ADMIN: Revisiting the TECHWR-L Community

Subject: ADMIN: Revisiting the TECHWR-L Community
From: Eric Ray <ejray -at- raycomm -dot- com>
To: techwr-l -at- lists -dot- raycomm -dot- com
Date: Fri, 02 Jun 2000 13:20:49 -0600


Eric and Deb both here....

We wanted to take a minute to review and revisit the
status of the TECHWR-L community since we moved the
list in August, 1999. As many of you recall, the
TECHWR-L list was moved last year from a server at
Oklahoma State University to one that RayComm owns
and maintains. We made this change with the encouragement
of Oklahoma State University's Computing and Information
Services because of the excessive demands on their
resources that the TECHWR-L list required.

Before we made this change last August, we established
goals to:
* ensure that TECHWR-L continued to be available
* ensure that TECHWR-L continued to be a free resource
for the technical communication community
* make TECHWR-L a self-sustaining resource, achieved
through (list and site) advertising revenue

We're happy to report that we have met these goals.
With the help of some donations to cover the
(estimated) $14,000 to move the list and maintain
it for the first year, we were able to secure server
and software resources to maintain a list of this size
and traffic. And, with advertising revenue, we've been
able to maintain TECHWR-L and enhance the list and
site more than we'd ever hoped. For example, back
in March, we were able to upgrade the Lyris
software, which cost $3,400, to help improve message
delivery speed. We were also able to upgrade the
server hardware, which has also improved message
delivery speed and server reliability, and can
sustain the increased monthly costs (about $200/month)
for this upgrade. Further, we were able to make a
fairly substantial donation to Brian Schaffner
(, who developed the open source
scripts that form the basis for the new TECHWR-L
Employment Central feature. We expect to make
another donation this month to the developer of
another set of open source scripts that we use
on the TECHWR-L site. Additionally (and perhaps
most significantly, as you'll see below), we've
just recently begun paying for new articles
and content on the site, which has provided new
voices and strengthened the overall resource.

To date, we've taken the revenue we've received
above and beyond the initial first-year start-up
cost donations and used it to enhance the list
or site. Yes, contrary to popular belief, we're
still donating our time to maintaining and enhancing
the TECHWR-L community. Folks, we're not making
millions. We're not even making $.50. And, to answer
the pointed questions we receive offlist, we're not
planning on retiring off of the TECHWR-L community.
We believe in "doing the right thing," and that
includes volunteering our time for a resource
that we believe in.

So, beyond upgrades to improve the list, we've
used our time to add several new free services
and features to the TECHWR-L site:

* TECHWR-L Employment Central, which is a technical writing
job resource that's free for both job posters and
* An improved TECHWR-L Calendar, which is a free resource
for people to post and browse events and activities
of interest to the community
* Approximately 250 new entries to the TECHWR-L
Resources Directory, bringing the total to more
than 550 links to books and sites
* The TECHWR-L weekly poll, which provides a new
forum for you to see how others in the community
respond to relevant issues
* The TECHWR-L Mentoring Feature, which aims to
match students or people starting out in the
profession with technical writers who are
interested in being a mentor
* Two semi-monthly columns: "From the Trenches," which aims
to bridge the gap between technical writers and the
people we work with in our day-to-day jobs, and "From
the Sidelines," which aims to bring focus (and humor!)
to topics that spawn a range of opinions, viewpoints,
or implications
* The Daily Summary Mailing, a separate mailing list
that summarizes new jobs posted to Employment Central
each day, as well as summarizes upcoming events on
the Calendar

But, what about the future of the TECHWR-L list and
site? In moving forward, we have in mind the following

* To provide both a substantive information resource
and an online home for the technical communication
* To continue providing a free resource that gives
people in the community a voice
* To help bridge the gap between technical communicators
and the people we interact with in our day-to-day jobs.
* To educate people about what technical communicators do,
why, and how
* To provide a variety of information resources and features
that meet a variety of interests and needs
* To provide opportunities for people to contribute to
the site, including freelance authors, people looking to
expand their experience to include writing articles, and
students/interns looking to gain experience and portfolio
* To grow as an online community for technical communicators
worldwide, beyond just the TECHWR-L community

In short, we will continue making the TECHWR-L list
available and

*drum roll here*

we are officially making the TECHWR-L site a paying
market and publication.

In the near future, you will see old/outdated
content removed from the site and begin seeing

* New content more frequently
* More substantive, timely articles and less content
that's based on topic summaries from the TECHWR-L list
* Older, but still relevant material thoroughly edited
and cleaned up
* Content areas that are developed evenly, rather than
only as content becomes available
* New authors and voices
* Brown Bag Seminars--scheduled chats lasting 30-45
minutes that are hosted by invited "guest speakers"
who are experts on a given topic

We're still working behind-the-scenes to finalize
things like a publication format, the style guide,
submission guidelines, and article payment structures,
but we wanted to announce this (very exciting to us!)
change to make you aware of our plans and goals.

Stay tuned for more information and updates,
Eric and Deborah

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