RE: Friday Poll Idea (WAS: In love with a word)

Subject: RE: Friday Poll Idea (WAS: In love with a word)
From: "Nuckols, Kenneth M" <Kenneth -dot- Nuckols -at- mybrighthouse -dot- com>
To: <techwr-l -at- lists -dot- techwr-l -dot- com>
Date: Mon, 9 Jan 2006 09:46:36 -0500

Mark Levinson said...

> > sometimes it just seems like the task requires some
> > kind of reassurance.
> I think it's risky to tell users that what they're
> about to attempt is "straightforward," or worse yet
> "simple" or "easy". By doing so, you're telling them
> that in the best case, when they've quickly mastered
> the procedure, they don't deserve any credit, and in
> the worst case, when they encounter difficulty understanding
> or performing the procedure, you consider that they must
> be numbskulls.
> As in much marketing writing, the ideal is to put the
> favorable idea into the reader's head without explicitly
> stating it. If you can say something like, for example,
> "the whole procedure can be thought of as four steps," then
> you can hope the reader can say, "Why, that looks easy!"
> and because it's the reader's own opinion, it won't meet
> the resistance that an explicit claim of easiness would
> need to penetrate.

I have tried to avoid using that sort of preamble for two reasons: the
first is just like Mark said--if I tell them the procedure is simple and
they find it difficult, it implies that I'm calling that individual
reader/user stupid. The reality is that I probably haven't done a good
job conveying the simplicity by writing a proper procedure.

The second reason I try to avoid such introductions is that they just
seem like "fluff" or "padding" to me. I consider that people read what I
write not because it's some great literary masterwork but because they
have a task to finish and they want to be done. So why should I delay
them with any extra rhetorical drivel, no matter how well-intentioned?

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