You don’t mean that

You even made Clippy cry.  Happy?
Every so often, I am called upon to cast a critical eye over my colleagues’ work.

Admittedly, report-writing isn’t an easy skill to master, but as long as you keep things simple and factual, you should get your point across. Unfortunately, several of my co-workers appear to believe that a real technical report should be as bafflingly opaque as possible.

I suspect that this is a direct consequence of their own experience with poorly-written documents and their efforts are simply an attempt to copy the style. As a result, a kind of report-writing cargo cult has evolved and I am regularly exposed to impenetrable examples of WTF such as the following:

…this document is to cover and address the capacity, including primary and secondary short-comings, with over-all network functionality assessment from a capacity point of view, and take into the alternative upgrades on the bulk reticulation can only be commented on until we receive the report…

We’d be better off employing spambots.


49 thoughts on “You don’t mean that

  1. Whatever happened to the ‘KISS’ Principle?

    The UK has fallen into that horrible trap of using nonsensical terminology, partly to be politically correct, to create job titles that make absolutely no sense whatsoever.

    I’m off to do some blue sky thinking before taking a brain dump as I don’t think I’m getting much stakeholder engagement here… 😀


  2. Of course, one must ensure that, whilst delivering constructive criticism, no one’s feelings are hurt or their self esteem injured. Right?


  3. As a translator, i’m often on the receiving end of such fine, *fine* bullshit, so let me thank you for this heroic effort.


    • You should attempt to address the discomfort by ingestion of an appropriately engineered pharmacological agent in combination with a physiological spatial adjustment and focussed quiescence.


  4. Can’t you see that this is perfect just the way it is..
    The whole point is to make the reader get a severe headache and have tears coming down their cheeks, that way the answer to whatever the project is, would be Ok.
    Always confuse the reader to the point of having them agree with you.
    Writing 101..confuse to defuse..


  5. I think you’re allowed to shoot people who write like that in the face, because it’s evidence that they are indeed a Cylon. And if HR has a problem with you summarily executing employees suspected Cylons, then show them a pie graph displaying how the short-term loss of productivity and shortage of staff offsets the larger long-term issue of possible cylon-engineered genocide of the human race. These are indeed bold steps.


  6. hey, I ran it through google translate a few times- first Japanese, then German, then back to English- and now it reads

    “… This document is intended to cover to address the capacity, bulk transport in the short and modernization alternative secondary mesh with respect to the amount of views, evaluation and networking for all, perhaps only the most important and we can not comment until I get a report”

    I think it actually makes more sense now.


  7. Dontcha just love an engineer’s ability to “non-report” i.e. write in a manner that not only absolves them of any responsibility or liability but shifts it onto someone else. Brilliant! I could use that skill but don’t know how to stay afloat in that much bullshit.


  8. Or you could translate it into Italian. It makes even less sense but listen how romantic it sounds……”Questo documento è quello di coprire e di affrontare le capacità, ossia primaria e secondaria short-venute, con over-ogni valutazione funzionalità di rete da un punto di vista della capacità, e tiene il upgrades alternative per l’erogazione bulk can only be fino a quando ha inserito un commento su we ricevere il rapporto” apparently upgrades don’t translate into Italian either.


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