Better Writing

  • I would agree 100%.

    Often, I have to complete change control request forms and incident reports. Most of the time these are read by non technical staff - usually Customer Services - so need to be as clear and precise as possible.

  • Steve,

    I agree 100% with this claim. Since high school I have always known that writing is not my forte. Because I know this is my weakness, it always distracts more me when reading articles and seeing errors that I know to be grammatical incorrect.

    To me, the most common error seems to be when someone uses the word "however". The word "however" requires a comma before and after use, unless starting or ending a sentence with the word, than a period is required. However, authors of technical articles often leave the comma out, and I end up saying "However-COMMA", in my head, distracting me further from the point of the authors message.

    Also writing short to-the-point paragraphs is preferred. Usually three to four sentences as business professionals often feel they don't have time for more. I think this rings especially in the IT industry, as our attention spans seem to be smaller than the rest.

    Lastly, for most of us the grammatical errors we commit can easily be avoided if we simply proof read before we posted.

    Thank you for starting this conversation.

  • Reliance on spell check is a big part of the problem. When I cast stones, I judge an editorial differently than its comments section. This problem is much more widespread than IT professionals. You can tell why the errors occur sometimes. Using cut-n-paste is another big contributor.

    I corrected that short paragraph at least ten times! It was still terrible writing. I'll stick to my day job. 😛

  • Wow. Where to begin.

    There are two types of "poor writers", and I'm using that term loosely. The first is the lazy people. Who don't take the time to spell check, or make sure their sentence makes sense. The second is the people who truly struggle with writing the English language. (I fall in this category)

    There is a problem though. Quite often the second group is merged with the first group. (I know that no matter how much time I spend making my sentences, correct and no matter how much I improve my writing, there will still be someone who will pick on my grammar usage, lack of correct comma placement, or word choice.) And nobody thinks to tell the struggling writer that they have improved over time.

    Content should be the first thing a post, article, or forum response should be judged by. Otherwise the poor writer who has great ideas will never share them.

    Note: I spent half an hour on this response. I used a product called Ginger to make sure my grammar and spelling was accurate.

    I know you are not attacking me personally, but someone needs to stand up for the poor writer... Because they are afraid to have their writing judged.

    Mickey Stuewe
    Sr Database Developer
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  • SQLMickey (1/20/2014)


    Content should be the first thing a post, article, or forum response should be judged by. Otherwise the poor writer who has great ideas will never share them.

    Not sure if I agree, depending on your exact point. In general I do agree though. I assume you are saying that content is more important than minor grammer and spelling issues - defintely!

    However, what I can't stomach are those people who have no ability to communicate, making post after post that are meaningless, have major glaring holes in the "step by step" instructions they claim to provide, and generally cause more pain to my eyes than sharp needles!

    OK, maybe not needles, but you almost certainly know what I mean. If not, just Google something about Windows 8, and choose a MS forum. Most of their employees can't spell USA, URL or OS.

    When I Google anything, the first thing I do is check the name of the site. Sites like SQLServerCentral are ALWAYS my first choice. Second, third, fourth, maybe even fifth!

    Dave

  • SQLMickey (1/20/2014)


    I know you are not attacking me personally, but someone needs to stand up for the poor writer... Because they are afraid to have their writing judged.

    Personally, even where I spot grammatical errors or occasional spelling errors (including using the wrong phonetically equal word e.g. their and there) I don't think badly of the writer. Sometimes, though, a writer doesn't make the minimal effort. Often you can look at what is written and tell it is not the author's first language. In which case "hats off to them" (well done) as they are better at English than I am in any other language.

    Whilst writers should take more care, perhaps readers should also be more considerate.

    Gaz

    -- Stop your grinnin' and drop your linen...they're everywhere!!!

  • Personally while I would expect excellent spelling and grammar from items written for articles and blogs I am not so critical of spelling mistakes in places like forums. Spelling mistakes should not hopefully change the meaning of the idea being conveyed.

    It can be tricky where pronouns articles(as in a / the etc) are accidentally omitted as this can totally change the meaning of a sentence.

    We must remember however in some of the forums that we participate English may not be the native language of a significant number of participants. Despite this they make the effort to communicate often with poor grammar and spelling. Generally however anyone's second language is better than my foreign languages so I would tend to take them seriously. If someone can write in another language it is very likely that they are open minded and intelligent and while it may be difficult to determine what they are trying to say I am inclined to take them seriously. In all likelihood people who can speak or are trying to write in another language are showing openeness and I would want to return that position.

    Besides which shouldn't you listen to everyone, gracefully surrender things to youth and consider kindly the counsel of your elders.

    You never know who will come up with a gem.

  • I would consider myself a reasonably competent writer, English is my first language and I've been writing for years. I still, when I submit something for review, get it back with comments on punctuation (I tend to abuse commas) and phrasings, the occasional incorrect word and the odd spelling mistake. That's even with Word's spelling and grammar checks on. Perfect writing, without an editor, is hard. Damn hard.

    If anyone doesn't believe me, write up a short article and ask someone to edit it for you. 🙂

    Gail Shaw
    Microsoft Certified Master: SQL Server, MVP, M.Sc (Comp Sci)
    SQL In The Wild: Discussions on DB performance with occasional diversions into recoverability

    We walk in the dark places no others will enter
    We stand on the bridge and no one may pass
  • It may only get worse! I have heard of schools here in the US removing spelling from the teaching curriculum. They insist that they teach spelling through writing!

  • CGSJohnson (1/21/2014)


    It may only get worse! I have heard of schools here in the US removing spelling from the teaching curriculum. They insist that they teach spelling through writing!

    Over here in the UK spelling was no longer being corrected at school but there have been a recent u-turn on that. Of course, some schools ignore such edicts. Personally, if I were a teacher I would have to correct incorrect spelling for the sake of my own sanity!!!

    Gaz

    -- Stop your grinnin' and drop your linen...they're everywhere!!!

  • I taught Introduction to Programming for a couple of semesters (evening, adult bachelors level). One of the things I emphasized was having well-commented code, but I would mark down for poor grammar. I always wonder why we (and I include myself in this group) find it so difficult to write complete sentences in code comments, or leave out the single vowel in a word. Although I did once work with a woman who's philosophy was "We are born with a limited number of keystrokes, so don't waste them." :crazy:

    Tom

  • CGSJohnson (1/21/2014)


    It may only get worse! I have heard of schools here in the US removing spelling from the teaching curriculum. They insist that they teach spelling through writing!

    I assume it depends on the area. My local schools don't teach spelling, but they have a spelling test each week up to 5th grade.

    On the don't teach part - they won't teach the kids how to spell a word, answer a question about how to spell it, or anything else. They put a list on a web page, expect the child to download it and memorize it. Basic rules about "I" and "E" are NOT taught at all! My kids knew nothing about rules until I taught them.

    I have previously stated that there are some outstanding teachers today. Unfortunately they are becoming far, far less common. The average teacher today doesn't have a clue how to teach, doesn't know the subjects they teach, and spends the majority of the day pushing their social/political agenda. Those teachers that are able to run a classroom and impart true knowledge to their class stand out like a sore thumb. Why? Because they are about as rare.

    Their reasoning on spelling is that computers know how to spell. Unfortunately the classes they offer on using a computer are a joke. They are "teaching" skills that kids learned years ago, and trying to pass it off as education.

    Dave

  • djackson 22568 (1/21/2014)


    ...Basic rules about "I" and "E" are NOT taught at all!...

    Trouble with that is that the heuristic is misleading. In the Oxford English Dictionary there are more words with the spelling "...cie..." than "...cei...".

    Gaz

    -- Stop your grinnin' and drop your linen...they're everywhere!!!

  • Gary Varga (1/21/2014)


    djackson 22568 (1/21/2014)


    ...Basic rules about "I" and "E" are NOT taught at all!...

    Trouble with that is that the heuristic is misleading. In the Oxford English Dictionary there are more words with the spelling "...cie..." than "...cei...".

    Misleading, maybe. However the basic portion of "i before e exept after c" and "not weigh and neighbor" have ensured I spell words with "i and e" correctly 99% of the time. I will accept those rare words spelled wrong. This heuristic (is that what it is called???) helps for the main words we use.

    Dave

  • I was doing some work in Lightswitch the other day VS2013 and I note that in the schema diagram after you have named a table Contact it will automatically make it plural in the schema diagram ie it becomes Contacts. It seems to do this for most table names.

    Great but seems an unnecessary additional overhead for little gain. I think I understand that if I name a table something and I put multiple records in some way the content of the table can be said to be plural. I have seen myself pluralise table names myself occasionally.

    I haven't tested yet what happens with things like uncountable nouns but I do know it corrects address adding es. Does VS2013 have a database of english words that allows it to plurailise things correctly (eg sheep). Additionally given that MS is a gobal company what happens for all the other language translations. Also is this an alias or is it the new name of the table - in code will I get an error if I refer to the table as changed or should I stick with the original name?

    I'm just saying relying on predictive spelling databases seems excessive and can introduce other problems I prefer not to use them and whats more would prefer not to be forced into having them implemented on my behalf.

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