Re: anyone else inthe same boat?

Subject: Re: anyone else inthe same boat?
From: bash <bashful7 -at- earthlink -dot- net>
To: "TECHWR-L" <techwr-l -at- lists -dot- raycomm -dot- com>
Date: Thu, 21 Dec 2000 13:42:43 -0800

Andrew Plato wrote:

> I wholly disagree with some of the advice from some people on

Apparently, that feeling is mutual...

> I
> think your best course of action is:1. Find the lead engineers.
> meetings with them. Talk with them about the product. Get to know the
> and what they expect of you.

In addition, communicate how they can help you. It is a TEAM you're
aiming for,
it not?

> 2. Learn the products and technologies you will be documenting. Surf
the net
> for information about your competitors. Get appropriate books on the
> topics. For example, if your product uses Java, get a basic Java
book. This
> gives you a common language with the engineers, something considerably
> valuable than a style guide.

Perhaps they are of a more equal value to most of us.

> 3. Read all the existing documents.

Depending on that number, eventually read all the documents. You don't
want to
like a work-shirking twit, do you?

> 4. Start with a small, simple project first. Make sure everybody
knows what
> your responsibility is at the company. "I am the person writing all

Start with what is the most pressing need - in many cases, if you're a
this is the establishment of conventions, standards and all those other
things found in plans and style guides.

> 5. Find out who will be reviewing your docs. Ask them how they prefer
> documents. Conform to their wishes.

This needs to be a two-way street - a collaboration. What if the
editor's an
and truly diminishes the effectiveness of the document? Trust me, these

> 6. Be humble, be respectful, and accept criticism. Do not fall in
love with
> your words. Do not throw a tantrum when the engineers reject your
first work.
> You have to please them as much as you have to please the readers.

Respectfully push back at your engineers if THEY are diminishing the
value of
document for the intended audience. Cooperation and humbleness are
great, as
as they don't make you a doormat and cause you to ignore the reason
in all the effort.

> 7. Produce results quickly. Prove yourself capable.

This is always good advice.

> DO NOT...
> 1. DO NOT Waste time with documentation plans, project plans, style
> other one-off work. This is a tremendous waste of time and energy.
You need
> to prove your value to the rest of the team right away. Spending time

> documentation plans that NOBODY will read just makes you look like a
> work-shirking twit. Engineers do not care about your style guide. And
> style guide does little to prove your writing capabilities. A lone
writer at
> company does not need style guides and project plans. Do it all in

The main reason THIS lone writer was hired was to make consistent the
our site.
My managers WANT me to make plans, and I just finished our style guide.
using this
as a measure of my future progress.

> 2. DO NOT show up loaded for a battle. You must be accommodating to
the other
> team members. You are here to help them, not the other way around.

You are there to help each other, or you're just not a TEAM.

> Find a way
> to work inside existing patterns first. Showing up and demanding
> start conforming to some arbitrary documentation process is a great
way to
> yourself ignored and shoved in a corner (and possibly fired).

Many writers are hired to establish the process, and will be "possibly"
they don't.

> 3. DO NOT confuse the idealistic theories of books (like Ms. Hackos'
> the harsh realities of everyday writing. The world is not a
> place. People resist change and order unless there is a clean path to

Which often requires a plan...

> If you are new and finding your footing the worst thing in the world
you can
> is start demanding some foreign process get implemented. Produce
> then you can build an empire.

But, gee, I was hired to implement process...

> You do not get authority just because you show up and have a title.
> is earned after you prove your capability. Capability is not measure
in how
> well you can conform to your own standard. That is like saying,
you're great
> at being you.

Capability in our shop is measured by how well the standard developed
company's needs. They won't be MY standards - they'll be what the
company needs
- I
sure as hell am not THAT arrogant.

Of course, if they are different from YOUR standards, and you're too
lazy to
for the greater good, that's YOUR issue, innit?

> Tech writers are judged by the outside world on their ability to
> insightful, useful, and technically accurate documents.

Which requires planning and consistency.

> Nobody in the outside
> world cares one tiny iota what style guide you used or what
> recognized process you implemented. Therefore, don't waste your time
> things. Find a way to make the documents GOOD first.

Which requires planning and consistency.

> Then hone the process
> later.

ALWAYS hone the process, now AND later.

Anyone else here glad they don't work for Andrew?

> Andrew Plato
> __________________________________________________


bashful7 -at- earthlink -dot- net
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