RE: Need a word

Subject: RE: Need a word
From: "Combs, Richard" <richard -dot- combs -at- Polycom -dot- com>
To: "Butler, Darren J Ctr 584 CBSS/GBHAC" <Darren -dot- Butler -dot- ctr -at- Robins -dot- af -dot- mil>, <tech -dot- writer1 -at- verizon -dot- net>, <techwr-l -at- lists -dot- techwr-l -dot- com>
Date: Wed, 14 Nov 2007 15:31:12 -0700

Butler, Darren J wrote:

> > A task is _what_ to do; a procedure is _how_ to do it. To
> complete a task, you follow one or more procedures. And a set of steps
> is a procedure.
> True, but I don't see how that is much different from what
> Joyce and I suggested. I'm not sure where is the gap?

You both defined a set of steps as a task and eliminated "procedure." I
disagree. Performing the steps is how one _proceeds_ to accomplish the
task; thus, a _procedure_.

I realize I'm being a curmudgeonly old pedant, but I still insist that
words aren't arbitrarily chosen collections of sounds/syllables. They
represent concepts that relate to each other, often through a shared
concept that's apparent from the shared root of the words. Thus, a
procedure is how one proceeds; a task is not.

> >There's no need for the complexity and vagueness of "sub steps"
> "sub steps" are complex *and* vaugue?
> Could you explain further?

I find "sub step" vague in this context because it's an artificial
construct that's being used in place of the right word (as I noted
above, there *is* a right word for how one proceeds). We could call
tasks "payoffs," procedures "struggles," and steps "moves," but would
that help or hinder understanding?

You suggested "sub steps" because in the situation tech.writer1
described, procedures were mislabeled "steps," so she/he needed a new
word for the steps themselves. It would be clearer to the reader to call
a procedure a procedure and not have to introduce a new term for a step.

I find "sub step" complex because even when used in the right context,
it's almost always an unnecessary devolution of "step." Steps 1, 2, and
3 are steps; but so are steps 1, 2a, 2b, and 3. There's simply no need
to subdivide the category (unless you're discussing formats/styles,
layout, etc.).

Remember: "I never lie and I'm always right." ;-)


Richard G. Combs
Senior Technical Writer
Polycom, Inc.
richardDOTcombs AT polycomDOTcom
rgcombs AT gmailDOTcom


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RE: Need a word: From: Butler, Darren J Ctr 584 CBSS/GBHAC

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