Re: When users want jargon

Subject: Re: When users want jargon
From: Emily Berk <emily -at- armadillosoft -dot- com>
To: "TECHWR-L" <techwr-l -at- lists -dot- raycomm -dot- com>
Date: Tue, 04 Jun 2002 09:29:21 -0700

On Mon, 3 Jun 2002 11:43:26 -0700, Anita Legsdin <anita -dot- legsdin -at- watchmark -dot- com> wrote:
>What do you do when, after you've done your best to use simple language and
>clear procedures, your users ask for jargon? I'm writing a manual for a
>product that's designed to go to more than one customer (after it's
>finished). The one we have a contract with right now is testing the
>software and the manual. They have comments like, "you don't include
>procedures for provisioning!" or, "Please add procedures for degrowth."
>This company has developed so much specialized jargon that it's nearly
>impossible to understand what it is they want. ...


I think that maybe what you are saying is that the jargon was hard for you to learn and so you have removed it all.

But the manual that these folks are reviewing (I am assuming it is a manual that they would also be using) is not targeted at you, it's targeted at them.

Very often, people use particular words to find the parts of a document that addresses the issue they are trying to resolve.

If they are not finding key words that they need to find necessary information, then you do need to put the jargon in. You may need a better familiarity with the material in order to do this; I find that sometimes by writing a description at an advanced level, I educate myself a little better on the topic. Maybe take a crack at writing one or two sections more concisely and then informally run your revision past one or two sympathetic, but sophisticated, reviewers.

If you are sure there is another, unheard constituency that needs the jargon-free version, then maybe what you need is an Introductory Guide (perhaps that's what you've just written) and a much more concise Advanced Users Guide.

Since your beginning users are, hopefully going to become Advanced quickly with the help of your documentation, I would recommend you provide definitions of the jargon-y terms in the Introductory Guide.


~ Emily Berk ~
~ On the web at *** Armadillo Associates, Inc. ~
~ Internet and non-internet application development, project ~
~ management, developer relations and extremely-technical technical ~
~ documentation that developers find useful. ~

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