How Not To Write Comprehensibly

Here’s a new rule by which I think that everyone should at least try to abide in their blogging: unless you are writing for exclusively specialists, whenever you make use of an initialism, take a few seconds to spell-out what that initialism actually stands for. Seriously: this is beyond obnoxious. It can reduce what should be a simple concept to a string of impenetrable jargon, and a difficult conept to pure gibberish. I don’t believe that anyone who has a blog is actually so busy that they don’t have time to type-in an explanation, so by all means do so!

This, of course, goes double for those of you writing about relatively obscure subjects, because in these cases, it can often take a nontrivial amount of googling to find translations. To cite an example near and dear to my heart, reading-up on transgender issues is made immeasurably more difficult by the fact that far too many bloggers just drop initialisms like “HBS,” “WBW,” “WBT,” or “CT,” which translate respectively as “Harry Benjamin Standards,” “Womyn-Born-Womyn,” “Woman-Born-Transsexual” and “Classic Transsexual.” Trying to find this through googling, however, just turns-up: “Harvard Business School,” “World Breastfeeding Week,” “Web-Based Training” and “Connecticut.”

And finally, even if you don’t think your initialism is obscure, translate it anyways, because not everyone comes from the same cultural context. I’m sure most Canadians know, for example, what CRTC stands for (or at least, in general terms, what it is and what it does), but I bet most of my international readers have no idea.


About thevenerablecorvex

I have the heart of a poet, the brain of a theoretical physicist, and the wingspan of an albatross. I am also notable for my humility.
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2 Responses to How Not To Write Comprehensibly

  1. Alex says:

    Some parts of the blogosphere prefer the elite “in the know” touch.

  2. E A M Harris says:

    What you say sounds like common sense to me – unless, as Alex suggests, the writer is aiming for élitism. Or maybe doesn’t want to admit that s/he doesn’t know what the initials stand for.

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