When writing content, generalising can make it simpler to present your message but it can also create issues.
Approximations work most of the time (‘about one thousand’ or ‘approximately half the people’) whereas a generalisation is making a statement about an entire group (such as “all self-employed writers write good web content”). The problem arises if the generalisation is too general to be completely accurate or useful.
Some people will read a generalisation without thought, others will focus on the fact there are exceptions to your statement and others will take offence at being included (or excluded). Maybe you don’t care about annoying the pedants of this world, but there may be more of them than you expect in your target audience, and offending people is not often a good plan.
Todays I read a blog post which included the following generalisation:
Whatever size company you are with, you need to establish the roles of Chief Content Officer, Managing Editor, Content Producers, Chief Listening Officer and your Content Creators.
While the blog post as a whole was great, this statement stood out to me because it excludes sole traders. “Whatever size company you are with” pretty clearly indicates that the following information applies to all businesses – but if you’re in a small business, you are not going to have more than five roles within the communications area and may not even have five roles in total! I found this statement frustrating as I can’t assign such roles to different people and this post gave no indication of how to blend the roles if required.
What generalisations have you come across that have stood out for you? Do those experiences come to mind when writing content so you don’t generalise inappropriately?