Re: SMEs and me

Subject: Re: SMEs and me
From: Glen Warner <gdwarner -at- ricochet -dot- net>
To: "TECHWR-L" <techwr-l -at- lists -dot- raycomm -dot- com>
Date: Thu, 6 Jul 2000 10:49:25 -0700

"Sierra Godfrey" <kittenbreath -at- hotbot -dot- com> wrote:

> Hello,
>
> A few questions:
>
> How often do SMEs give you their write-up of a manual, or at least
the
> information, before you start on your work? Would you say that this
is a
> common thing to happen?

It's only happened to me once -- though it wasn't a whole manual, just
an installation procedure. Like your SME, he didn't want anything
changed.

Fixed the typos. Wanted to verify the procedure with the technicians
that actually did the procedure -- to see if they found any problems
with the procedure, or, better yet, if they found any shortcuts, etc.

Alas, the SME wasn't pleased ("Oh, yeah; I meant to warn you about
that guy," said my mentor), and the lead tech I needed to interview
was gone for the day, so the manual went out with his installation
procedure as he wrote it -- minus the typos.

> If you do have experience with SMEs giving you their information in
what
> they think is a manual (or other output) format, how much liberty do
you take
> to change it into readable and digestible information (what we all
are trained
> to do as technical writers)?

"Dammit, Jim, I'm an engineer, not a tech writer!"

If you could only get your SME to say that as a mantra ....

> This goes back to an earlier post about the engineer here infecting
my mind
> with his propaganda. I ask the questions above because I'm catching
a lot of
> flack now from him for formatting his information (with much
addition of my
> own research) into a user manual, different from the way he
originally wrote.
> it He didn't want anything changed.

Ordinarily, I'd recommend putting all the blame on "The Style Guide."
But, if I remember your situation correctly, you're a Lone Techwriter,
new in the position, and there is no style guide.

If that's the case, perhaps throwing one together would help.

Even better, since the engineer thinks he's a writer, get his help in
putting it together. If you bother him enough about serial commas,
headers, etc., etc., he'll probably run screaming for the hills! :o)

.... ideally.

(*snip*)

--gdw

Obligatory .sig:

"Ladies and gentlemen, in the event of a sudden loss of pressure
inside the cabin, an air mask will drop down. Unfortunately, the
little plastic bag will not fill up with life giving oxygen until you
pay each of us five bucks. Enjoy your flight."
--Another Recently Unemployed Flight Attendant





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