"Select" in lieu of other verbs

Subject: "Select" in lieu of other verbs
From: "Boudreaux, Madelyn (GE Healthcare, consultant)" <MadelynBoudreaux -at- ge -dot- com>
To: <techwr-l -at- lists -dot- techwr-l -dot- com>
Date: Wed, 25 Feb 2009 12:35:08 -0500

I've been editing test scripts for a piece of hardware, and have run
into an issue.

The product I'm working with involves a touchscreen, a keyboard, some
additional buttons on a separate piece of equipment, and in some cases,
a remote, any two or more of which may be used to invoke the same
behaviors from the system.

In working with the machines, I defined -- with agreement from the Human
Factors manager -- "press" for keys on a keyboard or on the separate
piece of equipment, and (with TechWhirl's help) "touch" for invoking
visual buttons on the touchscreen. Choose is reserved for picking
between like options (4 different frame rates, for example), and Select
for check boxes.

(Style guide check: The division style guide suggests "select" when
choosing between like items such as modes, but doesn't go any deeper
than that. The company style guide suggests "select" for selecting text
to be copied or for selecting files from a directory. Both refer
generically back to Microsoft Manual of Style for other questions, and
it says, quite plainly, "Do not use select as a general term for
clicking options in a dialog box.")

I have one engineer who will only use "select" in all cases where a
behavior can be invoked in one or more ways. So, where I've edited a
line to read, "Touch OK," she changes it back to "Select OK."

She's not just doing it to be ornery. Her reasoning is that the user can
invoke "OK," in multiple ways, so she doesn't want to dictate how they
do it. I maintain that we tell them one way to do it, and not encourage
them to do it multiple ways. I suggested we talk to the Human Factors
manager (her boss), but she wasn't interested in his opinion. I told her
I needed to consult the style guides and think about this, and she
cheerfully told me I could think about it all I wanted; she was keeping
"select" as a generic verb. I suggested we look at the manuals, she
grinned because, lo and behold, she used to be a technical writer and
she wrote them many years ago; of course, they use "select." I'll grant
that she is consistent. (I'm more concerned that we've done this not
only in internal test documents but also in user documents.)

Is this just a battle not worth fighting? Do I correct everyone else and
leave her alone? Do I let her dictate the style? I'm overwhelmed as it
is, and part of me just wants to drop it. I want to give her all her
documents back and tell her I can't edit them. But she's not at all rude
about the other edits I make, and appreciates everything else I catch.
It's just this one thing.

Yesterday, I was really upset about this, and sat on this email for a
night. I'm still upset, but not as much. (This may have been exacerbated
by the fact that in the last week, 2 of my friends, engineers both, have
complained to me about the idiocy of tech pubs people, leading me to
come to verbal blows with one of them. It became obvious in both cases
that said tech pubs people were not willing to just make whatever
jargon-filled changes the engineers dictated. PLUS one of them played
"unclone" on a Scrabble game just to spite me. Remind me not to play
Scrabble with drunk engineers.)

- Madelyn
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