Re: Pseudowriters

Subject: Re: Pseudowriters
From: "Bonnie Granat" <bgranat -at- att -dot- net>
To: "TECHWR-L" <techwr-l -at- lists -dot- raycomm -dot- com>
Date: Wed, 27 Dec 2000 22:49:55 -0500

-----Original Message-----
From: Andrew Plato <intrepid_es -at- yahoo -dot- com>

>Bonnie Granat wrote...
>> Nobody is advocating not understanding the topic. The assumption among
>> professionals is that the technical writer understands the topic.
>I do not think it is an assumption among professionals, and that is the
>problem. Bonnie, you an I agree here. I think all professional writers
>have mastery over BOTH content issues and communication issues. My point
>that content issues should usually outweigh issues of standards, procedure,

I beg your pardon, Andrew. Your statement above is quite different than
others you've made recently on this topic. I am delighted to learn that we
really do agree.

>>> Plans and conventions are 100% meaningless, irrelevant, and wasted
>>> if they are applied to inaccurate information.
>> No s**t, Sherlock. Nobody advocates applying good professional guidelines
>> to inaccurate information.
>We agree Bonnie. No need to get snippy.

Your assumptions that people are advocating using inaccurate information are
enough to engender a lot worse. <g>

>>> Good docs do convey a message. But they also convey a tone of "I have
>>> over this topic."
>> Only to the pseudowriter, who as I pointed out before, can think only of
>> himself. You prove my point.
>I am going to guess what you mean is that bad writers write to impress
>than to express as Michael West said.

I agree with nearly everything Michael West said on this subject, but I
confess I was being unkind to you. I apologize.

>And I agree with that. Bad writers put too much of their own opinions into
>their technical documents.

I think that may be true, but the bad writers I know simply don't know how
to communicate, don't attempt to organize, and when asked what something
means or how something works, say confidently, "I don't know." As an editor,
I am doing the work of these folks and I am not a happy camper. (I sometimes
write posts from another account under the pseudonym (you should pardon the
expression) Cecilia St. John, so you may have seen a recent plaintive
missive from me about my current situation. These are the folks who were
using the singular "they" until I came upon the scene and shrieked (just
kidding) my objection. Nice people, but the documentation set from hell.

(This is called editorializing among us former
>journalists.) My personal gripe is technical docs that bash Microsoft. So
>if Microsoft is huge an evil. It isn't appropriate to editorialize in a
>technical doc.

I couldn't agree with you more about this. I am one who happens to think
that if there had been no Microsoft, we might not have had the software
revolution we have had. I know that's probably a minority view, but I hold
it proudly.

>However, bad writers also rarely have intellectual command over the topic.
>This is usually what leads to editorializing. Hence, their documents show
>distinct lack of comprehension of the intricacies and dependencies in the
>subject matter. These bad writers never look beyond the text to ask
>like "why does this work this way?"

And my job is to deal with the disaster such writers create. My job is to
work with the writer as if he were a student, for the love of God. That is
not something for which I am being adequately compensated. I am, in fact,
writing the piece along with the writer. My company needs a technical
writer, and although they are going to ask me to write about some new
features for the Beta 2, they won't consider hiring me as a writer because,
my manager says, they need me as an editor. I have upped my salary
requirements recently online and have had nibbles for a higher salary
already, within the last five days. I could deal with the job and the
challenges of the writing quality and really dig in with attempts to move
them over to Microsoft style, but it is sooooo stressful.

>Having intellectual command over a topic is not the same as being
>self-absorbed. Furthermore, a little self-confidence in one's abilities
>not constitute "only thinking of oneself."

Of course, you are correct. Like someone I know on this list (hint, hint), I
tend to employ hyperbole without realizing that I am conveying that I hold a
position that is SO EXTREME that it might be regarded as beyond the pale.

You're really a pussycat, Andrew, aren't you????

Bonnie Granat

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