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When downloading something on an application, I preferred the present continuous active voice form of the message, say something like "Downloading issue #16"

However I have been asked to change it into passive voice form "Issue #16 is being downloaded"

While I can't really point what is worse or better with the latter, my sensibilities strongly favor the former.

Can you point out which one is better, what would you prefer and why?

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closed as not constructive by FumbleFingers, MετάEd, Daniel, Carlo_R., Cameron Oct 5 '12 at 0:10

As it currently stands, this question is not a good fit for our Q&A format. We expect answers to be supported by facts, references, or expertise, but this question will likely solicit debate, arguments, polling, or extended discussion. If you feel that this question can be improved and possibly reopened, visit the help center for guidance.If this question can be reworded to fit the rules in the help center, please edit the question.

I think this is Not Constructive. It's like asking "What's the difference between six of one and half-a-dozen of the other?" – FumbleFingers Oct 4 '12 at 15:26
The question inherently concerns use of the passive voice vis-à-vis the active voice -- see the tags. – Kris Oct 4 '12 at 15:28
Can you say "Issue #16 is downloading" instead? It's still passive, but has one fewer word. – JLG Oct 4 '12 at 20:39
This question should not have been closed and is a valid concern regarding the difference between active and passive voice, not to mention elegance. Please don't overlook questions that are nuanced such as this. This is a prototypical example I'd use in a writing workshop on style. – Kevin Behan Jul 30 '15 at 18:08

Generally, the tendency is to advise avoiding the passive voice. (More advise than practice).

However, in your specific case, the operative thing is the objective being download -- the process of downloading itself being (presumably) already in context. "Issue #16 being downloaded" would be more user-friendly in that it begins with the most important part. You will need to omit the is -- it being a status message and not necessarily a complete sentence.

In case you are formatting the message as, say:
"Downloading Issue #16" (note the capitalization of 'Issue')
and probably constantly updating the issue number, then this format too would be fine.

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I think you might be making unwarranted assumptions there. Sometimes it might indeed be that the particular [issue/file] being downloaded is the operative [most important] thing. Other times (when you're bothered about slow response times in some concurrent process sharing the data transfer pipeline), the most important thing might be the fact that a download is in progress. – FumbleFingers Oct 4 '12 at 15:25
Actually, it is based on decades of exposure rather than assumptions. – Kris Oct 4 '12 at 15:53
Exactly. I assuming "decades" means at least 20 years, and to be honest I don't think even in 1992 I ever had the benefit of a system that might be "downloading" more than one thing at any given time. Although today I've got a high-bandwidth cable connection, I'm normally using it for several things at once. If I was waiting for some vital transfer to finish so I can get on with important work, I wouldn't care which file some other process was fetching - I'd just want to de-priotitise or cancel the secondary download that was slowing my primary task. – FumbleFingers Oct 4 '12 at 16:17
FumbleFingers, answer the question with what you think is right. Let the op and the users upvote what they think is appropriate :) – Lakshman Prasad Oct 4 '12 at 20:17

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