Re: Nightmare Library

Subject: Re: Nightmare Library
From: "Peter Neilson" <neilson -at- windstream -dot- net>
To: techwr-l -at- lists -dot- techwr-l -dot- com
Date: Mon, 20 Feb 2017 09:14:54 -0500

I've answered this at incredible length in a private note to Zev. Basically it is attitude and audience. I think that Zev's colleagues believe they are themselves the audience. I also suspect that they are possessed of Ample Attitude.

The problem is akin to writing a popular article about some aspect of mathematics, and showing it to a mathematician. He (the mathematician) will find plenty of things "totally wrong" about what you wrote, as well as finding things wrong with YOU and with your dreadful lack of understanding in mathematics. And that's just for starters. (Done there, been that!)

Attitude Adjustment being inappropriate, the solution devolves to doing an end run, never showing the final version to the SME until it is too late for enemy action. If the SME outranks you substantially, be ready to take a job elsewhere, preferably in an entirely different profession.

On Mon, 20 Feb 2017 08:45:51 -0500, Wright, Lynne <Lynne -dot- Wright -at- kronos -dot- com> wrote:

If you can't find any samples of bad tech writing, what you could do is take a paragraph from an academic paper that's full of convoluted, jargony sentences (in one of the particularly theoretical fields like philosophy, film or architectural theory, or anthropology) and re-express the core idea in simple terms.

Although if they don't already take your word, as a native English speaker, about how to communicate effectively in English, you may never get through to them.

-----Original Message-----
From: techwr-l-bounces+lynne -dot- wright=kronos -dot- com -at- lists -dot- techwr-l -dot- com [mailto:techwr-l-bounces+lynne -dot- wright=kronos -dot- com -at- lists -dot- techwr-l -dot- com] On Behalf Of Zev Levi
Sent: February-20-17 2:24 AM
To: techwr-l <techwr-l -at- lists -dot- techwr-l -dot- com>
Subject: Nightmare Library

Hi all,

I work in a country where English is spoken as a second language (if at
all) and I often find myself explaining to product managers and developers why their documentation ideas are troublesome. ("Yes, the sentence you changed is clear to you but, as it's now five lines long, it is confusing to readers. We must explain ideas using shorter sentences.")

Is anyone aware of a virtual library of bad-documentation examples (a library of tech-doc nightmares)? I'd like to search for *long sentences* and find examples of unclear documentation.

It would be easier to convince PMs of writing guidelines if they tried reading a doc that didn't follow them.

I haven't had any luck googling these terms; I'm looking for documentation examples and google generally returns links to forums.

Cheers

Zev

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References:
Nightmare Library: From: Zev Levi
RE: Nightmare Library: From: Wright, Lynne

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