I recently finished David Meerman Scott’s book The New Rules of Marketing and PR. In it, he has some sections on Gobbledygook which, of course, is produced by
…writers [who] use the same words and phrases again and again–so much so that the gobbledygook grates against all our nerves
You instinctively know what I mean. Words like “cutting edge”, “globally dispersed product teams”, “dropped cost work environment”, and of course, “best of breed”. At best, these words make you scratch your head. At worst, they make you want to smash a few watermelons and drink a bottle of Aquavit (yes, I’m related to several Norwegians by marriage). This is the stuff that kills good marketing material, brain cells, and presidential campaigns.
In the book, which has a 2010 copyright and which two of my kids used as a college textbook just this year, Meerman Scott mentions the Gobbledygook Grader with a URL of http://gobbledygook.grader.com/. The Grader is supposed to evaluate your copy for “…use of the 325 gobbledygook, jargon, cliched, overused, hype-filled words and phrases”.
How can this not be a bad thing for technical writers?
This perked my interest as I wanted to run some of my white paper, case study, and article copy through it to see if anything shows up. I was also going to take a sample of five non- Hertvik Business Services white papers and compare my scores to theirs to see how much lower my scores were.
To my surprise, however, the Gobbledygook Grader displays a big old 404 Not Found Error when I go to the Web site. Missing. Lost. Disappeared. Unaccounted for. Looking on Meerman Scott’s Web site, I couldn’t find any reference to it either.
So it seems official. The Gobbledygook Grader is missing. If anyone knows what happened to it, please email me at email@example.com to solve the mystery. David Meerman Scott, if you’re reading, this would be a good time to let us know what’s happening. Also feel free to comment or email me with any personal harrowing experiences you’ve had with technical gobbledygook. Love to hear them.
Along with politicians and news anchors, the technical writing world needs the Gobbledygook Grader. Please help find this unique and unusual resource.
For my part, I promise to continue to root out gobbledygook in my writing, no matter how much Aquavit is around.