Ladies and gentlemen, I believe I’m finally ready to write my first-ever SavetheSemicolon [STSC] rant. If you’re here looking for great advice about tech (and other) writing, today is not your day.
Lately (and not so lately), I’ve been advising anyone who asks to take more advantage of the Internet. And when I haven’t checked in for a while, I advise myself to do so, too.
Now more than ever, the Internet is a great place to learn about tech writing, because there are so many people putting their knowledge, experience, successes, and even failures on display.
Every day there are hundreds of links, articles, images, suggestions, and tips created for anyone who’s interested
Honestly, I think it’s fantastic. Any tech writer who’s not hooked in to blogs, Twitter, and LinkedIn conversations (and more, more more!) is missing out on a tremendous resource.
And yet, it can be annoying.
So many people are so driven by the desire to get eyeballs on their web pages, that they’ll say anything, no matter how inane, in order to be seen.
I don’t mean that tech writers are posting pictures of naked women, or animals dressed as 18th century literary characters (though I wouldn’t put it past some of them). I mean that they’ll post articles filled with platitudes and empty, obvious, advice. “Reach for the stars” kind of stuff.
They’ll comment on other people’s blog posts, carefully adding a link to their own site, but not adding to the discussion.
“I think that tech writers are important, and should be respected.”
“Great article, I also write about tech writing on my site.”
“Tech writing should help people. It should communicate technical information.”
Maybe those examples aren’t telling the story I want to tell, so let me say it a different way.
When I read a comment, post, or tweet, I want to know more than I knew before I started. Or at least, I want to know that I could have learned something, had I not already known it.
Failing that, I want to be amused.
But if the comment, post, or tweet, is just filler, written in order to write SOMETHING / ANYTHING, then I’ve wasted my time and I end up writing posts like this one. (Which means that I may be wasting your time, too!) And let me tell you, if I’ve wasted my time, I won’t be reading your comments, posts, or tweets any more.
Of course, anyone with the amazing discernment to be reading STSC wouldn’t fill the Internet with vacuous pap, so I’m not talking to you. But please, help the world by not continuing to visit sites (or click links) created by people who aren’t really here to help. We want practical, or inspirational, stuff. Not the ums and ahs of people who can’t stand their own silence.
My advice is this: If you consistently have something helpful or amusing to say, get a blog! If you only rarely have something helpful to say, don’t get a blog. Instead, send your occasional stuff to me (or one of the hundreds of others writing out there), and I’ll publish it as a guest post.
What do you think? Have I let this get to me more than I should? Or am I exactly right on? Or… have I scared away anyone who would otherwise have commented?