use of the word "appears"

Subject: use of the word "appears"
From: mpriestley -at- VNET -dot- IBM -dot- COM
Date: Tue, 1 Feb 1994 11:02:11 EST

Arthur, you wrote:
>Michael, I think you put your foot in it by saying that sometimes one
>part of the code causes a dialog box to appear and sometimes another,
>and "appears" covers both. THAT's the problem with "appears." It allows
>the writer to ignore the question of what's really happening. And,
>active or not, it is a word that we commonly use to denote a magical

Perhaps I should have provided more context for my statement.
Here is an example:

"The Results window appears automatically at the end of the grundfindle
process." This would appear as part of the help for the Results window,
if that help were being accessed from the help library (rather than
directly from the Results window).

Another example, in a task help: "Select Nextwindow. The Confirm window
appears, for you to confirm that you want to display Nextwindow. Select
OK in the Confirm window to display the Nextwindow."

Note that I do use display sometimes. But I don't think it would be
appropriate to say "select Nextwindow to display the confirm window"
because that is not the user's intent. The confirm window is incidental.

I'm not sure where your prejudice against "appears" comes from. I don't
think of it as having any magical connotations. My dictionary
lists it as "1. To come into sight"; none of its other definitions are
any more suggestive of magic.

Certainly it is important to give the user useful information. I feel that
I do that. Using the word "appears" allows me to be flexible and concise
in how I convey that information.

With respect to dialog boxes, I think it is always clear from the context
(which I am not going to exhaustively reproduce here) that the application
in question is generating the window. Any time it isn't clear, I would make
it explicit. If I didn't, the fault would be in me as a writer, not in any
innate failure of the word "appears".

Thanks for the ongoing discussion,

Michael Priestley
mpriestley -at- vnet -dot- ibm -dot- com
Information Developer
IBM Canada

Previous by Author: Usability Seminar
Next by Author: use of the word "invokes"
Previous by Thread: Re: STC competition
Next by Thread: use of the word "invokes"

What this post helpful? Share it with friends and colleagues:

Sponsored Ads