Re: Are these words being used?

Subject: Re: Are these words being used?
From: Eric Ray <ejray -at- raycomm -dot- com>
To: John David Hickey <dave -at- toonboom -dot- com>
Date: Mon, 08 Nov 1999 09:27:40 -0700

> Wait a sec, George. You're confusing the two points. The three terms you
> coined there are terms created to describe new technologies. The SME isn't
> using "Shipability" to descibe something new. There are much clearer ways to
> descirbe the process than cobbling together some bizarre word.

Do you know that? Unless I missed something, we haven't heard the
actual definition for Shipability. I can guess, as you can, but it could
also reference specific size and packing requirements for transportation
via a large boat. We don't know.

> The problem with doing this is that, since this is a made-up word, there is
> no way to look-up this word to confirm it's true meaning. So "shipability"
> can mean one thing to one person and something else to another.

But finding out if it's understood and consistently used in OUR TARGET
AUDIENCE is usually fairly straightforward.

> Actually, we're both. When we write a manual, we're laying the foundation
> for clear communication between people. Therefore, it is our responsibility
> to define the language and terms the people use to describe the technology
> or process.

Well, it's our job to clearly communicate the definitions of the terms
we use...but not necessarily ours to define the terms.

> If they are using vague or inaccurate terms, then it's our job
> to teach them what the proper terms are. Keeping a vague or inaccurate term
> just because "everyone" (whoever that is!) uses it is not good enough.

Nope. It's our job to communicate clearly. If our users or SMEs want
to be taught "what the proper terms are", they'll sign up for a class.
If my audience consistently uses the term Thoomajiggie to describe a
ball point pen, that's the term I should be using in my documentation.
(If my audience will have to communicate with others ABOUT ball point
pens, then "proper" terms enter into the equation, but not until then.)

Quite frankly, we don't know if the terms are vague, inaccurate,
or ideal for the situation. From the telecom industry, "provisioning"
is a term that _sounds_ like it's a $2 word for a simple situation,
but it's the standard and accepted term for the process. These terms
could be similarly common within an industry.


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