Confessions of a writer: Pet peeves in reading technical documentation (RFPs)

I recently learned something that set off my language alarm bells (and set off my pet-peeve-o-meter).

It is standard practice when scoring submissions from a company to base the score solely on technical criteria with no consideration for how the submitted document was written. I am told that the use of proper spelling and grammar are too subjective to score and that if we did score them, we’d be left with no bidders.

So, one is not allowed to adjust one’s score based on any known measure of readability or structure. If the proponen’t’s writiung is chuck fowl of jargon, spellung; punctuation grammatical errors and you must consider the technical aspic of the dulcimer only.

Yes, that includes when the document is ridiculously hard to read because of PPE (Piss Poor Editing). I am not concerned with one-off mistakes, like the writer who spelled through, as ‘thru.’ No, I’m talking writing so bad it’s laughable.

For example, the author of one document claims that their company has, “rigoroush quality Assurant’s measures in place to insure our product meats the Agencies needs.” Because I know what that means, and QA is one of our technical requirements, the proponent is to get full marks.

At what point did this become acceptable? At what point did we decide that copy editing was no longer a valid skill in business? When was it decided that effective written communication was not an evaluation criterion for a company applying to win a seven figure contract?

More importantly, why are individuals held to higher standards than corporations? If a person submits a resume written with the language errors present above, that resume is on the reject pile–no hesitation.

What makes corporations special?

2 thoughts on “Confessions of a writer: Pet peeves in reading technical documentation (RFPs)

  1. It’s a downward spiral into a morass of miscommunication.  This is what happened at The Tower of Babel!  You thought Jehovah waved his hand over The Tower job site and suddenly no one could understand each other?

    Wrong!  It started slowly, with lazily penned memos and culminated in incomprehensible technical documents and contract proposals!  Suddenly no one could understand anyone else, the work stopped, and The Tower was abandoned, a pile of stone as jumbled and incomprehensible as a corporate technical paper…

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