The curse of badly written blogs

As a frequent blogger, I take great interest in other blogs, especially those who offer coverage of topics that interest me, such as Exchange and Office 365, or even military history, if it comes to that. Recently, it seems that many of the blogs that cover Exchange (in particular) are not as strong as they were once.

The situation is worse with blogs that proclaim themselves to be “guru” or “expert”, a self-awarded status that is not merited or earned on the basis of the content offered.

Some of the published content is OK, if only it was not obscured by poor writing and opaque grammar. When I started to write articles and books about technology, my editors hammered home the lesson that I should always make sure that the reader knows what object is the actor in a situation. Scattering “it” into a sentence and expecting the reader to understand what “it” means in the presented context requires the mind of a lawyer.

Another horrible habit that is all too prevalent is the termination of a sentence without explaining a statement. Here’s an example of an opening sentence from a blog post that I selected at random:

Exchange 2016 and 2013 are processor hungry so it is very important to size the processors correctly.”

Two issues exist here. First, we have the leading statement that Exchange 2016 and Exchange 2013 are both processor hungry without any evidence being offered that this assertion is correct. Are these versions more demanding of processor power than Exchange 2010 is? If so, a citing of some reliable evidence provided by a competent party would be appropriate. In other words, it’s not good enough to make a statement and assume that the reader understands what “processor hungry” means without providing some way for the reader to understand why this condition exists. In addition, what processor does this statement refer to? I assume it’s a server CPU, but even that is somewhat nebulous given the current state of CPU technology when cores might be a more important issue to focus upon.

The next problem is the statement “it is very important to size the processors correctly.” First, no explanation is offered as to why such importance is attached to this activity. Will the world stop if we fail to size processors correctly? Or will the Exchange servers slow down a little, or a lot, or fail to operate at all? The writer would have done much better had some additional context been provided. For instance: “to ensure optimal performance, it’s important that any server running Exchange is correctly configured with properly-sized processor capacity.” OK, we use more words, but I suggest that the meaning is obvious.

I also hate failure to copy edit, especially because I often fall into this trap myself in an effort to get something out the door in time. However, it doesn’t take a lot of time to read text over to look for obvious flaws, such as the first letter of “Exchange” not being capitalized to tell us that the word refers to the server product rather than an interchange of some sort. Copy editing also identifies impenetrable sentences that are often a dump from the author’s mind. The text makes perfect sense to the writer but requires several readings before someone else can understand what’s going on. Take this example from the same article:

“This was my lab so we didn’t get any issue as load is minimum but try it in your production and let us know and give 5 starts to Marc if it helps.”

After several readings, I conclude that the meaning is:

The example shown above was run in my lab environment. No issue was encountered because of the minimum load placed on servers in that environment. You can try running the script in your production environment to see what results you obtain. Let us know how you get on and please do recognize the script author if you find that his work helps.”

Of course, the advice to run a script in a production environment is not the course of action that any experienced administrator would take. You should always test a script downloaded from the Internet in a sandbox environment to make sure that it cannot do anything harmful before you let it anywhere near production servers. The sentence cited above is a classic example of a throwaway remark that is badly thought through and badly formatted that could lead to someone doing something that they regret, all because they read some advice contained in a blog.

Please don’t stop writing blogs. It’s great to share your experience and knowledge with others. But please remember that your work will be so much better if you are clear, concise, and accurate. You’ll benefit by writing better and your readers will absolutely benefit from your work. It’s a win-win situation.

Follow Tony on Twitter @12Knocksinna


About Tony Redmond

Lead author for the Office 365 for IT Pros eBook and writer about all aspects of the Office 365 ecosystem.
This entry was posted in Exchange, Writing. Bookmark the permalink.

3 Responses to The curse of badly written blogs

  1. TF says:

    Also blogs that only exist to post links to OTHER blogs!

  2. Joe says:

    I also hate when writers use clichés: getting work out the door, dumping content from their mind, finding win-win situations, hammering home points, fingering their own buttonholes, etc.

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