This is yet another item that can be listed under tech writing frustrations.
I was working on a project where we needed to rewrite a set of glossary definitions. I won’t go into the definitions (primarily due to corporate privacy), but for illustration purposes, let me use this analogy.
Let’s say you’re looking up a definition for, say, a car. You come across the following glossary listing: “A car has four wheels. It is made of metal. It is not a boat.”
This tells you about some of a car’s attributes (four wheels, made of metal) and what it isn’t (a boat). It never tells you, in any way, shape, or form, what a car actually is!
Yet this horrifically-written glossary is entirely made up of “definitions” (and I use the word loosely) written just like this. I don’t know about you, but my assessment of these glossary definitions would be “totally useless.”
I come across “definitions” like this more often than I want to say, and they make me cringe. People look up word meanings to find out what words mean. Writing a “definition” that describes only its attributes is useless. If a glossary “definition” does not “define” what it is, then it does not do its job.