On the value of glossaries containing terms the audience should already know

Subject: On the value of glossaries containing terms the audience should already know
From: "Elissa K. Miller" <emiller -at- doubleknot -dot- com>
To: "techwrl" <techwr-l -at- lists -dot- techwr-l -dot- com>
Date: Thu, 19 Dec 2013 08:44:06 -0800

Hi, all:



So, I continue working on an administrative command line reference as a
freelance gig for a client whose staff consists entirely of engineers-no
in-house technical writers, trainers, or instructional designers of any
kind.



The original document that they created has a glossary that includes a
section of industry terms and a section of company-specific terms. There are
only five company-specific terms, and even though they're defined in the
text of the manual, I can see the value of putting them in a glossary as
well because you might go straight to the command you want to learn about
and miss the text where it was defined. So, it's a weirdly short glossary,
but fine.



But, the industry terms in the glossary are bugging me-they're defining
really basic terms like RFC, SSH, LDAP, DNS, and IP, and I don't think you
have any business mucking around with *anything* covered in this guide if
you don't know what DNS and IP mean.



Any thoughts on whether it's worth it to argue that it's unnecessary and
borderline insulting to tell sysops what USB means? (USB is an example where
defining it doesn't even help-my elderly mother knows what a USB port does
and how to plug things into it without knowing what the acronym stands for).
Does this kind of glossary have any value other than the not-negligible
value of "leaving it because the client thinks it's important?" This really
isn't the hill upon which I wish to die in battle, so, "Shut up and format
the glossary they gave you-no one is going to read the glossary anyway" is a
reasonable response.



Sorry to have such basic questions, but as I mentioned in my first round of
basic questions (which included "duuuuh, what do I do with pages and pages
of sample output?), this is a new world for me.



Thanks,

Elissa





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