Re: Oh those tender users

Subject: Re: Oh those tender users
From: Andrew Plato <intrepid_es -at- yahoo -dot- com>
To: "TECHWR-L" <techwr-l -at- lists -dot- raycomm -dot- com>
Date: Sat, 30 Dec 2000 18:49:57 -0800 (PST)

"Bonnie Granat" wrote..

> It's saying that if an end user is a nontechnical person, a nontechnical
> technical writer is a good test subject for the adequacy of documentation
> for nontechnical users and specifically, that a nontechnical technical
> writer is ideal to present technical information to nontechnical users.
> Maybe you write only for programmers or developers, but this list is for
> writers who address a variety of audiences.

That's not writing, that's quality assurance. QA people test the validity of
products and then report defects. Writers produce content. I do not think it
is fair that people who do not generate content call themselves writers. They
are not writing.

You are correct, it is good to test products and documents before they are
delivered. But that job is usually reserved for the QA staff and not tech

> I wonder if we aren't misunderstanding each other. I am saying that I don't
> need to be a database developer to write about a program that uses a
> database, as long as I know what users must know so that they do not ruin
> the database in the software. To imply that people who write about
> technology must be experts in that technology is silly.

You might not need to be a crack database developer, but you do need to
understand HOW database systems work and how the product works with the
database. In essence, you need the equivalent of a "database developer 101"

And you **DO** need to know more than just what the users should or should not
do. You cannot accurately anticipate the questions users might ask without a
solid comprehension of the technologies involved.

As a TECHNICAL writer, you're job is to communicate information about a product
and/or technology to users/readers. If you don't understand the
product/technology -- how on earth can you be sure you're communicating the
right information? You can't. Ignorant writers cannot produce intelligent

And as for the theories of style and the psychology of learning. These are
totally useless if the person implementing those theories communicates
inaccurate, irrelevant, or absurdly simplistic information.

Andrew Plato

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