Re: Style and Procedure Schema?

Subject: Re: Style and Procedure Schema?
From: kcronin -at- daleen -dot- com
To: "TECHWR-L" <techwr-l -at- lists -dot- raycomm -dot- com>
Date: Wed, 6 Mar 2002 08:42:05 -0700

Tim wrote:

> .....everybody wins by
> creating one universal solution rather than a bunch of little
> proprietary ones.

All the anti-Microsofties on this list (I'm not one, incidentally) would
beg to differ. But your concept does seem to conflict with that of free
enterprise, something that my country tries to encourage.

> What would happen if every Style Manual or Procedure Manual for technical
> writers followed the same template and order of content?

I think that would get pretty boring. By the same token, should the
Chicago Manual of Style get together with Webster's and Britannica agree
on ONE way to present information? By trying to simplify things, you're
limiting and filtering out all the wonderful alternatives that may not yet
have presented themselves to our imaginations.

> 1. What other benefits are there to a TW Style and Procedure Schema?

I see none, and think this "gap" is already pretty well filled by the
Microsoft style manual. And you've seen how popular THAT is. :)

> 2. What, if any, are the disadvantages?

You'll never get everybody to agree, and you'd be force-fitting
methodologies on people who are perfectly capable of coming up with their

> 3. Is this something that could be undertaken by a working group under
> the auspices of an existing sanctioning body (STC comes to mind)?

Gosh I hope not.

> 4. If such a project were undertaken, what would be the flies in the
> ointment?

Individuality. Imagination. Andrew Plato. Those are the first "flies" that
come to mind.

> 5. Do you think there's enough industry-wide benefit to justify the
> investment of time by a group of volunteers?

No. See my comment about the MS style guide. The wheel's already been
invented, and lots of people hate it, and prefer to take the stairs.

> 6. Would you volunteer your time?


> 7. Would you adopt it at your place of business?

I would only adopt whatever portions I found useful/applicable, and would
do so on a case-by-case basis, which is how I make all such decisions
regarding concepts like styles and procedures.

I think your plan is well-intentioned, but unless I'm misunderstanding
your goal - which is entirely possible - I think that you are finding
analogies between coding standards such as W3C, OMG, the Open Source
Project, etc. that I don't think apply to tech writing.

To clarify my point, HTML defines how tags work. But it does not tell you
how to design Web pages.

Tim, if I've mistaken your intentions, please forgive me, and clarify them
for me. Thanks.

-Keith Cronin

Think outside the box. Unless it's a really big box; then it's fun to
climb inside and pretend it's a fort.

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