Tighten This! Challenge Sentence 43 [writing/editing game]

this-weeks-challenge-question-marcia-riefer-johnstonWelcome to the concise-writing game, Tighten This!

Special welcomes to the folks at Common Sense Advisory, who recently let me know that they play this game as a team sport, and to Rhonda Bracey, a regular participant whom Ray and I got to meet last week when she was in Portland.

Attention Portlandians:
Ray and Marcia are heading up a live version of Tighten This! on April 14. Will you be in Portland? If so, join us! The event is sponsored by the Society for Technical Communication, but you don’t have to belong to STC to attend.

Here’s Challenge Sentence 43 (a slight modification of a sentence I came across last week in an e-newsletter).

What we’ve wondered about of late is why companies are so open to the idea of developers getting together to hold hackathons for technical coding but are so resistant to the idea of creative people getting together to do something similar for their content since content is similar to code in its potential to build the business.

Your revision: _______________________
[Scroll to the bottom and put your revision in a comment by Friday, April 15.]


Last Week’s Challenge Sentence

In case you’re playing this game for the first time (welcome!), or in case you’ve had other things on your mind since you read the previous Challenge Sentence, here it is again (from a slide in a webinar encouraging people to write shorter sentences):

As part of OurCo’s ongoing support for our distributor partners in remaining compliant with company policies, and those of your respective governments, respecting the laws and trade association requirements that must be followed, OurCo has focused on providing both face-to-face training and e-learning modules to increase compliance knowledge.

Read on to hear thoughts from the game’s three judges: Larry Kunz (a seasoned technical writer and blogger who has participated in this game from the beginning), Ray (my husband), and me.

Larry’s Pick (Larry Kunz speaking)

How fitting that a Challenge Sentence bearing the number 42 presents us with the technical writer’s question for Life, the Universe, and Everything: out of all the information I have, what does my audience need and what can I leave out?

This week you had to decide whether the audience needs to know that there are two kinds of training: face-to-face and e-learning. Whether they need the phrase trade association requirements or just requirements. Whether it’s necessary to mention distributor partners. And so on.

Of course, since the sentence was lifted out of context, you had to guess who the audience was. That’s what makes our game so much fun.

Each of you made different guesses, so each of you constructed different sentences. I’m tempted to declare everyone a winner and invite you all to Milliways for a few rounds of Pan Galactic Gargle Blasters.

But that would deny one of you a moment in the limelight.

As I scroll through your sentences I stop every time to admire Rose Craig’s. She guessed, fairly I think, that the distributors were the audience. She guessed the distributors would understand the word compliance to encompass all of those policies, laws, and requirements. And she handed us this jewel of simplicity:

We provide face-to-face and online compliance training.


Speaking of Milliways and Pan Galactic Gargle Blasters, I hope that everyone in the Portland area will have a spectacularly good time next Thursday playing Tighten This! in person. I’ll be there with you in spirit.

Ray’s Pick (Ray Johnston speaking)

Oh, wow. What an excellent bunch of entries this week! Congratulations and thanks to each contestant. Every entry improves mightily on the original.

Here are my favorites. First, the brevity prize:

Rose: We provide face-to-face and online compliance training.

Second, the stickler prize (for brevity and completeness):

Nick: OurCo trains our distributors (face-to-face and online) to comply with company, governmental and trade association requirements.

(I could have chosen any of several entries for the stickler prize; Nick wins because he posted his entry first among them.)

Is it my dotage, or is everyone’s skill level going way up?

Marcia’s Pick (Marcia Johnston speaking)

If you took a peek at the source slide, you saw this “after” version:

Cook provides face-to-face training and e-learning modules to help our distribution partners comply with laws, company policies, and trade association requirements.


I can understand why some of you dropped the distinction between face-to-face training and e-learning, calling it all “training.” And I understand why some of you dropped the distinction between the types of compliance covered. Given the object of this game—to tighten without sacrificing meaning—I’m erring on the side of keeping both types of distinction.

Revisions that retained both types of distinction came from these contestants:

  • Rafael Manory (14 words)
  • Jennifer D’Rozario (15 words)
  • Nick Shears (16 words)
  • Tim Slager (16 words)
  • Julian Cable (17 words)
  • Hanna Scheepers (25 words)

I tilt my hat at Rafael for coming in at 14 words. (I’ve changed his of to on, which sounds more like the way I would say this and may have been what he intended to type.)

OurCo provides individual training and e-learning modules on relevant company policies, laws, and regulations. 


Thanks to all who played—even those of you (I now know you’re out there) who didn’t enter comments.

[How did I arrive at the translation formula in the spreadsheets above? See “Write Tight(er): Get to the Point and Save Millions.”]

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Again, Challenge Sentence XXX

What we’ve wondered about of late is why companies are so open to the idea of developers getting together to hold hackathons for technical coding but are so resistant to the idea of creative people getting together to do something similar for their content since content is similar to code in its potential to build the business.

Your revision: _______________________
[Scroll to the bottom and put your revision in a comment by Friday, April 15.]


Index of Challenge Sentences

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13 thoughts on “Tighten This! Challenge Sentence 43 [writing/editing game]

  1. Why do companies encourage developer hackathons but resist similar events for content creators when both help build the business?

  2. Companies hone coders’ technical skills through hackathons; similar gatherings for creatives could strengthen content.development..

  3. Why do companies encourage technical-coding hackathons, but discourage similar content-focused events despite content’s business-building potential?

  4. Just posted mine before looking higher in the chain and Rhonda had a better solution than mine, based on the same idea. Nice …

  5. We wonder why companies welcome technical coding hackathons by developers instead of content development by creative team which builds business.

  6. Of late, we wonder why companies accept developer’s technical coding hackathon than working for content that has same business potential.

  7. Just as developers meet for coding hackathons, why shouldn’t creative people also get together, given the importance of content in building the business?

  8. Why are companies so open to code hackathons but so resistant to content “writeathons”? After all, content too builds business.

  9. Why companies are so open to developers getting together for technical coding hackathons but are resistant to creative people doing the same for content? It has the same potential to build the business.

  10. Why do companies support hackathons for developing code but don’t see the benefit of holding similar events for creating content?

  11. Given that both code development and content development help build a business, why do companies support hackathons for coding, but resist the equivalent for content creators?

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