Re: OT--"obvious" writing

Subject: Re: OT--"obvious" writing
From: Scott Wahl <wahl_scott -at- yahoo -dot- ca>
To: "TECHWR-L" <techwr-l -at- lists -dot- raycomm -dot- com>
Date: Tue, 9 Jan 2001 08:36:15 -0500 (EST)


I sincerely hope that you have not started another
ridiculous thread about how impossible those darned
SMEs are to work with.

I have two comments:

(1) First, it doesn't do any good to immediately get
your back up and be indigant about the programmer's
"arrogance". Why not give him the benefit of the doubt
and assume that he simply doesn't understand what is
obvious or not to your users.

Remember, that's your job - figuring out who the users
are, what they need to do, and what they need to know
to do it. So explain to the programmer why <xyz> isn't
obvious to a particular user group and explain
(patiently) how important it is that these users
understand it to use the product effectively.

(2) Maybe what you're planning to document is obvious.
I've seen lots of technical writers spend lots of time
to document things that their users already know. I
know when I started writing system administration
guides for UNIX-based software, it took me a while to
figure out what these sysadmins already knew and what
they need to learn from my documentation. Just a

Bottom line: technical writers are supposed to be
effective communicators. So try communicating with
your programmers. You should be able to explain quite
clearly why your documentation is important to
particular users, and why you need his help to produce
good documentation.


Scott Wahl
Manager, Customer Documentation
Bridgewater Systems Corporation

--- Mike <techmail_mike -at- yahoo -dot- com> wrote:
> I recently had trouble setting a time to discuss a
> software program with one of the programmers on my
> team. After refusing to work with my flexible
> times, he said, "I don't see why we need to document
> what is obvious already."
> Has anyone else on this list ever run into someone
> that arrogant?

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