Re: (Zachary) tayloring (Rant/Long)

Subject: Re: (Zachary) tayloring (Rant/Long)
From: "Huber, Mike" <mrhuber -at- SOFTWARE -dot- ROCKWELL -dot- COM>
Date: Mon, 8 Mar 1999 13:12:55 -0500

Scott Havens [mailto:SHavens -at- ELCOTEL -dot- COM]
> People on this list spend an awful lot of time bellyaching about
> how we never get any respect. Some of the grammar I've seen (not only
> here, but in published documentation as well) makes me think
> it's little wonder that folks feel that way.

Let me point something out right at the top: correct spelling is A Good Thing. I enjoy language, and I love to build a page that looks great and has no errors. My daughter won the city-wide Word Series (spelling bee with other language skills tested as well) this Saturday, so she's going to Washington DC, and I am extremely proud of her.


We are not, as a profession, ready to be respected. First, we need to be less despised.
A glitch in spelling or grammar makes them laugh at us. What makes them curse us is our failure to provide the answers.

We don't suffer from a perception that we can't write. We suffer from a perception that we care more about what font we use or whether that was the pluperfect future negative impersonal tense than we do about whatever material we a writing about.

Next time you are around some non-writers, hand one of them a VCR manual and ask what's wrong. I guarantee the answer won't be "this sentence is poorly constructed" or "this word is spelled wrong" or "they capitalized 'The' in the middle of a header" or "Ghod, what kind of amateur uses Helvetica for a whole paragraph" or even "the margins aren't well balanced".

Notice this: Tina the Tech Writer doesn't misspell words. Scott Adams is in a better position to know what our image is than we are. Read a few "Dilbert's" and then tell me which posts hurt our image, assuming anybody outside the profession is looking.

For those who suggest classes: do you think the original perpetrator seriously didn't know how to spell "tailor", or where to look it up? The grammar that goes into technical documentation is simple. The creative challenge to express complex ideas in simple form is substantial. But there is no room for advanced constructions in mainstream technical communication. If it wasn't covered by 6th grade (for those of you who went to sixth grade, I didn't) you probably shouldn't be using it anyway. You may be that literate, but how many of you have any reason to assume your reader is?

When we obsess on the simple stuff, we give the impression that THAT is what the profession is about. And if the profession is about not making the simple mistakes, then we are overpaid.

mike -dot- huber -at- software -dot- rockwell -dot- com
nax -at- execpc -dot- com

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