Re: Using Humor Judiciously

Subject: Re: Using Humor Judiciously
From: Jim Grey <jimgrey -at- IQUEST -dot- NET>
Date: Tue, 21 May 1996 09:16:00 EST

The ...For Dummies books are aimed at folks intimidated by their computers.*
Much of the humor in those books pokes fun at the computer industry or at
the inanities of the software at hand. Such humor is used to make the
reader feel as though the author understands them and is on their side.
This helps the reader feel less intimidated. (Dummies authors occasionally
can't resist inserting some humor that falls outside this boundary.)

(* This is part of the original Dummies philosophy, which is still followed
for the "core" end-user software Dummies books. IDG has modified the
Dummies philosophy to fit the expanded Dummies line, which now includes
programming topics and non-computer topics.)

That said, even if I were writing a set of manuals that included a guide for
the intimidated, I wouldn't use Dummies-style humor. It's very hard to make
light of failings in the software when *your* company produced the software.

Arlen Walker made a point about hiding humor in examples. This Easter-egg
approach is probably the most ready way to use humor in documentation,
because the humor is orthogonal to the instructions. I'm with him; I love
to see humorous example text or suble puns in filenames.

(Editor of _Macs For Dummies, 3rd Edition_)
jim grey |beebeebumbleandthestingersmottthehoopleraycharlessingers
jimgrey -at- iquest -dot- net|lonniemackandtwangin'eddiehere'smyringwe'regoingsteadyta

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