A 47-word road sign

View the document: A 47-word road sign

Judges comments: Pretty bad indeed.  I wonder how many accidents happened while folks who didn’t need to read this were distracted reading it.  It starts with “No person shall…” but at the end it says it’s really for folks who drive a vehicle longer than 10.5 meters. People who need to pay attention to this law will most certainly have driven past it before they get to the part that says it’s for them.  I’m still trying to figure out the “preceeding” and “”cause to be driven” stuff.  Of course, it also uses the infamous “shall.”  Shame on them  This gets my vote because it’s so insanely out of line with what it’s supposed to be. Love how they say “drive or cause to be driven”, thus making this one of the rarest types of road signs in the world: a sign that addresses people who by definition are somewhere else. Bonus points: it’s not even proper English (“the day” should be deleted, “which” should be “that”, “in” should be “on”.  My favorite part is, “Don’t drive or cause to be driven.” Here’s what that means to me: “Attention carjackers: Between 6pm and midnight, on the kinda confusing days we mention above, don’t even THINK about causing someone to be driven down this road.

Consent Decree

View the document: Consent Decree

Judges comments: WOW – this will be hard to top. I am changing my scores on the ones I already did because this is so much worse. Opening paragraph says: 1. COMPANY is a motor carrier of passengers and conducts or has conducted operations in interstate commerce pursuant to operating authority registration issued by FMCSA under 49 U.S.C. § 13902.  COMPANY transports passengers for compensation “between a place in … a State and a place in another State” and is subject to FMCSA’s jurisdiction at 49 U.S.C. § 13501(1)(A).  It goes on like this for 14 pages.  I defy anyone, to actually read every word of this without wanting to throttle the author or have a stiff drink.  This bit of regulation gets a perfect 100 — 100% of people required to complete it complained about it. The language itself is pretty standard governmentese — in that regard it’s no worse than millions of other documents — but using that type of language in this case amounts to extreme insensitivity and disrespect for the audience. I’m voting for this because it’s such a great example of what the bill is supposed to address.  Of the lawyers, by the lawyers, and for the lawyers.

Formal demand from Revenu Quebec

View the document: Formal demand from Revenu Quebec

Judges comments: This is one of the worst for many reasons.  Start by looking at the comments from the submitter (in the article). The tone of the language is beyond formal – it’s very stilted, even threatening.  I read it 3 times and still not sure what to do, but they certainly have me afraid that terrible things will happen unless I get a bailiff to service this – whatever that means and whoever that is.  The information at the end written in French is just one more off-putting element.  I can just imagine the conversation when the author of this gem got home from work. “Tough day at the office dear?” “Exhausting! I had to try to write a customer letter that was impenetrable, boring, and threatening — all at the same time! But you know what? I did it!!” The problem is compounded by the fact that failing to respond to this notice could have serious financial repercussions. Other countries are starting to address this same problem with these types of notices (Tialda Sikkema has been involved in that in the Netherlands, for instance). Canada is smart enough to figure out how to do the same.

Hospital Discharge Papers

View the document: Hospital Discharge Papers

Judges comments: Not great, but I’ve seen worse  (Joanne) Discharge papers should tell patients what to do after they leave the hospital. In this case, the intended audience are doctors. So it’s perfect if the doctor is the patient.  Many other nominees are fun or kooky, but they are largely harmless. This one could really be life and death and that’s why it deserves real scorn. As the person who submitted this entry said, “It’s clear the authors did not think about the audience.” I just want to say to the authors, “Would you send your own mother home with this document?”

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