Re: Formality is going bye-bye?

Subject: Re: Formality is going bye-bye?
From: John Garison <john -at- garisons -dot- com>
To: Collin T <tutivillus -at- gmail -dot- com>
Date: Tue, 07 Feb 2006 12:09:28 -0500

Hi Colin,

IMHO, they know their audience, and they're talking clearly and directly to them.

I don't have a real problem with this. But then I advocate using contractions in my documentation, too. Anything that makes the content more readable and less off-putting is a good thing. If formality is a barrier between me and my audience, and if I can get my message across while using less stilted language, I'm all for it.

Ever read the manuals associated with games? They're pretty informal, too. And I believe one of them won an STC Best of Show award a few years ago - complete with torn pages, 'handwritten' crib notes, and so forth ... it made the documentation part of the game.

As long as accuracy and completeness are not compromised - and the Google Q&A format does a good job of presenting complete information - I say go for it. ANYTHING that will encourage (and not discourage) people from reading and learning is acceptable (as long as it doesn't alienate other readers).

Hmmm ... maybe instead of levels of documentation: beginner, advanced, wizard - we need to think about age stratification: teenz, adults, and mature.

My 2¢,


Collin T wrote:

I was reading Google's explanation regarding their new chat features
in Gmail. It dawned on me that their language is very informal. Now,
I've noticed this before, but never thought too much about it. Recently, however, I've noticed a few instances of Help text seeming
to follow Google's lead.
So my question is this: Are "General Public" documents (help, etc)
going to shift with Google's lead?

I'm not talking about technical documents aimed at specific segments. I'm talking about documents that are geared towards general


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Formality is going bye-bye?: From: Collin T

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