Re: minimum level of product knowledge

Subject: Re: minimum level of product knowledge
From: Bruce Byfield <bbyfield -at- axionet -dot- com>
To: "TECHWR-L" <techwr-l -at- lists -dot- raycomm -dot- com>
Date: Wed, 03 Jan 2001 09:52:39 -0800

Bill Swallow wrote:
> Deborah Ray posts:
> What is the minimum level of product knowledge
> a tech writer needs to write end-user
> documentation?
> * 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
> Well...
> [drumroll please]
> It depends.
> :)

I agree, but I doubt if the result could be acceptable below
"Advanced knowledge of the product" and "industry knowledge"
("Option 3 (above) plus industry knowledge). If it's less, I suspect
that the writer would have a hard time saying anything that a user
couldn't learn independently by playing about. Similarly, without
industry knowledge, giving any context for the information would be
hard. And, as might be suspected from my previous posts on this
subject, I consider that a miniumum - the more information you have,
the better

However, when that knowledge is required is another story. From the
company's viewpoint, a writer who has that knowledge when hired is
ideal. In practical terms, however, all that matters is that the
writer have that knowledge by the time the manual is finished. Many
times, the act of trying to explain can increase understanding. It's
not ideal, but I suspect that many experienced writers have had to
work that way throughout much of their career.

Bruce Byfield, Outlaw Communications
Contributing Editor, Maximum Linux
604.421.7189 bbyfield -at- axionet -dot- com

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