Re: Reading a draft "for content only"

Subject: Re: Reading a draft "for content only"
From: "Susan W. Gallagher" <sgallagher -at- STARBASECORP -dot- COM>
Date: Wed, 8 Feb 1995 11:22:23 -0800


> . . .

> Likewise, the developer
> > needs to leave the grammar to you and review for content only. Clear?
> >
> > Vince Putman | Avoid polishing the fire truck
> . . .
To which Arthur Comings replies...

> Clearly angry.

> Why this insistance that someone could ever read for "content only" ?

> What about if you left a coffee stain on a draft that made part of it
> illegible?
[snip]
> I take your point that pages and pages of precise, well-meaning, and
> totally screwy grammar and punctuation edits would drive me crazy and
> be a waste of everyone's time, but the trouble is, I've never seen this!

> In ten years of tech writing I've had a few complaints about
> reviewers, but they haven't had to do with illiterates trying to teach me
> English. Maybe it's because I try to make my drafts fairly clean to
> begin with; maybe not.

> Anyway, if you really have to deal with that kind of endless edits, you
> have my sympathy, but I doubt you're going to change the way a lot of
> us work, or modify the desire of readers (ESL or not) to make something
> more readable.
[snip some more]

I've never seen this either -- at least not to the extent that it's
being complained about here? What kind of edits are they, anyway???

When I give somebody something to edit, I expect them to offer
their own particular point of view. Sometimes that means I expect
technical edits, sometimes grammatical. But that doesn't mean
I'm not thankful when somebody points out an extra "only" in
a sentence or that I've left out a "not" or "and". Even a tech
edit is asking the reader if I make sense -- and if I don't --
if I haven't reached that particular audience -- then I want to
know about it.

Occasionally (and not here, but in a prior lifetime), programmers
would tag me for changing passive to active on something that they'd
roughed out for me. The real problem was that I had significantly
altered the meaning of the sentence without realizing it -- and
this was a legit complaint! So I learned to work with them more
closely and to be very careful to retain the meaning through the
edits. Maybe we left in more passive voice than I'd like to have --
but that's really a minor consideration in the overall scheme of
things.

Just maybe, those of you who feel you're getting dinged for
grammar by your techies need to sit back and look at the big
picture. Clearly, there's a problem. But I find it hard to
blame the reviewer for everything. After all, we're the ones
who are supposed to be able to communicate here.

Just my $.02 :-)

Sue Gallagher
StarBase Corp, Irvine CA
sgallagher -at- starbasecorp -dot- com


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