruce Byfield" wrote...

> - Does anyone really believe that they risk losing credibility by using
"start"
> instead of "boot"?

Yes. I do. Because I can see through dumb little "friendlisms" and so can
a lot of geeks. Its a waste of time. Just say boot and be done with it.
Don't try to sugar coat the issue and make it nice.

> - Does anyone really believe that writing clearly automatically equates
with
> writing down to technical readers?

I can - it depends on how you do it. A lot of writers overly wordsmith
things and cause them to lose the original meaning.

You can write to technical audiences and be very clear. But you also need
to be cognizant that overly-polishing things will sometimes mask the
obvious. To boot a computer has a very specific meaning. You can start
lots of things - but you can only boot a computer.

> To take the specific first, "start" is a neutral word, and used just as
often as
> "boot" by techies. At the risk of bogging down in an example that may
not be a
> particularly good one, I seriously doubt that techies would notice
which one
> was used.

You're probably right. Most techies wouldn't notice or care. But they may
in other areas. "boot" vs. "start" is awfully simplistic. But if you spend
an inordinate amount of energy polishing off all the edges in a document,
you risk alienating more savvy audience members.

Also - think of documentation as a sales tool. If the docs speak to geeks,
it may impress them enough to recommend the technology. If the docs are
polished nonsense, the geeks won't be impressed and you'll lose the sale.

> Making a distinction between information and clarity is a false
dichotomy.
> Technical writers are supposed to provide both.

Agreed. But information can be dramatically "soiled" by over-wordsmithing
and grammar nazis. You risk losing nuance and alienating more technically
oriented readers. If you polish the hell out of every sentence, it may
sound great to other writers - but the nerds behind the scenes won't go
for it. It will turn them off.

Andrew Plato





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