Re: open-source vs. open source

Subject: Re: open-source vs. open source
From: "Michael West" <mbwest -at- bigpond -dot- com>
To: <techwr-l -at- lists -dot- techwr-l -dot- com>
Date: Tue, 28 Oct 2008 19:51:16 +1100

>>> It's not just you :-> Our Editorial Forum discussed
>>> this and decided that "open source" did not need to
>>> be hyphenated when used as a modifier because its
>>> typical usage was not ambiguous.

>> The idea that there is a committee somewhere that decides what I, or
>> else, will or won't find ambiguous is hilarious. That's not editing,
>> clairvoyance.

> ??? Many style decisions are based on what you
> think the audience will or won't find confusing
> or helpful. Typographic conventions, page layout,
> hyphenation, GUI terminology -- decisions in all
> those areas and more are largely informed by
> what you think will be helpful to your readers.

Quite so, and that's why the decision to ignore a basic hyphenation
convention in the name of "what's good for readers" strikes me as risible.

I wouldn't argue with the "decision" of the committee, but only with the
claim to omniscience on which it seems to be based.

The case of "open source code" is an interesting one. It is, in fact,
structurally ambiguous. However, the ambiguity is pretty much irrelevant
because the difference between "source" that is open and "source code" that
is open is too subtle to matter to most people.

So the ambiguity is there; it just doesn't matter.



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