RE: Tech communication ethics (was Re: Ambiguous words and Phrases)

Subject: RE: Tech communication ethics (was Re: Ambiguous words and Phrases)
From: "Dori Green" <dgreen -at- associatedbrands -dot- com>
To: <techwr-l -at- lists -dot- techwr-l -dot- com>
Date: Tue, 19 Feb 2008 08:48:49 -0500

Ethical rule #1: don't volunteer other people.

Dori Green


From: Tim Mantyla [mailto:TimMantyla -at- nustep -dot- com]
Sent: Monday, February 18, 2008 4:25 PM
To: techwr-l -at- lists -dot- techwr-l -dot- com
Cc: Dori Green
Subject: Tech communication ethics (was Re: Ambiguous words and Phrases)

Dori has started a list and a discussion of ethics, I hope. I like that!
Any additions or suggestions?


> From: "Dori Green" <dgreen -at- associatedbrands -dot- com>

> If writing ambiguously on purpose is not prohibited in the STC's Code
> Ethics for Technical Writers, it should be. If STC does not have a
> of Ethics for Technical Writers, it should.
> Dori Green

> From: Peter Neilson <neilson -at- windstream -dot- net>

> The concern in writing marketing materials or sales scripts is not
> information be conveyed accurately or completely, but that an
> environment conducive to a sale be created.
> Andrew Warren wrote:
> > V Suresh wrote:
> > ...
> >> It actually leaves a customer helpless if they ever get into
> >> a hassle with the bank.
> >>
> >> If you ask me, the Banks by using such ambiguous words can
> >> easily get away from any tight corners.
> >
> > I don't see that. The loan isn't approved until the bank
> > says it is; "approved in principle" is no more harmful to
> > the applicant than "nearing approval", "not yet approved",
> > or "awaiting approval".
> >
> >> Isn?t there a need to give more clarity to a customer than
> >> that?
> >
> > The sentence only lacks clarity if the reader is unfamiliar
> > with the phrase "in principle". If the reader knows the
> > phrase, it actually ADDS clarity.

> > I guess the bank could simplify the language in the loan-
> > approval letter, but the customer's eventually going to
> > have to read the loan docs, and the language is MUCH more
> > complicated there. Simplifying the letter isn't going to
> > do much to improve a customer's overall comprehension of
> > the system.

> From: Ned Bedinger <doc -at- edwordsmith -dot- com>

> In general, when a business sector characteristically obscures
> information with ambiguous words, I don't like it. I take a dim view
> it. Sometimes I might see that the ambiguity hss been introduced by a

> writer who doesn't understand the subject matter, but that's a
> matter.
> The financial industry in the United States has been under fire in
> recent years for creating consumer documentation that requires, in the

> words of Senator Carl Levin, a 27th-grade education to comprehend.
> At Sen. Levin's request, the General Accounting Office (GAO) undertook
> study of the credit card industry, and found that the terms of credit
> card agreements are written at a 10th-12th grade level, well above the

> 8th-grade level at which half of US adults read.
> See the full report, which discusses the results found by readability
> consultants:
> BTW, Sen. Levin's committee held hearings about this and other credit
> card practices. One public hearing featured credit card company
> executives in attendance to answer question, and it was a spectacle
> worthy of the Roman forum. Levin read, for a solid minute, from the
> text of an agreement from a major credit card company, and then asked
> one of the executives if he believed that credit card holders knew
> it meant. The exec stated that yes, he thought most of them did. The
> audience erupted in gales of derisive laughter.
> TW tie-in: This might be a good example of how to make document
> more popular and entertaining, but not if you're prone to blushing.
> Ned Bedinger
> doc -at- edwordsmith -dot- com


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Tech communication ethics (was Re: Ambiguous words and Phrases): From: Tim Mantyla

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