Re: Distinctive writing style obfuscator

Subject: Re: Distinctive writing style obfuscator
From: Lauren <lauren -at- writeco -dot- net>
To: techwr-l -at- lists -dot- techwr-l -dot- com
Date: Fri, 25 Jun 2010 13:36:28 -0700

On 6/25/2010 9:57 AM, Combs, Richard wrote:
> Chris Morton:
>> Consider the second sentence in the prior paragraph.
> There ain't none. ;-)

Whew! I read the paragraph a few times looking for more than one
sentence. I thought I was missing something.

Back to the original post from Chris...

On 6/24/2010 3:01 PM, Chris Morton wrote:
> When compared with others in my present place of employment, I have a
> distinctive writing style. Would any of you know of a Homerific software
> utility that dumbs down text, making it appear as it may have been written
> by a neanderthal? Something like a ransom note, without all of the requisite
> paste-up work.

Most writers, professional and otherwise, do have a distinctive writing
style. Authors of published works, judges, critics, and other
recognizable authors depend on their writing styles for recognition in
their fields. Business writers, that include technical writers, on the
other hand, must adopt a neutral "voice" in their writing that offers no
indication of who the original author really is, although the
documentation should follow the style, or "corporate voice," of the
company that has hired the writer.

Professional business writers do not typically defend their writing
voice, but do tend to strive to make all the documentation they work
with reflect the tone and timber of the company signing their
paychecks. Typically, in my experience, the only way to determine what
writer authored a particular document is to look at the section of the
document that contains the author information, usually a document
information page.

Chris, what you are referring to as documentation that "may have been
written by a neanderthal" sounds like "plain language" documentation.
There is a modern trend to provide complex documentation in plain
language terms by the people who have professional knowledge and to the
people who are impacted by the documentation or who must understand the
content within the documentation. This trend is evident in legal
writing, government documentation, medical documentation, and technical
documentation, among other forms of documentation.

A U.S. Federal Government web site provides extensive material that
discusses the "plain language" mandates, provides examples that include
humorous examples, and gives suggestions for how to write in plain language.

Example of an IRS form that was re-written in plain language:

The PL web site also provides a 2000 ST article by Beth Mazurka about
the plain language trend.

Plain Language Association Inter National (PLAIN) was formed in 1993 to
advocate plain language documentation. PLAIN provides guidelines and
samples that include technical writing samples.

More links regarding plain language follow.

A good writer will write for the audience, but with the plain language
movement, most audiences are essentially the average person of average
intelligence with a limited understanding of the subject matter
discussed in the documentation. Many writers are also capable of
editing the writing of others to make the voice within multiple
documents by multiple writers consistent and neutral.

Chris, if you seriously need a tool that "dumb down" your documentation
and not that you were not just venting some frustration with your OP,
then perhaps you may want to reconsider your particular position. If I
were in your position, I would reassess my thinking out loud with my
full name on a public forum published on the Internet. I would try to
find some means to salvage my comments that the readers of my documents
are "neanderthals" who need documentation that resembles "a ransom note."

The market is a bit tough right now and it seems like career suicide to
publicly complain that you are the only person in a group of writers
with a "distinctive writing style" that requires a tool to convert your
writing into something that looks like a "neanderthal" wrote it. It is
almost like you have publicly, for the world to see, called the writers
you work with neanderthals. Linked In has a profile with your name that
makes it seem like you and I could be neighbors if that profile is
yours. Do you not think that your public venting about "grief" at your
"present place of employment" could pose issues for you?



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Re: Distinctive writing style obfuscator: From: David Neeley
Re: Distinctive writing style obfuscator: From: Chris Morton
RE: Distinctive writing style obfuscator: From: Combs, Richard

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