Re: Swaggin' for Dollars

Subject: Re: Swaggin' for Dollars
From: "Tom Murrell" <tmurrell -at- columbus -dot- rr -dot- com>
To: "TECHWR-L" <techwr-l -at- lists -dot- raycomm -dot- com>
Date: Thu, 06 Apr 2000 20:58:42 -0400

>From: Andrew Plato <intrepid_es -at- yahoo -dot- com>
> This is the best time ever to be a tech writer, because there is
> so much complex crap out there that morons need to understand.

This sentence leapt out at me for one simple reason. I do not quibble here
just to be difficult. Even though I like the "For Dummies" books, I don't
consider myself a moron. Moreover, I am offended whenever a writer "writes
down" to me as if telling me that I am really too stupid to understand what
I'm reading.

My concern with the above sentence is that if any writer thinks that way
about her or his audience, that thinking is bound to come through to the
reader of the work. If I were working with a new writer who expressed this
sentiment, I would try to correct that writer's thinking about the audience.
If I were working with an experienced writer who thought that way, one of us
would have to go. If I were interviewing a prospective writer--no matter
how good his or her qualifications--if he or she thought of the audience as
morons, I would not hire that writer.

And I damn sure would not work for a boss who felt that way. Nor do I think
such an attitude can be passed off as a joke. Part of having a professional
attitude in technical writing is to think of your audience with respect.
"Moron" is not a term of respect.

This is NOT a personal attack on the author of this remark, but I hope it is
a clear attack on the idea that it is somehow acceptable to think of ones
audience as morons because the writer knows something the audience does not.
Is that not why we have a job?

Tom Murrell

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