Re: Contractors - Typ Job Duties?

Subject: Re: Contractors - Typ Job Duties?
From: Sandra Charker <scharker -at- connectives -dot- com>
To: techwr-l -at- lists -dot- raycomm -dot- com
Date: Wed, 08 Mar 2000 16:13:29 +1100

Tony Markatos asked:

Do TW contractors do a lot reorganization and rewrite of existing (poor quality) documentation? Is this the most common task performed (vs original content creation)? Also any comments on the below would be appreciated.


We're talking software TW here right?

Yep. A healthy proportion of the available work is reorganizing and rewriting rubbish, and it can pay very well. Another large proportion is updating semi-terrible documents for new features, and having to make the new bits match the old. Original content creation is probably slight less common than original software creation.

OTOH, as a contractor you're a business and it's up to you define your market - the agencies are just one of the ways you get to it. If one kind of work gives you the screaming heebies you don't have to take it.

It occurred to me that this was NOT a writing test; it was a test of my willingness to pour hear-and-soul over non-sense time-and-time-again until I could make some sense out of it.

Out of curiosity, what did you do?

FWIW, if I thought the job might work out somehow (say because I knew the company and knew that I had a solid knowledge of the subject domain), I think I'd write some comment that I couldn't work on it without background information to ensure that I didn't distort the meaning, maybe with some pieces highlighted as examples. I'd also have a candid discussion with the agency.

However, the horrible sample *might mean that the company is taking a tentative first step to improving the docs. I've taken a couple of short jobs where that turned out to be the case (I figure I can stand anything for 3 months). One finished up 5 years, 2 platform ports, and 3 software versions later with major changes to the UI, a complete restructure and rewrite of the doc set, and considerable satisfaction all round.

The exercise of any writing skill was not a primary task. Is this what contract TW is all about?

Dirty jobs can be lucrative jobs; you have to decide how dirty you're willing to get. As far as the actual work goes, contract TW is not so different from salaried TW.

Sandra Charker

mailto:scharker -at- connectives -dot- com

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