Sunday, January 13, 2013

Typing cannot be illegible

I was irritated yesterday by a radio contest commercial. 

According to the instructions, entrants were to go to a web site and enter their information.  "Incomplete and illegible" entries would be discarded. 

Definition for Illegible - Not clear enough to be read: "his handwriting is totally illegible".  Also, "impossible or almost impossible to read because of being very untidy or not clear"

Back in the "olden" days, when contest entries had to be filled out by hand and mailed, the illegibility disclaimer made sense.  People's handwriting could be undecipherable, pens could blob or smear, and the tiny spaces provided could result in truncated information. 

But the directions explicitly told the entrants to go to the web site.  It's pretty hard to make typewriting illegible.  

And if it was, that would be the web site designer's fault.  It's not like I can enter my information in WingDings.  Even this page won't accept WingDings.

Most likely, the disclaimer was recycled from a long ago vetted legal document.  And I'm sure it's still legally valid.  Legal doesn't make it correct.  

Last time I checked this was the 21st century.  Disclaimers about illegibility should join admonishments to be respectful of those who share your party line.  (A telephone line shared by multiple households, for those who are too young to know.)

Let's make our "fine print" disclaimers accurate, as well as legally valid.

Scoontemplations in WingDings.
Now that's illegible.

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