Re: spec writing - is simple ever wrong ?

Subject: Re: spec writing - is simple ever wrong ?
From: Chris Morton <salt -dot- morton -at- gmail -dot- com>
To: techwr-l -at- lists -dot- techwr-l -dot- com
Date: Tue, 30 Jul 2013 16:12:59 -0700

I think we flushed this all out many months ago when I objected to the use
of "shall" in these docs, e.g., "The frabulator shall frabulate."

It appears that much of what we wrangle is a holdover of gubmint spec work,
with an abundance of parties apparently being insistent on promoting such
stilted language in perpetuity.

> Chris

On Tue, Jul 30, 2013 at 3:39 PM, Monique Semp <monique -dot- semp -at- earthlink -dot- net>wrote:

> Hello, WR-L-ers,
>
> I’m editing a specification, and I was merrily redlining all sorts of
> convoluted wording to be simple and straight-forward. But then I thought,
> perhaps there’s a reason that so many specs are so awkward to read. Maybe
> there is some spec writing requirement, beyond the usual SHOULD, MUST NOT,
> etc. definitions, that in effect requires indirectness? After all, why else
> would so many specs be so difficult to make out?
>
> For example, why should a spec say “in the case of” instead of “if”? Why
> should “moreover” be used so much more often than “and”, especially when
> both could be omitted altogether?
>
> Any thoughts?
>
> For reference:
>
> * I did find the RFC Document Style Manual,
> http://web.archive.org/web/20090418061257/http://www.rfc-editor.org/rfc-style-guide/rfc-style-manual-08.txt,
> but it certainly doesn’t say to be excessively wordy!
>
> * Not really related, but interesting, is this thread about programming
> language specifications:
> http://programmers.stackexchange.com/questions/23542/how-do-i-go-about-writing-a-programming-language-specification.
> I haven’t digested it fully yet, but it doesn’t seem to be concerned with
> natural (vs. programming) language issues.
>
> -Monique
>
>
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References:
spec writing - is simple ever wrong ?: From: Monique Semp

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