Writing question

Alexey I. Fuchs c0654038 at TECHST02.TECHNION.AC.IL
Sun Nov 14 13:06:45 UTC 1999

Please, do not offend programmers. You show a clear case of Wellerism.
The market is overloaded with books on computers written by illiterate
money-seekers. Work with the computers requires some effort. The user
wants to make everything with one finger. The fact that a system, or a
program, or an application is made for the user does not mean that it is
made for an idiot. If you want to drive a car, even with automatic gears,
you have to _learn_ to do it, though it may seem very simple.
Now, you complain you cannot _learn_ because the muddles are impenetrable.
I admit there are jerks in the field who don't care about how the
documentation is written, but this is not the usual case with commercial
products, for support costs much more than development. In good companies,
documentation is written by people who are specially trained for that.
Take Microsoft as an example: they create profitable, user-friendly, easy
to use crap, which, in fact, is not worth a penny. But look at the
documentation: it is brilliant. The user goes crazy.
The point is: just pay attention. Even if a programmer is not skilled in
writing, his grammatically incorrect sentences are logically impeccable.
I beg your pardon, if I slide off the rail, but this issue is hurtful.
And if I see a "computer genius," who writes "press button if not open
window to double-click when scheduler process open dialog boxes," it
pisses me off not less, for it is true that the program is even more
unusable when it lacks documentation.

The best manuals are written by the best experts.
Best books for kids are not written by kids or even by writers-by-chance.
Think of Jacob Grimm and J.R.R.Tolkien.

Sorry again,


On Fri, 12 Nov 1999, Bob Fitzke wrote:

> Pafra & Scott Catledge wrote:
> > >
> > > I wouldn't be happy if English majors with no training in computers
> > > tried to create an operating system I would have to use on my computer.
> > > Why should I be forced to accept the impenetrable muddles written by
> > > computer geniuses with no knowledge of writing?
> > >
> > > -- mike salovesh                    <salovesh at niu.edu>
> > > PEACE !!!
> >
> > You hit the nail on the head; I always prattle on that the best "how-to"
> > manuals are written by a naive writer with the expert assistance of
> > someone in the field.
> My view has been that computer instructions are written by folks who want to
> globally explain everything  the computer can do. They should be written from
> the perspective of the user, the person who wants to do something specific.
> And far too often the instructions use several words for the same item or
> thing; a practice that would screw up a program these instruction-writers
> would construct.  When you think about it, it boggles the mind that thousands
> of teachers daily and successfully give instructions to millions of kids about
> how to do things they, the kids, have never done before. At a fraction of what
> these computer types are paid.

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