Re[2]: Best Documentation

Subject: Re[2]: Best Documentation
From: Harry Hager <hhager -at- dttus -dot- com>
To: techwr-l -at- lists -dot- raycomm -dot- com, tonymar -at- hotmail -dot- com
Date: 07 Feb 2000 13:10:49 -0600


Tony,

You wrote:

>When was the last time that you participated in or witnessed a tech
>comm project that fell apart because of poor writing skills?

>Note: I don't mean situations in which, because of poor task
>analysis, estimating, graphics, or project management, the writing
>did not make sense.
>I mean situations in which these other things were properly done, but
>things fell apart because of poor writing technique.

>In over fifteen years of tech comm experience, including leadership
>of some very large scale projects, I have never experinced such.

>If you have experienced such, please let me know which part of the
>world you live in - I'm moving!

Now I think when you talk about tech witing and the relative minor
importance of writing skills, you are assuming a certain level of
competence of said tech writers in the area of writing skills.

If you assume a certain level of competence in the area of writing
skills, then it follows that a project would fail for reasons other
than writing skills.

However, what others are saying, I think, and what I'm saying is that
you cannot assume that every one who calls themself a technical writer
has this certain level of competence in writing skills. Does every
beginning tech writer have a competent skill set in the area of
writing skills? I don't think so.

In all those 15 years of your tech comm experience, are you saying
you've never worked on a project or heard of a project where a writer
was replaced for failing to write adequate material?

Are you saying you've never worked on a project or heard of a project
where a more experienced writer was brought in to help a struggling
writer?

Are you saying you've never worked on a project or heard of a project
where you knew that one writer just wasn't pulling their weight and
the other writers had to work overtime to compensate to get the
project done on time?

Or are you saying that even in situations such as those described
above, it's not a problem with the writing skills, it's something
else. Maybe it's estimating that writer A could write 2 1/2 pages a
day when we later find out that writer A could only write at most 2
1/2 pages a week; and then it needed heavy editing. So in this
hypothetical case, would you say that the real problem was the
estimating rather that the writing skills?

H. Jim Hager





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