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ITIL Glossary problems
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SueKocher
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PostPosted: Sat Jan 26, 2008 6:07 am    Post subject: ITIL Glossary problems Reply with quote

I am glad that I found this forum. I hope that others have noticed the significant problems with the ITIL Glossary and would support getting them fixed.

My company's business division wanted me (as terminologist) to make these terms available to our staff via our termbase, in order to promote consistency and adherence to standards. But the problems with the Glossary are significant and potentially costly to any company that tries to use the ITIL terms in a consistent and correct way, and especially in documents slated for translation.

1) All of the terms in the glossary are intial-capped as though they are proper nouns, but many of the terms, like "asset" and "audit" are not proper nouns. How then can we let our staff use the ITIL Glossary and ensure that terms are rendered consistently and correctly in documentation? They generate spelling errors. I was told that the ITIL editing staff capitalized the terms "for emphasis"--this is an incorrect use of capitalization and does not foster efficiency or consistency.

2) All of the terms, when they appear in the definitions for other terms are in a blue font--which makes them look like links. Which they should be, for convenience, but they are not.

3) The glossary does not distinguish between "See" references and "See also" references. These are very different. See is used in place of a definition--directing you from a non-standard term to the correct or standard one. See also directs you to related terminology.

4) I think that some of the terms that are called "synonyms" for something are not, actually. ANd in any case, since ITIL is about STANDARDS, they should choose ONE correct term per concept. Having more than one simply promotes confusion, especially when the terms are not exactly the same but have different semantic ranges.

5) Some of the terms have good, clear definitions but others are not definitions at all. Rather they might say what the thing is used for or what it is a part of, but not what it IS.

I reported the main problems to various people involved with ITIL and the glossary last year, before and after V3 came out. We even offered to help. Eventually we received permission to publish the terms with the capitalization corrected (as best I could)--and instead of the definitions, we just included a link to th official onlinr ITIL glossary. But I don't know that there are any plans underway to fix the Glossary?

These are not trivial issues. Each inconsistency in terminology, including capitalization, snowballs when there are multiple occurrences in multiple documents, and especially when they need to be translated into multiple languages.

It is a little ironic that a standards organization has drafted a Glossary of standard terms but not according to standards for glossaries. ;^) It could be a very useful document, but right now I am concerned about the costs of correcting incorrect terminology and translations downstream as people use this Glossary in its current state!

If anyone is reading who can do something.... or can pass this along to someone who can... I thank you!

Cheers
Sue
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UKVIKING
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PostPosted: Wed Jan 30, 2008 7:01 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

SueKocher:

Huh ? WTF ?

The ITIL Glossary is an adobe file that OGC provides as an extract from the ITIL books.

So the format sucks. So what. I dont understand your issue.

You can get the word version and format it your self.

The glossary like ITIL is the IP property of OGC.

Asset is a word in the Oxford dictionary as well

So is audit.

If you dont like the way it is done. Moan to OGC not here
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M_Misra
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PostPosted: Wed Feb 20, 2008 1:29 am    Post subject: Re: ITIL Glossary problems Reply with quote

SueKocher wrote:
I am glad that I found this forum. I hope that others have noticed the significant problems with the ITIL Glossary and would support getting them fixed.

My company's business division wanted me (as terminologist) to make these terms available to our staff via our termbase, in order to promote consistency and adherence to standards. But the problems with the Glossary are significant and potentially costly to any company that tries to use the ITIL terms in a consistent and correct way, and especially in documents slated for translation.

1) All of the terms in the glossary are intial-capped as though they are proper nouns, but many of the terms, like "asset" and "audit" are not proper nouns. How then can we let our staff use the ITIL Glossary and ensure that terms are rendered consistently and correctly in documentation? They generate spelling errors. I was told that the ITIL editing staff capitalized the terms "for emphasis"--this is an incorrect use of capitalization and does not foster efficiency or consistency.

2) All of the terms, when they appear in the definitions for other terms are in a blue font--which makes them look like links. Which they should be, for convenience, but they are not.

3) The glossary does not distinguish between "See" references and "See also" references. These are very different. See is used in place of a definition--directing you from a non-standard term to the correct or standard one. See also directs you to related terminology.

4) I think that some of the terms that are called "synonyms" for something are not, actually. ANd in any case, since ITIL is about STANDARDS, they should choose ONE correct term per concept. Having more than one simply promotes confusion, especially when the terms are not exactly the same but have different semantic ranges.

5) Some of the terms have good, clear definitions but others are not definitions at all. Rather they might say what the thing is used for or what it is a part of, but not what it IS.

I reported the main problems to various people involved with ITIL and the glossary last year, before and after V3 came out. We even offered to help. Eventually we received permission to publish the terms with the capitalization corrected (as best I could)--and instead of the definitions, we just included a link to th official onlinr ITIL glossary. But I don't know that there are any plans underway to fix the Glossary?

These are not trivial issues. Each inconsistency in terminology, including capitalization, snowballs when there are multiple occurrences in multiple documents, and especially when they need to be translated into multiple languages.

It is a little ironic that a standards organization has drafted a Glossary of standard terms but not according to standards for glossaries. ;^) It could be a very useful document, but right now I am concerned about the costs of correcting incorrect terminology and translations downstream as people use this Glossary in its current state!

If anyone is reading who can do something.... or can pass this along to someone who can... I thank you!

Cheers
Sue



Hello Sue,
A thoughtful and interesting post. Thanks for sharing it. I would be interested in hearing how (if) your problem is resolved.
M Misra
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SueKocher
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PostPosted: Thu Feb 21, 2008 5:39 am    Post subject: Re: ITIL Glossary problems Reply with quote

M_Misra wrote:

Hello Sue,
A thoughtful and interesting post. Thanks for sharing it. I would be interested in hearing how (if) your problem is resolved.
M Misra


Hello Misra,
Thank you. I am glad you understood my points. Unfortunately there has been no solution yet. I might take this up with OGC again but now I am very busy. When enough people "moan" as Mr. Unviking put it, then maybe something will happen.

===============
By the way, to Mr Unviking: I am not sure what made you so incensed that you had to hurl curses and insults. Bad day, maybe. You opined:


"So the format sucks. So what. I dont understand your issue. "

Either you did not actually read my post, or the issues are beyond your comprehension. They're not that complex. Either way, I can't help you.

"Asset is a word in the Oxford dictionary as well
So is audit. "

Correct--definitions that differ significantly from the definitions in ITIL. Is it possible that you do not understand that a term can have multiple definitions? Also, capitalization in English changes meaning--perhaps you hadn't noticed. The term "asset" is in the dictionary, but "Asset" is not. There is a difference, and it's not about formatting. If you don't get it I'm not going to explain again--my original post is still there.

"If you dont like the way it is done. Moan to OGC not here"

Again, if you had actually read my post, you'd know that I did that but nothing happened. Is this not a list for discussing ITIL standards? I am talking about a standard that does not follow established standards--a glossary that doesn't act like a glossary. I found that ironic as well as frustrating. I'd like to help fix the problem because confusion and inconsistency in terminology DOES cost money. For a global company, the costs are significant indeed.

If this is your list, then of course you're free to make up your rules and kick me off.


"Change Management is POWER & CONTROL. /....evil laughter"

That's interesting. Red Badge, you say?


Cheers
Sue
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rpmason
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PostPosted: Thu Feb 21, 2008 7:30 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

The concerns Sue has are Real and not Imagined. The Dilemma she faces is One of consistency and Uniformity of Definitions in a glossary. The Formatting is odd all Around and not very Friendly for reading or for use.

All Glossary words should not be Init-capped for the simple Reason that Readers can't Determine whether the word is a proper Noun. I find it rather Disconcerting. Consider the Number of people in the ITIL field who are not native English Speakers - doubly disconcerting, if not Downright confounding, I'd Imagine.

The odd use of capped blue terms within a definition was probably someone's "good idea" but it actually is a usability problem. I would hope that eventually, these blue terms would become hyperlinks in the online versions so that readers can jump from a definition to another term for clarification (but how to find your way back? Scroll, scroll, scroll...).

Many of Sue's concerns are ones that we who document processes or software or whatever for a living are justifiably concerned with. That's why companies hire people who communicate in writing -- they make the user's job easier without the user even realizing it.

rpmason, IPSR
"I once said that the three most important elements of fiction are plot, plot, and plot. The equivalent in nonfiction is: clarity, clarity, and clarity." Ayn Rand
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rpmason
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PostPosted: Thu Feb 21, 2008 7:37 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

P.S. I volunteered to review the V3 books last year and submitted a rather good copy edit, IMHO, of the Strategy book. I looked through someone else's copy after it was published and, near as I could tell, none of my suggestions were used. Their loss.

rpmason, IPSR
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UrgentJensen
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PostPosted: Thu Feb 21, 2008 7:01 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

So are the ITIL books translated into other languages? Interesting...
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Skinnera
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PostPosted: Thu Feb 21, 2008 11:43 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

UrgentJensen wrote:
So are the ITIL books translated into other languages? Interesting...
I'm waiting for one that's in English... Wink
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UKVIKING
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PostPosted: Fri Feb 22, 2008 12:42 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Sue,

I will reply to your post with comments for me

1 - I did comprehend your post.
2 - I dont see the same level of concern in the corporations that I have worked with in the last 10 years about glossarys.
3 - I could not understand why this has any importance whatsoever. That was why I went Huh ? WTF ?

I have the ITIL manuals - physical copies. I have the electronic copies. I use each in the appropriate setting.

Since I speak - relatively well for an American - English, I can read the Glossary as I need

Do I have an issue about the style used by the OGC in the creation of the online glossary ? No

Why are the words capitalized when they are NOT proper nouns ?

The reason is simple. The ease of reading.

Look on any computer program that is windows based or shown via the web

Each command is capitialized

File, Edit, View,.. Help

The same is true of the web form used in this forum

Subject Message body Options Font Colour Font Size

The use of Capitalization shows that the word is the beginning of a new topic / item / subject / line item

This is style that OGC has selected.

It makes it easier to read the glossary on a web site as when your eyes pass over a sentence, word or phrase .. you take note of words in Capitals or Title capitialization

I have seen uglier written documents... even produced them myself. I have seen uglier styles used on documents and web sites etc. I have even done so myself

But to take the position that you should dictate to an organization on how they should use a particular style for their documents is just beyond imagination.

I dont like the style used in International Hearld Tribune or the NY Post or several web sites. I dont go to a forum on news and comment/moan/pontificate about it. Other than to see my own words in print about the item. It achieves nothing.

Go work for the organization OGC or get hired as a writing style consultant by them and change their non-compliance with grammar standards

Dont act as the grammar police for any organization other than what you can control.

Lastly,

While I do see the need for written documents being published, it is up to the organization to police their own style.

And one more thing.

I too am waiting for the English version of v3.

ITIL v3 in English (Middle ENglish)
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SueKocher
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PostPosted: Fri Feb 22, 2008 4:56 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

John said:
1 - I did comprehend your post.
2 - I dont see the same level of concern in the corporations that I have worked with in the last 10 years about glossarys.

That is probably because they don't understand how terminology management--or the lack thereof--affects their bottom line. Many corporations are starting to get it--but fixing problems downstream, after they have multiplied and caused confusion, is costly.

3 - I could not understand why this has any importance whatsoever. That was why I went Huh ? WTF ?

That only shows that #1 above is not really true. You are clearly unaware of the concerns of corporate globalization, or translation and its costs, or about how consistency and accuracy in the use of terminology and language generally impacts corporate revenues. As I said before: it is not trivial. But I don't have time here to go into great detail to explain for you.
However, if an organization is going to set a document up as a standard then that document should obviously follow standards itself. There are standards for glossaries, and for usability, whether in print or online.


I have the ITIL manuals - physical copies. I have the electronic copies. I use each in the appropriate setting.
Since I speak - relatively well for an American - English, I can read the Glossary as I need

Good for you--so you find yourself at an advantage and that's all you care about. Or perhaps you simply assume that "Everyone else thinks and speaks and makes meaning the way I do"... and if they don't, it's their problem? I know all too well how difficult it is to get native American English speakers to understand the burden that is placed on people from a different language and culture, trying to make sense out of American English, and especially badly written English. As someone else pointed out, not everyone who uses these ITIL documents is a native speaker. At my company, which sells software programs, our customer base is now more than 50% not-North-American and I daresay that's true for many other companies. If we do not keep that firmly in mind, if our software and documentation is not clear for everyone, then we jeopardize our global market.

As for the ITIL glossary, as others have pointed out, it doesn't work so well for native English speakers either.


Do I have an issue about the style used by the OGC in the creation of the online glossary ? No

Once again, it is not an issue of style. It is an issue of accuracy.

Why are the words capitalized when they are NOT proper nouns ?
The reason is simple. The ease of reading.

And that is a completely incorrect and misleading use for capitalization. Would you object if all the glossary terms were totally capitalized, like ASSET, AUDIT? That would make them even more "easy" to see in text--and even more wrong. Here is one reason why it matters: For translation, all words and phrases from a project go into a database, "translation memory", one for each target language. Capitalization matters, because the meaning of a common noun vs. a proper noun with the same spelling is usually entirely different, both in English and other languages.

Product and brand names (proper nouns) are not translated at all--Microsoft Word will usually be rendered in English or its phonetic equivalent, whether in a document that is Chinese or Spanish or whatever... because it's copyrighted and untranslatable. Similarly, if you use Word as shorthand for Microsoft Word, then it will will not (or should not) be translated as though it is "word"--entirely wrong translation. In short, capitalized and uncapitalized text strings are stored in translation memories as two different concepts, with two different translations--and if you miscapitalize a word in a document, it will come up as a mismatch for the translators, who will have to put in the effort to determine manually how to translate the term. Or render it incorrectly, which can be trivial or decidedly not trivial--increased tech support calls due to careless documentation is not trivial. That's only one tiny example, but does that help you at all?


Look on any computer program that is windows based or shown via the web
Each command is capitialized
File, Edit, View,.. Help

There is no connection whatever between conventions for software menu items and the problem of capitalizing terms in a glossary. A glossary is like a dictionary. If you want to compare apples to apples, look at merriam-webster.com or the Oxford dictionary and see if you find all the terms capitalized. They are not, unless they are proper nouns, because that would be incorrect. However, I will say that for sure if you wrote "Click File" in a document instead of "Click the file" for sure someone will be confused...and confusion costs money.

This is style that OGC has selected.

It is wrong, misleading, and problematic for a glossary.

It makes it easier to read the glossary on a web site as when your eyes pass over a sentence, word or phrase .. you take note of words in Capitals or Title capitialization

No, it does not make it easier, as someone else illustrated. It is confusing as heck.

I have seen uglier written documents... even produced them myself. I have seen uglier styles used on documents and web sites etc. I have even done so myself

I don't doubt it. So, should we expect international standards to be set according to your low standards for quality? Or do we expect high standards from an organization that is in fact devoted to standards?

Go work for the organization OGC or get hired as a writing style consultant by them and change their non-compliance with grammar standards

No thanks. I love my job.
My company is investing in ITIL standards, and some folks want the ITIL terms in our corporate termbase. But we can't do that until ITIL cleans up their glossary, because that would be condoing errors and confusing definitions.

There is such a thing as constructive criticism and positive change, you know. For someone who puts Change Management in his signature (albeit in a disturbing way), I find your attitude puzzling.


Cheers
Sue
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UKVIKING
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PostPosted: Fri Feb 22, 2008 6:51 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Sue

While I agree that it is best to have some standards - style, comprehension, etc - for companys when they produce documentation, the consumers of those documentation and the products just have to complain to the producers of those documents.

I remember the historical - This page left intentional blank - from IBM documentation

Have you seen the CoBIT documentation and its unique style - to include glossaries and indices. They have their own unique style

They too are a Standards company looking to deal with IT and other environments related to IT

As for ITIL, it is concerned with how IT and its issues are dealt with not with grammar, style, glossaries etc.

I use the ITIL Glossary and I dont see any issues with it.

As to my signature, as I do IT Operational Change Management. I prevent things like software or hardware work that causes problems by saying no. As such, the Change Manager in a company is usually the least like because NO is usually the first word - especially if he or she is doing your job.

I will admit even after my initial post where I thought that this thread was - well pointless - that I am starting to understand your point. Pounding your point into my abnormally thick head by explaining and re-explaining your position.

And because as the Change Manager, I am trying to come up with standards for change requests - information not style - and I am finding that even in a mature organization like the one I am in, the quality of details run from the gamut of terse ( one real word , list of commands) to verbose (War & Peace or Faulkner style)

As to OGC being so focused on their products, I dont think the OGC does its own work. I think and so other may reply that all of the work is done by users / contributors and farmed out to contractors to format/style

As to the ITIL Glossary, I looked at it again and I do see what you mean.

I think I know why.

As I have the CD and hard copy of ITIL v2, the Glossary om the CD is like a web page with hyperlinks and the associated style for a Web Page does not translate well for a document. Tables and hyperlinks and the tool used probally helped make it look like it did.

When they V3 came out, most likely the cheapest / least expensive way was to copy the v2 glossary and use that for v3. Because the glossary is usually the last document part done, the contractor team spend the least time on that

So, Sue, I first would like to apologize for the WTF remark in my first post and the dismissal of your psot. While I dont think this issue can be solved nor see the issue as important as you do - which you do because of your role, I think can now understand why you posted it. And I appreciate your posting the issue. After re-reading.

As a side note, If you get involved with local itSMF, you may be able to help them get feedback on their documents / etc and that may move up.
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rpmason
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PostPosted: Sat Feb 23, 2008 2:39 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

>> I remember the historical - This page left intentional blank - from IBM documentation >>

Totally and completely off topic: My husband is a former IBMer. IBM had an internal program where if you submitted a suggestion that saved the company money, you would get a miniscule percentage of that savings. My husband suggested in the 80s that IBM allow chapters to begin on the left-hand page (and eliminate the inexplicable 'This page left intentially blank'). His suggestion was rejected. It is no longer IBM house style. We could have retired very comfortably on the afore-mentioned miniscule percentage. Ahh, what could have been...
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SueKocher
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PostPosted: Sat Feb 23, 2008 3:30 am    Post subject: ITIL glossary Reply with quote

Hi John,

Thanks very much for your reply.
Quote:
Have you seen the CoBIT documentation and its unique style - to include glossaries and indices. They have their own unique style.
They too are a Standards company looking to deal with IT and other environments related to IT


No, I'm afraid I haven't seen it. Perhaps I'll google around this afternoon.

Quote:
As for ITIL, it is concerned with how IT and its issues are dealt with not with grammar, style, glossaries etc.


One of my favorite quotes:

"Terminology is the DNA of knowledge." -Kara Warburton (Terminologist at IBM]

Terminology refers not just to individual words, but word choices and usage--you can't be effective if you can't communicate clearly, with consistent use of words to convey particular meanings. And in English, because capitalization does in fact effect the meaning of a word, it matters a good deal and is not a matter of style at all. If we're all working toward standards, a big part of that is using the same terminology consistently.

BTW the problems with the ITIL glossary are not only capitalization and blue text either--the cross-referencing, clarity of definitions, categories, and other things could all use a careful look.

Quote:
I will admit even after my initial post where I thought that this thread was - well pointless - that I am starting to understand your point. Pounding your point into my abnormally thick head by explaining and re-explaining your position.


Thanks for that. I think that you will find in your work that miscommunication in email, meetings, and documents is very often directly caused by incorrect or confusing terminology, and sometimes even what you call style (and which I argue carries meaning, and is not just about what something looks like).

An example that I bet many can relate to: if you write a long email and copy various people, and if parts of the email are critical, or some parts are more relevant to some than others, then it's important to break the message up into topic areas and give them headings--so that people will skim and scan for the bits relevant to them. And so they can find the "What do I need to do" part easily. If you don't do that, then many people will not read it at all. And there will be consequences to that. Topics and headings assist in comprehension and communication. So is that "just style" or is it effective communication? I'd argue the latter.


Quote:
As to OGC being so focused on their products, I dont think the OGC does its own work. I think and so other may reply that all of the work is done by users / contributors and farmed out to contractors to format/style


That is exactly what happened, but there was actually quite a lot of work put in between V2 and V3 by the glossary writers, who added many more terms and definitions. Perhaps they are no longer contracted by ITIL though. There was some initial interest in the issues that I raised from a couple of people at OGC, but then nothing happened.

Quote:
. . .I think can now understand why you posted it. And I appreciate your posting the issue. After re-reading.
As a side note, If you get involved with local itSMF, you may be able to help them get feedback on their documents / etc and that may move up.


Thanks again, and good advice. I have plenty of other work to do, I am not paid by OGC, and I've already donated too many hours to trying to explain to OGC and the glossary writers why and how their own terminology could be standardized (it's a copyrighted work, of course, so we can't change any of the content, no matter how poorly thought out).

Thus I can only hope that if others can see the problems and room for improvement, they will provide that feedback to OGC. That is why I originally posted my message. I suspected that other people were having problems with the glossary, even if they can't articulate what those problems are, other than just "hard to use"...


Cheers
Sue
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UKVIKING
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PostPosted: Sat Feb 23, 2008 4:49 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

SueKocher

Thanks for the reply

I hopped over to itSMF and grabbed the ITIL Glossary (PDF) version

Ugly formatting.

I see what you mean.

They most likely use MS Word which auto capitilizes the first word in everything

e e cummings would have used word perfect

Is there a university standard for certain documents that is globally recognized
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LizGallacher
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PostPosted: Sat Feb 23, 2008 10:16 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

I am glad that peace has broken out on this thread - I was getting a bit concerned that it was getting rather heated. I think that Sue made some really interesting points - I had never really thought about what goes on behind the scenes in translation, but it makes good sense. I think we can all agree that this is just another example of rushed work+cost-cutting=poor quality, which has manifested itself right across V3.

Might I suggest (if I am allowed to) that Sue posts her original post. together with the explanation about translation, which clarifies why it is important onto the itskeptic site (I think that there are a number of subscribers who would find it interesting) and the itsmf international forum, where Sharon Taylor responds.
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