"But the difference between the mistake of a competent writer, and the absurd effusions of one ignorant concerning his topic, is very marked."Here's the whole article for your #techcomm amusement:
Misleading Technical Writing
The above is the caption of an opportune editorial in the American Machinist.
The writer quotes, for example, two answers to questions, taken from contemporaries, which are, he claims, misleading and absurd. He deplores, and rightly, too, the fact that publishers of technical journals will maintain departments without competent editors.
The position of the American Machinist is, of course, correct in this matter.
If only well-informed men were to read the writings of the would-be teacher of what he himself does not understand, little harm might follow, except the loss of the reader's time—and temper. But it is the uninformed that have the greatest need of the technical Journals' helpfulness, and, therefore, to be misinformed through this channel is, to such, a great misfortune, and an inexcusable outrage.
Of course, as the editor says, all writers will make mistakes; and, it may be added, they will also speedily correct them if they know how.
But the difference between the mistake of a competent writer, and the absurd effusions of one ignorant concerning his topic, is very marked.
It is the duty of the technical journal to teach the best practice, and for a publisher to be careless in this respect is dishonorable.
We have read articles on foundry practice, written by men who, of course, were strangers to the "sand-heap," whose only merit was that they afforded amusement to the knowing reader. These could be excused but for the fact that the unknowing must he misled.
Obviously, this evil is hard to combat; but it will be well to publish wide the fact that it exists, and so, wise publishers will therefore be on the alert to weed out the incompetent members of tbeir staff.
The Foundry, Volume 13 -- 1898