Is it true that people are generally unfamiliar with abbreviations like "i.e." and "e.g." and therefore it is best to avoid using them in technical writing?

Avoid abbreviations such as “i.e.” and “e.g.” (Many people don’t know what they mean.)

I saw this advice at https://www.dartlang.org/articles/doc-comment-guidelines/.

closed as primarily opinion-based by Drew, Mari-Lou A, JHCL, JEL, Brian Hooper Oct 23 '15 at 11:55

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    related english.stackexchange.com/questions/211492/… – user7610 Oct 21 '15 at 19:29
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    As expected, ngram confirms that "for example" is more frequent than "i.e." or "e.g.". But only twice more: Authors don't share the assumption that "Many people don’t know what they mean". – Graffito Oct 21 '15 at 19:57
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    I believe that any writer has a duty to assume that their readers are literate and at least as well-informed as are they. Otherwise society enters on a downhill spiral to the lowest common denominator of mankind. That is a process known as dumbing down and explains why we eat what passes for food in fast restaurants, and drink what passes for coffee in miserable coffee houses. Many of the population simply don't know any better and won't do while people keep serving it to them.. – WS2 Oct 21 '15 at 20:04
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    @William Why? Latin has a critical part in the history of the language we speak. Deliberately eliminating it from view is Orwellian. It is like saying you have no interest whatever in who your great-grandfather was. – WS2 Oct 21 '15 at 22:56
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    @William ...But what you aren't getting is that English hasn't been English for over a thousand years. It already is Latin and French and German and Greek and a number of other languages. That's what etymology is about. The word "thug" for instance, is pretty obviously English. It's not even particularly uncommon (especially if you've ever cracked a comic book), but it comes from the Hindi name for a sect of Kali worshipers. Is it Hindi? Sure. Is it also English? Also yes. – Parthian Shot Oct 23 '15 at 20:44

Avoid abbreviations such as “i.e.” and “e.g.” (Many people don’t know what they mean.)

The problem with this statement is that it is neither quantified nor backed up with any research. How many is 'many'? Is it 70% of people? 20% of people? 1% of people? The word many just indicates a guess by the person who wrote the article.

Maybe the writer has met one or two people that didn't understand and has generalised to the whole population based purely on his/her own experience.

The truth of the matter is that there are many people who do not know what 'abbreviation' means, that don't know what a document is or don't know what a sentence is.

You have to draw your own arbitrary line according to how educated you think your readers are. I am sure that anyone answering here understands the abbreviations. So does anyone who has a reasonably good education.

On the other hand, it doesn't take a lot of effort to write things in full. Unless of course you repeatedly have to use the expressions in the same document.

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    Most people these days are conditioned to get resentful when they encounter something they don't understand. Many (ha, ha) speakers (and authors), being aware of this, "dumb down" whatever they have to say in fear that someone might not like them. Yes, but, as a Nobel Prize for Literature winner once said, "I don't mind not being liked by everybody. I'm not a banknote." – Ricky Oct 21 '15 at 21:31
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    @Ricky, Yes unfortunately people are accustomed to being resentful about almost anything -- if possible with an eye to suing someone. Whatever happened to personal responsibility? It's incredible to me that someone who can understand something like, <div id="ntp-contents"> <div id="most-visited"> <div id="mv-tiles"></div>" and all kinds of computing jargon, can't cope with a simple two-letter abbreviation like "e.g." – chasly from UK Oct 21 '15 at 21:48
  • @Ricky The best part of that, of course, being that anti-capitalists hate bank notes. – Parthian Shot Oct 23 '15 at 20:47
  • @Ricky Dude, I love the quote...who's it from? – michael_timofeev Oct 27 '15 at 4:55

i.e. - from Latin "id est," stands for "that is." e.g. - from Latin "exempli gratia," stands four "such as," "for instance."

They're pretty common. Folks who don't know what they mean, well, maybe it's time they found out. One must not pander to the ignorant.

"In proportion as the structure of a government gives force to public opinion, it is essential that public opinion should be enlightened.” George Washington. Farewell Address, 1796).

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    stands four... for – Mari-Lou A Oct 28 '15 at 20:03

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