re: McDonald's coffee, or does a self-evident label prevent user injury?

Subject: re: McDonald's coffee, or does a self-evident label prevent user injury?
From: "Christensen, Kent" <lkchris -at- sandia -dot- gov>
To: "TECHWR-L" <techwr-l -at- lists -dot- raycomm -dot- com>
Date: Mon, 8 Jan 2001 15:44:30 -0700

re: None of this was intended to actually prevent injury. It was a CYA sign
to protect the company's bottom line. The company's feeling was that to sit
down with people and warn them of the dangers of skiing was condescending to
their customers and would hurt business, but they didn't want to be sued by
someone who bought tickets, skied, fell, then sued.

Why ... welcome to the world of the tech writer! Yes it is more than just
creating steps. It is CYA. It is legal protection. It is marketing.

Tech writing is a vibrant, ever-changing, never-perfect social system just
like legal systems. The list may have solved the "Baby Boomer" question
with just one response, but that is unbelievably rare. Every day we make
decisions, then revise them and improve the process for next time. Which
ultimately prevails? On any given day, always the legal system, of course
(see Florida). But we want to do it better next time. Yes we are, always
have been, and always will be a subset of the legal system. Do not fear this
... learn it. It's the job. You'll do your job better when you respect all
its parts. Respect for what is now is a good start toward becoming an
effective contributor toward improving it, isn't it?

How can people as versatile as we be seen with bitterness? Perhaps it's
actually envy. We're almost "most popular." Let's see, we not only know how
to work with engineers/programmers, but legal and marketing as well. I don't
understand, however, "I don't want to do user interface design, I just want
to write." Seems to me we are right there at the user interface if not the
interface itself. That sort of misunderstanding of reality, that sort of
"were NOT all in this together" approach, could easily lead to reactions in
others that could be seen as bitterness.

CYA? For my part, I'm pleased when someone takes the time to remind me of
my own personal repsonsibility by providing me a warning sign. Feels like
being respected, to me. Feels like they care. Feels like they're not sloppy.
As a writer I welcome the chance to show this kind of respect toward others.
Where's the problem here?

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