By Leah Scampoli
Recently, there was a thread on the STC LinkedIn Group called “Don’t Touch it!; Technical Writers Have a Sense on Humor.” Although the title referenced an oddly documented (and possibly constructed) vacuum cleaner, I like to think of the title of the discussion thread more as exhibit A that we aren’t serious grammar police all the time.
I’m sure we’ve all got some comedy material about the Oxford comma. We keep some crumpled unintentionally hilarious instruction printout somewhere in our desk. We laugh at Scott Adams’ Tina the Technical Writer’sexasperation. Besides a knowledge of communication best practices and what DITA is, humor about technical writing is one of the things that bonds us communicators together.
I know that it’s one of the things I’ve missed not working in a technical writing team these last couple years–and one of the things I’m looking forward to starting my new job with a large tech writing department.
Humor is not always the best reaction, however. I remember during my first writing job, an important email from the department head had gone out with a wrong hyperlink. An annoyed and frantic co-worker hurriedly explained the situation to me, as I hadn’t worked on the original email. I heartily laughed (to re-emphasize, wrong reaction) and told her that due to everyone clicking the wrong link, it had overloaded the server. Sensing she didn’t share my amusement (tough crowd!), I quickly shifted gears to explain how we could update the website’s link to match the email’s link while the server was recovering without anyone being the wiser.
So, you can see that with my tendency for nervous joking, I was happy that there’s evidence of other technical communicators who have a sense of humor. Now I just have to find the right moment to launch into my joke about DITA Von Teese, the XML data burlesque model.