minimum level of product knowledge

Subject: minimum level of product knowledge
From: Bill Swallow <bill_swallow -at- yahoo -dot- com>
To: "TECHWR-L" <techwr-l -at- lists -dot- raycomm -dot- com>
Date: Wed, 3 Jan 2001 07:06:02 -0800 (PST)

Deborah Ray posts:
What is the minimum level of product knowledge
a tech writer needs to write end-user
* Basic knowledge of functionality and interface
* Option 1 (above) plus industry knowledge
* Advanced knowledge of the product (power user)
* Option 3 (above) plus industry knowledge
* Engineer-level knowledge of the product
* Option 5 (above) plus industry knowledge
* Other/none of the above


[drumroll please]

It depends.


You have a wide variety of users and a wide variety of
products, from toothbrushes and hand soap to
semiconductors and nuclear reactors. Likewise, you
have people ranging from high school dropouts to
multi-PhD grads using all of these things.

A person with multiple PhD's may know enough that hand
soap is for washing your hands, but because there are
some, well, interesting people out there, there are
always directions on the bar of soap, as well as
instructions on what to do in the case of misuse.
Sure, this is mostly aimed at what to do in the event
your toddler finds the soap, but... there are some
interesting people out there. *g*

[Aside] My father worked in the ER for a few years and
had the pleasure of meeting many interesting people.
If you ever find yourself asking "who on earth would
ever think of doing such a thing", talk to some ER
attending doctors and nurses. *g* [End aside]

So, getting back to the lost point of my post... *g*

A writer may only require minimal knowledge of a
product and little to no industry knowledge to
document end-user material, or the writer may require
a ton of product and industry knowledge to write
effectively for the audience. I don't think we could
ever settle on a set blanket minimum requirement.

Bill Swallow
Technical Writer
bswallow -at- poweradz -dot- com

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