Somebody likes our jokes!


I’ve been hanging out on Twitter recently (gadfly of the Internet as I am) and trying to help anybody who pops up with a Sibelius problem, which occasionally happens. A day or two ago I offered some help @librarianjess, who was having problems getting Sibelius installed. (In the end she was able to get Sibelius installed without my help anyway.)

Anyway, Jess likes the Sibelius Handbook. She says:

I came across a review which complained about the colloquial nature of the Sibelius handbook. Certain examples they mentioned did actually border on condescending. In the end, though, the overwhelming consensus I found was that Sibelius was the better option for us (not a single person, in fact, recommended Finale), and we just got our copy in yesterday. The handbook is smaller than I anticipated (Finale’s manual is big enough to use as a blunt force murder weapon), and, uh, hilarious.

The jokes in the Sibelius documentation are about as divisive as anything I can think of in the history of the program. Most of the jokes were written by Ben Finn, one of the co-founders of Sibelius and the original author of the manual, but since I took over the writing of documentation for the software 10 years ago I have added my fair share of witticisms. Some of the gags are a bit close to the bone (especially the one about session drummers, which I won’t repeat here), but they’re all meant in good humour. I can see how folks might consider a couple of them condescending, but I think the basic issue is that some people just don’t think there’s any room in software manuals for jokes.

Well, I don’t make any apologies for the jokes in the Sibelius manuals. There are an awful lot of words in them, and I think it’s only fair that a few of them should be allowed to be funny.

Anyway, if you want to read the Sibelius documentation for yourself, you can download the latest versions from the Sibelius web site. (I don’t know if all of the jokes are present in the non-English versions, but I hope so!)


  1. Frank Wales

    As someone who’s written a lot of technical documentation to go with my software, I think it’s morally reprehensible to write it without wit and humour. If people have to read the stuff, the least they can do is enjoy it.

    I get particularly annoyed when people remove jokes from later editions of documentation, as if somehow they’re improving it by doing so.

  2. Jess

    hey, I’m famous! :-D

    I congratulate you for the humor in the manual, because to be frank I’m really looking forward to getting started on a project (something that won’t happen until after our opera season is over) just so I can find more fun blurbs in the book! (Obviously I’m looking forward to learning the program as well. But the humor is, IMO, a nice touch.)

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