RE: The 'user' in User Manual

Subject: RE: The 'user' in User Manual
From: "Combs, Richard" <richard -dot- combs -at- Polycom -dot- com>
To: "Lauren" <lt34 -at- csus -dot- edu>, "Techwr-l" <techwr-l -at- lists -dot- techwr-l -dot- com>
Date: Mon, 5 Feb 2007 12:23:19 -0700

Lauren wrote:

> I have never in my entire life heard, read, or been familiar
> with the phrase "2nd person imperative." To be quite honest,
> I do not know what it means.
> It has never been fully defined in this thread to the extent
> that I would remember the definition and it is not used in

I think it's too bad that schools and colleges no longer teach grammar,
but that's just me. I'm sorry that my brief descriptions didn't help
you, but I did include links to detailed definitions and discussions of
both person and mood at Wikipedia.

> everyday speech. (I am also not interested in learning this
> term, once again, it is not used in everyday
> speech.) I am, however, familiar with writing and voice.

Well, we weren't discussing the weather or Super Bowl. The topic was how
one should write user guides. The choice of person and mood are key
aspects of this. I don't restrict myself to everyday terms when
describing software configuration -- why must I do so when describing
the mechanics of writing?

> When I use familiar terms to describe a concept, rather than
> textbook terms, then I am not wrong. But your defense over
> terms that I have never heard is very odd to me. What you
> are saying is that you cannot understand a concept, unless I
> use a textbook term. <snip>

Your "familiar terms" confused more than one of us because you give them
your own unique meanings. I'm sorry that you've never been introduced to
the "textbook terms" -- the textbooks they're in are books that teach
English grammar and composition, and that's the field of knowledge we're
discussing, isn't it?

I'm also somewhat amused that someone with a university email address
would be so negative about "textbook terms." Don't they appreciate "book
learnin'" at Sacramento State?

> Please cite the message where, as you say, I said "Don't use
> 2nd person voice."

2/2/2007, 1:52 PM:
> connotation. I take a neutral stance in my writing and avoid 1st
> ("I"), 2nd ("you"), and 3rd ("user") person voices.

Again, I'm sorry that my attempts to clarify the discussion and add to
your understanding upset you. But, frankly, I don't understand your
insistence on making your ignorance into a virtue.


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