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I plan on spending more time mulling over what you're proposing, but a
couple of quick thoughts present themselves:
>If we want to have a World Wide Web or use C++, we have to have
standards. Not so with English, where our complex brains are much more
forgiving of spelling and syntax mistakes. I'm sorry if this seems like
stating the obvious, but I think it needs to be stated if you're talking
about standards for tech writing and using computer industry standards
Yes, it bears stating that natural language will always resist the kind
of structure found in computer languages. The closest analogy I'm
suggesting to a computer industry standard would be something like an
XML schema. It can define the order and structure of a document's
content elements. That's why I chose the word schema, because I think
that if this is a good idea an XML schema would be an excellent way to
>Perhaps what you're suggesting would be a Microsoft "Manual of Style
Technical Publications" expanded to include... well, I'm not sure. What
you looking for that you wouldn't find in such a book?
What I'm suggesting would be a set of rules that define WHAT goes into
MicroSoft's--or anyone else's--Manual of Style. And WHERE it goes, and
HOW it's presented. So that, for example, in any standard-compliant
document, the use of commas, or boldface, or conventions for naming doc
files, or whatever, would be found in, for example, chapter 3, paragraph
2, and start with a reference to the manual they recognize as
authoritative, followed by the exceptions they take to these rules,
followed by any more restrictive rules imposed on top of the referenced
manual, etc. Structure the information.
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