Imagine my excitement when I received the following email after subscribing to a magazine:
The latest edition of your magazine is now available. Print subscribers: your issue has just been put in the mail. Please watch for it in your mail box in the coming days.
Woo hoo! I would soon be receiving my first printed issue of the magazine. Oh boy, I could hardly wait.
But I did wait. And waited, and waited, and waited some more.
Finally, after waiting about a month, I called customer service. The service rep checked his computer-database thingy, and proclaimed that due to the way new subscriptions are processed, my first edition would not be arriving for another week.
In the words – the email I received was a bald-faced lie. I suggested to him that, er, maybe he should look into this, because it’s “rather disconcerting” to receive an email stating something which is, in fact, not true.
Which was a polite way of saying that the magazine had done a piss-poor job integrating their mailing and emailing systems.
This is a common problem. It happens because there are two types of information in this world:
- Type A: officially distributed information
- Type B: the true version of Type A
Because most of the people running organizations are not technical communicators, they have no problem mixing up these types. They will cheerfully send out information they know is incorrect, with the mantra that “hey, nobody reads these things anyway, so what’s the point in trying to get it right?”
As technical communicators, this should make our blood boil, if not explode. Creating, sending or distributing inaccurate or false information is a crime against humanity. Unfortunately, we are the only judges and prosecutors for these transgressions. We’re also ultimately the only ones who care enough to make it right and have the skills to do so.
But for now, I’m dropping the charges.