Re: Is this too Offensive for a manual?

Subject: Re: Is this too Offensive for a manual?
From: topsidefarm -at- mva -dot- net
To: "TECHWR-L" <techwr-l -at- lists -dot- raycomm -dot- com>
Date: Fri, 21 Nov 2003 07:10:50 -0700

There has been a lot of good input on this. The issues of the intended
audience and the harm/benefit potential are very important. However, I
think the biggest issue here is whether the potential for offense is
necessary or unnecessary, and who or what is defining that necessity.

There are times when putting the required elements into a document is
going to offend people, and when it may actually be a good thing. In the
capital equipment field, using "...can cause serious injury or death" in a
safety warning notice is sure to offend somebody in the review process.
The word "death seems" to do that. However, as my father always taught me,
"facts is facts". I don't care if I offend someone in this situation. My
job is to provide enough accurate information to prevent some poor SOB
getting hurt or killed. OSHA regulations and my conscience define the
nature of these warnings.

In Claire's situation, the first thing she needs to find out is if there
is a specific reason that the offensive wording was included. Just because
software isn't as potentially lethal as the equipment I work with
(generally speaking, I know there are exceptions), that doesn't
automatically render the potential for offense unnecessary. We need to
know the how and why concerning the creation of this software.

For all we know, this is a custom application being written for a company
that is operating under a consent decree with government regulators
(Claire, by chance are you working for Enron?). As such, this software
could be part of a government ordered cultual overhaul, and the
offensiveness be be deemed a necessity by either the customer or the
regulators. These kind of re-education programs do tend to be harsh in
tone. How many on the list have ever been through sexual harassment or
ethics training after their employer has been sued? Many of those who have
will know exactly what I am talking about here. While I don't completely
agree with this theory of training (I would also balk at the material
Claire is questioning), it seems to be widely practiced. Under this kind
of scenerio, this offensive language MAY be entirely appropriate, whether
we like it or not.

So go find out if it is necessary and, as Andrew said, "Make a decision,
go with it. Move along."

Jason A. Czekalski

> Dear All,
> I am editing a software manual with a target audience of users who are =
> responsible for managing meter readers. This management process uses the =
> various reports and records maintained by the software.
> There are some phrases used in reference to the meter readers that make =
> me balk at including them. For example:
> Arising from incompetent, lazy or crooked meter readers...
> ...reward performance and punish incompetence.
> In some cases these comments are absolutely true and the cause of =
> significant business losses that the software is used to control. =
> However, I can't help but think it is not necessary to be so blunt.
> Opinions please?
> Claire=20



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