Re: passive voice (was RE: Numbering paragraphs

Subject: Re: passive voice (was RE: Numbering paragraphs
From: Chris Despopoulos <despopoulos_chriss -at- yahoo -dot- com>
To: "techwr-l -at- lists -dot- techwr-l -dot- com" <techwr-l -at- lists -dot- techwr-l -dot- com>
Date: Sun, 21 Oct 2012 04:30:44 -0700 (PDT)

Actually, all of the examples below could have avoided passive voice, given enough energy on the part of the writer (and enough cause to warrant that energy):
===========================
Well, at least one reason is sometimes you can't avoid it?.
> In the past it was favoured in academia (and other fields) = PASSIVE VOICE
> I'm... ahem.... actively persuaded = PASSIVE VOICE
>> otherwise, passive voice was (still is?) beloved of bureau'rats = PASSIVE VOICE
>> (the "c" is silent) because it is embraced as = PASSIVE VOICE
============================


As for the following, while I can accept passive voice on occasion, as a rule there's no place for it in technical writing.  I won't say I sneer at it, but it's a fact that active voice, by naming the agent of a verb, provides more information. By extension I firmly believe that empowers the reader.  Active voice is more work...  You have to actually know what is throwing the alert, and why...  You don't simply say, "An alert is posted".  Is it the server that throws the alert?  The database underneath?  The client software?  This is useful to know.  I've seen far too much technical writing that uses passive voice because of the passivity of the writer.  You have to bother to KNOW what you're writing about if you want to be active.  When you're tempted to say "An alert is posted", if you're sticking to active then you necessarily ask the question, "Who or what throws the alert?"  If you can't answer that question, should you write the
statement in the first place?
====================
Personally,
I find the modern fashion of sneering at Passive Voice to be
wrong-headed. Writers need to make full use of the grammatical
structures available to them according to the needs of the situation. To
impose a blanket ban on it just seems unnecessarily and pointlessly
prescriptive.
====================

Probably the best argument in favor of passive voice is simply, use it when you don't need active voice.  But again, I don't see many cases where holds true in technical writing. 

cud
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