RE: Basic Voice ??s: OK for Software to "allow", "let", "enable", --- "pr ovide" and so forth?

Subject: RE: Basic Voice ??s: OK for Software to "allow", "let", "enable", --- "pr ovide" and so forth?
From: Alan Bucher <bucherino -at- yahoo -dot- com>
To: "TECHWR-L" <techwr-l -at- lists -dot- raycomm -dot- com>
Date: Thu, 13 Feb 2003 11:07:20 -0800 (PST)


Watson Laughton wrote:
>To say that "entering the secret password allows you to enter the
>Pentagon database" is not imprecise, insulting, formally incorrect,
>nor guilty of using unecessarily baroque language.

Perhaps, but it is unnecessarily wordy and indirect.
"Enter the Pentagon database by entering the secret password."
"Enter the secret password to enter the Pentagon database."
"To enter the Pentagon database, enter the secret password."
are all shorter, more succinct, user-oriented ways to say the same
thing.

The point is not to be defendably precise and accurate. The point is
to communicate ideas to your users using the clearest, most succinct
language.

>In some instances, one may "do" something oneself; in others,
>a "CSF" (thought that stood for cerebrospinal fluid) may "allow you
>to do" something.

I think that's a fairly arbitrary distinction. You can phrase
anything that way, or you can not. Of course the software "allows
you" to do anything covered by its feature set. But that's all
understood and obvious. You don't use software to be allowed to do
something; you use software to do it. So the doc should tell you how
to do it, not how to be allowed to do it.

>However, saying to say that "inserting a text box allows you to
>enter text" would not appear to be imprecise, ...

While perhaps true in some sense, it is vague and ambiguous, and
probably imprecise. Inserting a text box does allow them to do enter
text. But how? More clearly, it provides an area in which the user
can enter text. So say that.

Using your mouse "allows you" to access all of the menus. So what?
How about "use your mouse to access all of the menu"?

My general opinion is that the entire feature set of the software
"allows" you do do everything it can do. We all know that, including
users. So why belabor that point in every feature description? Just
be direct and succinct, and tell them how to do it!

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