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I don't know, I have problems with these things. I never know who's wrong, should the author not take it personally, or should the reviewer be tactful? I guess both.

Why hurt someone when you can avoid it?

I have a personal problem with ASN.1, and with authenticate- then- obliviously- decrypt. I don't know the author of this book at all and reject the implication that the review had a personalized tone.

Having said that: had I written the "review" as an actual "review", and not as an oversized HN comment that I had to make a Gist out of to get it onto the site, I would have written it more carefully.

I'm not saying the review was personal, it's pretty clear that you're only talking about the facts. It's just that there are phrases that have a lower "hurt-to-information" numerator with the same denominator.

I disagree: the exact turns-of-phrase that can sting also include important signalling, to other readers, of the relative importance of different points, in a way that's hard to do otherwise in prose. (In person, vocal tone and face/body language would convey these same shades of emphasis.)

As long as criticism doesn't cross the "bright lines" of ad hominem or gratuitous ridicule, as a third party reader, I much prefer the targets toughen up, rather than the critics soften their language. And there are way more third-party readers than critics or their targets.

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