Re: Midol Moment or National Tragedy? You decide...

Subject: Re: Midol Moment or National Tragedy? You decide...
From: "Tim Altom" <taltom -at- simplywritten -dot- com>
To: "TechDoc List" <techwr-l -at- lists -dot- raycomm -dot- com>
Date: Thu, 11 Nov 1999 15:08:36 -0500

The friends who tell you that spelling and grammar don't matter aren't pro
writers. We who write for a living take justifiable pride in doing our jobs
to at least those fundamental standards.

There is also a halo effect at work. A non-standard spelling, usage, or
grammar leads the reader to assume that other problems exist, too, such as
product glitches and manual mistakes. Getting the major spelling issues
resolved is so simple and foundational that if any company isn't taking time
to do such easy things, how reliable can we take them to be in ferreting out
harder problems?

Today, though, the emphasis seems to be on fast turnaround and selling the
company. I've become appalled at the current state of technical companies.
They seem to exist for the sake of a single product, assume that technical
superiority is the ultimate in marketability, then rush to market so they
can do an IPO. Bugs and poor usability don't matter. And that includes the
pesky manual. So who cares how tarnished the halo effect becomes? We did a
huge IPO and we're all wealthy.

I'm no longer surprised or even much annoyed when I see pages like you
describe. I DON'T see such pages much from companies such as HP, so I
suppose that's a good sign. I don't think the issue is so much "does grammar
or spelling matter?" as it is "does the company care about putting quality
in my hands?" I continue to buy HP products, even when they're more
expensive and newly introduced, with no track record, because I've always
been impressed with their consistent quality in both documentation and
technology. I figure it's a good bet. Perhaps, then, doing spellcheck is a
strategy for a particular market. And in the bargain, I'd bet that the
writer didn't gladly stick that rotten manual into her portfolio. Working
for a shoddy company produces a halo effect, too.

Tim Altom
Simply Written, Inc.
Featuring FrameMaker and the Clustar Method(TM)
"Better communication is a service to mankind."

>Could it be that, without even looking for them, at least one typo PER PAGE
>has reared its ugly head? That faux pas such as "You will see the same
>in you code," "This system are affected," and "Be careful not to move to
>quickly" are rampant? That somehow in recent years even book publishers
>to be dispensing with editors as an unnecessary luxury?
>Maybe it's just a personal problem. In the end it really shouldn't matter
>whether words are spelled correctly or properly used, as long as everyone
>understands what the writer means to say. After all, my friends who can't
>spell have been telling me this since third grade.
>Maybe their right. So what does it awl mean? Has the art dyed? Our proper
>grammar and spelling like the bell-bottoms whose time has come and gone?
>Should I start a national crusade against these Communist plot, or take
>refuge in a new career--perhaps one that uses Visual Basic instead off

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