Re: Formality is going bye-bye?

Subject: Re: Formality is going bye-bye?
From: Collin T <tutivillus -at- gmail -dot- com>
To: "Dubin, David" <David -dot- Dubin -at- sage -dot- com>
Date: Tue, 7 Feb 2006 10:52:47 -0700

All very god points.

And you're welcome (regarding my tagline)!

I was taught that the average American reader is hanging around the
7th grade level. So that's the platform from which I build my
documents. "Always write to the lowest common denominator."

I agree with David...America is dumbing down. But I also see (and
agree with!) the need to "de-formalize" some of what we do in order to
increase readership and appeal.

Is it wrong? No, I think it's a requirement. If we wish to remain
effective, we must be willing to move with the industry or strive to
be innovators.

I don't know about all of you, but it's my experience that some of the
most impressive documentation I've seen has *not* been done by Tech
Writers. (Not all, I don't mean to sound an alarm, but I've seen some
great "out of the box" work done by these people.)

I guess I'm with the "less formal" crowd. I write fairly in a fairly
informal style which fits my audience. I'm not trying to "dumb them
down", but appeal to my readership.

-Collin Turner

On 2/7/06, Dubin, David <David -dot- Dubin -at- sage -dot- com> wrote:
> Here is one man's (very jaded) opinion. (Bringing out soap box)
> It seems to me that there is a "dumbing down" of communications at every
> level of American society. Collin refers to it as a trend towards
> informality, but I see this as a much more insidious threat to our culture.
> It goes hand in hand with our children's inability to read and write at
> grade levels consistent with the Flesch-Kincaid reading index or understand
> math beyond basic arithmetic.
> I don't know how the school system in your state/county/district works, but
> our school board in Pinellas County, Florida, wants to do away with the
> valedictorian and salutatorian because they don't feel it is fair to the
> other students. And we wonder why Americans cannot compete in a global
> economy. (Putting away soap box)
> Sorry, I had to vent.
> David B. Dubin, PHR
> Senior Curriculum Developer
> Sage Software
> 727-579-1111 x 3356
> david -dot- dubin -at- sage -dot- com
> Your business in mind.
> -----Original Message-----
> From: techwr-l-bounces+david -dot- dubin=sage -dot- com -at- lists -dot- techwr-l -dot- com
> [mailto:techwr-l-bounces+david -dot- dubin=sage -dot- com -at- lists -dot- techwr-l -dot- com] On Behalf
> Of John Garison
> Sent: Tuesday, February 07, 2006 12:09 PM
> To: Collin T
> Cc: techwr-l -at- lists -dot- techwr-l -dot- com
> Subject: Re: Formality is going bye-bye?
> 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.

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plastic hallway where thieves and pimps run free, and good men die
like dogs. There's also a negative side."

- Hunter S. Thompson

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RE: Formality is going bye-bye?: From: Dubin, David

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