Re: Don't "Should" on Me!

Subject: Re: Don't "Should" on Me!
From: Steve Fouts <sfouts -at- ELLISON -dot- SC -dot- TI -dot- COM>
Date: Fri, 3 Jun 1994 09:50:55 CDT

Dan Dieterich allegedly said:

|} 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.")

Well, you're a free spirit, Dan, and I admire that, but I'm not going to
write to you as my primary audience. I never use ``should'' because it
is useless. If there are options, spell them out. When there is no option,
then I write, ``You must enter the password to reenter the system.''

``Correct'' is redundant. If it ain't correct, it ain't the password,
is it? (Admittedly, I have the luxury of writing to a fairly sophisticated
audience) Unless this is a system security manual, I'm not even going
to suggest the possibility of options. Here are some ``real'' examples
from my own writing:

Valid substitution symbols must begin with a letter.

You must declare a macro before you can use it.

Consequences? They are almost always the same, I'm afraid. Your program
won't work the way you wanted it to. I feel that my audience has a job
to do, and they want me to tell them in no uncertain terms how to get
it done. That's what I try to do. I don't feel that this demeans them in
any way. Sorry Dan.

_______________ _____
/ ___ __/__\ \ / / _\ Steve Fouts
/___ \| | ___\ | / __\ sfouts -at- ellison -dot- sc -dot- ti -dot- com
/ / \ | \ / \
/_______/__|_______\_/________\ "These are not books, lumps of lifeless paper,
but _minds_ alive on the shelves." -- Gilbert Highet

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