A rant about excessive use of acronyms


I am making a personal plea to contributors to Instructables to please, refrain from using acronyms! The same goes for submitted comments.
I am not a total novice in computer hardware or programming, but I frequently get caught struggling to understand an instructable or comment because of a needless use of acronyms. Think how someone new to instructables , with little or no background, must feel. I understand that there are times acronyms are used for brevity, but surely a simple explanation of the acronym when first using it would be a help for all readers. In fact a list of acronyms to be used and the meaning of each wouldn't be a bad idea! 
The purpose of an instructable (in my opinion) is to pass on a tip, a procedure or even to teach your reader how to do something that you think is worthwhile. An excessive use of acronyms with no explanation/definition strikes me as counterproductive.

That makes me feel better, nothing like a good RANT!


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db_lewis3 months ago

AP Style book taught me to write it out on first reference with the acronym in parentheses following: Bay Area News Group (BANG).

cobourgdave (author) 3 months ago

hey iceng, sorry for the delay in responding. You got me! dimensional items are sometimes acronyms. You could say I am Hz (Hertz) by your poem. However you floored me with mohs , which I looked up:
Moh (Sanskrit muh: “to become stupefied, to be bewildered or perplexed, to err, to be mistaken”) stands in ancient texts for perplexity or confusion as also for the cause of confusion)
Ironic what? I do understand that you meant to type Mhos or conductance, which in my opinion is also a joke from the past and a play on Ohm

iceng3 months ago

I'm only an EE who likes the ckt story about an evil amp that took an electron for a ride on his megacycle and parked in the magnetic field where he overcame her resistance as she cried moh moh and now it goes into expletives that ar best deleted..

d_duck3 months ago

I agree with your comment. I'm not sure about technical writing today or if it's still the norm in the advanced technical writing, but there used to be a standard when using an acronym the first time to write the full nomenclature in parenthesis. After that, just the acronym is used. This assures that everybody knows what it means and the author can feel assured that using just the acronym is then acceptable.

.

cobourgdave (author) 3 months ago
Hi, thanks for your thoughtful comment. Having swam in waters rich with acronyms for many years, I agree that when writing for people that share your background, acronyms are quite necessary. However, when writing an instructable, you are most likely not writing to an audience with your background. In my own situation, I read instructables that vary from cooking to Arduino applications, to mold making, to woodworking, paper folding and on and on! I don't think that I am unique here. When I come across an acronym, I open a second window and use Google to search on the acronym, BUT when I come across an instructable entitled something like, "using the drk app on the xyz module to implement baffle gab when ironing shirts", I don't even look! Too little time, so many other interesting instructables. Not polite to the author, who probably wonders about the lack of response.
Downunder35m3 months ago

I can only understand ou rant to some degree here as the use of them is simply a matter of our fast time and people with too much in their brains ;)
For example if I talk about replacing the central processing unit in a personal computer most people might think I am nuts.
But if I say to replace the CPU in the PC they know what I am talking about.
Same story for other things:
If you write an Instructable about making some fancy light gimmick than I guess you run tired of writing about light emitting diodes all the time and might want to use the term LED instead.
Even worse when it comes to serious things like a repairing a dimmer or power circuit.
I simply assume that most people would struggle finding a metal oxide semiconductor field-effect transistor but the same people will have no problem finding a MOSFET.

I know where you are coming from and I work in a place where the use of acronyms has gone so far that not even the managers know their meaning anymore.
Guess for people making too good use of acronyms it is like for us calling that device used to see through solid walls a window.... ;)

Ysabeau3 months ago

I can't do less than agreeing. Thank you.