Re: Don't "Should" on Me!

Subject: Re: Don't "Should" on Me!
From: Caryn Rizell <caryn -at- HPPTC95 -dot- ROSE -dot- HP -dot- COM>
Date: Thu, 2 Jun 1994 14:10:58 PDT

I agree with you 99%.

I also try to avoid 'parental language'. But what do you do in
the case where if the user does not do what we tell them, the
consequences are very serious? Since we are to avoid the negative
(Don't do this), what do we use instead to convey
an imperative that should not be taken lightly?

Caryn Rizell
caryn -at- hpptc95 -dot- rose -dot- hp -dot- com

> What think you about the use of "should," "have to," "must," "need to," and
> (sometimes) "WILL" in the instructions that you read and write?

> I've nothing against the words themselves. Obviously enough, they work well in
> many other contexts. But, I find it offensive when someone uses these terms to
> get me to do something (e.g., "You must enter the correct password.")

> By using any one of these terms in giving instructions, a writer-- 1. Treats
> the readers as if they were children, 2. Treats the readers as if they had no
> free will, 3. Sounds moralistic and preachy, 4. Makes statements instead of
> requests, and 5. Needlessly lengthens sentences (e.g., "You need to enter the
> correct password." is 75% longer than "Enter the correct password.")

> I call the "should/must/need to" constructions parental language, because
> parents often use them in talking with their children. Because I don't like
> reading them, I avoid writing them. I write direct requests instead.

> Because we spend such a large portion of our lives writing routine
> instructions, this seems like an important matter to me. How do you feel about
> it?

> - Dan

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