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   Improved writing -- who's going to pay for it?

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  • From: Joseph Kesselman/Watson/IBM <keshlam@us.ibm.com>
  • To: xml-dev@lists.xml.org
  • Date: Tue, 10 Oct 2000 12:26:20 -0400

>So let's encourage - even demand - the standard writers to improve
>their writing

Remember, standards committees are made up of resources contributed by
member companies. Most companies would rather put manpower/mindpower into
developing the standard itself -- because they need to make sure it's
something they and their customers can live with henceforward -- than into
wordsmithing, and it isn't often that you find both strong  technical
skills and technical-writing skills in the same individual.

I'm sure W3C would _love_ to have someone fund them for some technical
writers who could help spec editors improve the readability of these docs,
and I'm sure most editors would appreciate the assistance.  Nobody writes
poorly deliberately. Specs are and always will be written for the
"experienced practitioner" -- and will tend to be terse as a result  -- but
there's certainly room to improve communication with that community, who
can then explain the implications to the less-experienced folks.

So: I agree with the sentiment, but I don't see anyone putting up the cash
needed to fix it. If you're volunteering to do so, contact the W3C.

[For what it's worth, the DOM spec has gotten some technical-writer review
from time to time, and it's been greatly appreciated. We may not always
agree with the details (I absolutely refuse to replace "can not" with
"cannot", though I'd settle for "can't"), but it's definitely helped flush
out some places where our description was fuzzy or awkward or incomplete.]

Joe Kesselman  / IBM Research


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