Your documentation made me cry

I was reading through some documentation a few days ago. It’s nicely written – easy to understand AND not boring as hell. But then I came across this line:

You’ll also (obviously) need a working C compiler.

Ok, yes, that is obvious to me at this point in my life and probably to just about everyone who would ever have any interest in reading about R and C. And it did make me chuckle a bit.

But my reaction this documentation when I was first learning about computer-y things might have been different. Words like “obviously” made me feel like if it wasn’t obvious to me, then I must not know enough or be clever enough to even be trying this sort of thing. It feels a bit silly now to admit that I was so affected by such small things, but it really did slow me down sometimes. I bring it up because I didn’t have that reaction to similar language in most other subjects. (Math was another area I found – and still find – “clearlys” and “obviouslys” really off-putting.) I think it’s because as a girl I already felt like I wasn’t supposed to be doing math-y or computer-y things. While I managed to ignore those feelings most of the time (or could directly combat some of the more obvious sexism), subtle things like this could really wiggle under my skin and exploit those feelings.