RE: Interviewing writers

Subject: RE: Interviewing writers
From: Chuck Martin <CMartin -at- serena -dot- com>
To: techwr-l -at- lists -dot- raycomm -dot- com
Date: Mon, 31 Jan 2000 09:17:16 -0800

> -----Original Message-----
> From: Anthony Markatos [mailto:tonymar -at- hotmail -dot- com]
> Sent: Sunday, January 30, 2000 1:17 PM
> Subject: RE: Interviewing writers

> Chuck Martin asks:
> In 15 years you've never found quality writing to be a
> critical component
> [to highly usable end-user documentation]?
> Tony Markatos responds:
> Nope! Think about it. When was the last time you heard of a
> tech comm
> project in which effective task analysis, and project management -
> especially estimating - was accomplished, but the whole thing
> fell apart
> because of poor writing skills. I have never see or heard of
> such. I have
> seen a LOT of the reverse!

Oh projects don't fall apart. The manuals or Help, in some form, get out
there with the product. (Although I've known about cases where docs weren't'
shipped with a release.)

But in my short (7ish years) career, I have had numerous encounters with
horrible writing. Often it was not task oriented either, but that's a horse
of a different color. I have seen information organized, perhaps not
efficiently for a user, but logically according to some writer. But the
grammar. Oh! the horror of it all.

<coarse bluntness>
No matter how well organized the project, no matter how well identified the
tasks, if the writing is crappy, the documentation will suck.
</coarse bluntness>

Chuck Martin
Sr. Technical Writer, SERENA Software

"People who use business software might despise it, but they are getting
paid to tolerate it....Most people who are paid to use a tool feel
constrained not to complain about that tool, but it doesn't stop them from
feeling frustrated and unhappy about it."
- "The Inmates are Running the Asylum"
Alan Cooper

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