This is great. I run into this kind of thing all the time, both the ‘classic writing’ style and the ‘programmers must quantify everything’ bit. My writing can often be more forceful than intended. I blame an English teacher I had back in elementary school, who once told me “You don’t need to start sentences off with "In my opinion.” You’re writing it. Of course it’s your opinion. I took that to heart.
Programmers in particular are obsessed with making sure that all relevant qualifications are added to any statements made by anyone, anywhere, at any time.
I have come so close to writing a blog post about how much this kind of thing drives me up a wall. This is my least favourite quirk of the programmer crowd, for sure.
You’re writing it. Of course it’s your opinion.
I generally agree, but there can be exceptions. And for writing that’s published for a general audience, I agree, but when communicating directly to somebody, it’s best to hedge it a bit. I think nerds often omit this last part, making them appear more combative than necessary.
e.g., I’m putting tomatoes on a sandwich I’m about to eat. Somebody sits down and announces “Tomatoes are disgusting.” What? It can be hard to separate an unsolicited opinion which is irrelevant (it’s my sandwich, not theirs) from a harsh correction (“you’re doing it wrong”). Very confrontational. But if somebody started ihatetomatoes.tumblr I would have no problem with the omission of “my opinion”.
it’s best to hedge it a bit.
Agreed. Tact is useful, for sure.
That kind of hedging also depends on what is the actual content of your technical analysis. There is no amount of hedging that will save you if you provide evidence that the earth is spherical in a niche where by consensus the earth has been declared flat, because that would indispose the status quo. And while mutual pleasantries may be somewhat useful in escaping immediate collision, in such a scenario the clock is ticking towards the moment of serious confrontation. When it comes to such things, it is a very tough call on how to say things other than just saying them as they are, or stay completely silent and use the validity of your claim to proceed towards an end goal.