I couldn't pass this writeup without making a few observations. When I was teaching, students in my computer classes were saddled with all kinds of rules, like beginning every sentence with a capital letter -- unless there was very good reason to start it otherwise. If some of them would complain that the rules just weren't fair, I'd have to agree with them, but fairness is a rare commodity in the universe. I might also observe in passing that these were not grammatical rules but stylistic ones.

Later, I worked as a writer for a couple of computer companies where the emphasis had to be on clarity, or our clients would not get the program to work. I maintain that one of the reasons so many tech manuals are so difficult to use is because they were written by technicians who didn't know much about writing except computer code. If these guys wrote code like they wrote English, the program would never work either.

But why be so tight-assed about it? First, if one doesn't follow certain conventions, the writer comes off sounding like a lazy retard. Prospective employers don't want people representing the company who sound ignorant, because it reflects on their product or service. In rare cases the very talented are exempt from the rules, but if you are only moderately intelligent, it's a good idea to follow the rules. Otherwise you are likely to spend most of your life parking cars for a living. If that isn't important, then by all means be very creative in the use of language. I imagine it works that way in E2. If you don't care whether your w/u will be retained for a theoretical posterity, then write as you like and ignore the conventions accepted here.

Speaking of clarity, in the short time I've been around here I've seen a number of writeups where I'd be hard pressed to explain what the writer was trying to say, owing to his or her very creative use of the English language. It would be criminal if the writers' thoughts were truly valuable, but they were obscured because they failed to express them clearly. I agree that the text should flow, but the unexpected and unconventional use of language breaks that flow. If you are a James Joyce, then a stream of consciousness is beautiful to read. But if that stream is a dry river bed, there can't be too much to admire.

I guess my response is primarily a reaction to words like "pompous" or "crude" which were used in the previous writeup. Language has an innate beauty, whether it's English or Sumerian. I am distressed when someone proposes to mutilate that beauty and obscure that clarity for reasons that are less than honorable.

Alert: First posting. Please be tolerant I’ve always thought that it is much easier to accept grammatical or spelling errors on screen than it is on paper. Conversely, it is a lot easier to spot errors on paper than it is on-screen. I’m going to extend this personal view to a more general experience, and conclude that it is therefore natural for people who live their lives through screens—television, computer, phone, PDA— to have less respect for the minutiae of the English language than it is for those of us who spent our formative years absorbing information through printed media. Despite twenty years or more of using computers and screens to write, edit and correct text, I always find more errors when I check a print-out than when I simply look on screen. Using a spellchecker and viewing on-screen is fine for most forms of communication: it’s easy to get things 99.9 percent right that way. If, however, you want to go that little bit further, and get everything right—or have the errors counted in parts per million—then you need to make a print-out, and to have it read by three or four people. Then, of course, you have to make sure that those people don’t try to change the style, or the meaning, or the words, but that is a separate issue.

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