And finally, the sign-off is...

Subject: And finally, the sign-off is...
From: "Carnall, Jane" <Jane -dot- Carnall -at- compaq -dot- com>
To: "TECHWR-L" <techwr-l -at- lists -dot- raycomm -dot- com>
Date: Mon, 30 Oct 2000 15:00:47 -0000

I've been working on a document with an SME who has been writing a lot of
the first-draft material, which is then edited and reformatted, etc, by me.
She's responsible for content, I'm responsible for process, language,
grammar, spelling, punctuation... you know, the "pretty stuff".

This is not my favourite way to work, but it's the way that has been agreed
upon for this project.

When the SME doesn't like the way I edited something, she doesn't bother
commenting: she just goes back to her original document and pastes her
version of the section or the paragraph over my edited version. I explained
to her last week - and she appeared to take it in - that this doesn't really
save her valuable time, it just means that instead of her writing her
comments she gets to come over to my desk and comment in person, since all
too often I *can't* simply leave her paragraph as is: badly constructed
sentences, inconsistent use of language, strings of nouns all in a row, use
of "it" referring back to godknowswhat... (Well, I didn't go into all that
detail, I just said that it was an informationally-inadequate way of
indicating what is wrong with my edits.)

Now we're coming up to deadline, and I sent her a final version of the
manual. She sent me it back with a note saying that as we didn't have time
for a final review cycle (true: this has to be signed off by end of day
today) would I please just include her changes as is.

And while most of her changes are little things (though there are a lot of
them, and she doesn't like using Word comments, she uses Track Changes
instead) in a couple of places she has, guess what, just pasted in her
original text over my edited paragraphs. Again.

Jane Carnall

Deadlines are the documentation equivalent of black holes: the closer the
deadline approaches, the harder it becomes to escape its pull, and the
faster events accelerate in their rush towards the deadline; at the
technical communication equivalent of an "event horizon", nothing escapes
that pull. And the closer you approach a deadline, the faster things are
moving and the less time everyone has to react appropriately. (Hart's First
Law, thank you Geoff!)

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