Re: Messages. . .

Subject: Re: Messages. . .
From: Andrew Shires <andrews -at- HARLEQUIN -dot- CO -dot- UK>
Date: Mon, 24 May 1993 19:18:55 BST

September Radecki (sradecki -at- sherpa -dot- com) writes:

> I have felt intimidated by this forum, because I sometimes make
> typos that I don't catch, and I don't like being lambasted.

> Maybe we all need to take a step back and remember the *REAL*
> purpose for forums such as this one.

(The following comments are not directed at you, but at all of us.)

I haven't seen a great deal of pedantry on this mailing list. I
would certainly not encourage it, but that doesn't mean that we
shouldn't try harder to get things right in the first place. While
agreeing that the main function of the list is to allow people to
exchange ideas about technical communication, I believe that we have a
duty to ourselves, and to the image of our profession, to make our
messages literate.

If we -- people who are paid to use language clearly and correctly
on behalf of others -- start making excuses for each other's mistakes,
how can we justify the reason for our employment: that we have
linguistic skills and discipline above that of the average person?
How are we to justify a demand for good writing from those who write
for us, if we don't demand it when writing amongst ourselves?

Not everyone who subscribes to this mailing list is a technical
writer. We can be sure that these people will form opinions about our
profession upon the basis of what they read here. I would be happier
if they were forming an image of us as good writers, with an
above-average command of spelling, grammar, and English usage, than as
lazy illiterates. If we encourage excuses, justify mistakes, and
blame technology, we will do nothing but convince these readers that
we are no more fit for our jobs than anyone else.

A number of subscribers have expressed frustration at how our job
is perceived by others -- with prejudice to overcome before we even
start, the worst thing we can do is shoot ourselves in the collective
foot by letting self-discipline slip.

Andrew Shires Harlequin Ltd.,
Technical Author Barrington Hall,
andrews -at- harlequin -dot- co -dot- uk Cambridge,
andrews -at- harlequin -dot- com ENGLAND.

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