Microsoft’s “No more robot speak” in action

 

Our post about how Microsoft is changing its writing style (Microsoft moves away from “robot speak” in its user documentation) generated a lot of interest, so I thought it might be useful to post some examples of it that we’ve spotted.

These examples are from Office 365 Premium Edition.

“Almost there”:

robotspeak3

Using emoticons:

micrsoftrobotspeak1

Here is the email that’s added to any new Team Site mailbox you create. Notice how it says “it will land” :

robotspeak2

Notice also how most of the assistance is embedded into the software itself, rather than in a separate Help topic. The final example provides a link to a Help topic – What’s a site mailbox and how can I use it? This is written in the style of an article, rather than a traditional Help topic.

Not everything is perfect. This message in OneDrive for Business isn’t very useful. Cloud-based applications often mean you don’t have a Helpdesk administrator:

robotspeak4

If you’d like to know more about how organisations are changing the way they write and deliver Help, see details on our course Trends in Technical Communication Course – Advanced Technical Writing Techniques, which is being held on the 9th December 2014.

4 Comments

Paul O

Re the “Use a site mailbox” Help page.
Last month you reported Microsoft as saying that “moving to a plain English style helped … reduce the number of words in each topic.”
Their new-style Help page contradicts that. The text is full of redundant words — “on a fairly regular basis” instead of “regularly”, “documents of some kind” instead of “documents”, “somewhere down the line” instead of later.
Perhaps this is meant to be Microsoft’s more informal, conversational tone of voice (the other change they promised). But surely it’s possible to be informal without being so verbose …

Paul O

Re: The use of emoticons. This assumes you know what the user’s experience (and their reaction) is. That might not be the case. For example, I often see a message in my Junk folder in Outlook: “You don’t have any items here (hooray!)”. Yes, but in my case, the only reason that my Junk folder is empty — and that that message is displayed — is because I have just deleted the fifty spam emails in it, after looking through them to find any misplaced genuine email. So my reaction isn’t “hooray” or 🙂

Ellis Pratt

Microsoft adopted a triage approach, setting strict time limits on the work in each section, simply due to the volume of content they have. That may be the reason why.

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