Re: competitions (was RE: exposing the soft underbellyof "merit raises")

Subject: Re: competitions (was RE: exposing the soft underbellyof "merit raises")
From: Bruce Byfield <bbyfield -at- progeny -dot- com>
To: "TECHWR-L" <techwr-l -at- lists -dot- raycomm -dot- com>
Date: Wed, 07 Feb 2001 12:59:19 -0800

Michele Marques wrote:

> A couple of reasons (besides what you mention):
> * If your documentation wins an award, your marketing and sales folks can
> add "award-winning documentation" to their marketing/sales pieces.

This discussion came up a few weeks ago. However, given the number
of awards out there, anyone who can't add "award-winning
documentation" hasn't tried. :-)

Anyway, since most of the awards are unknown, I doubt they impress
anyone except the recipient.

> * In some competitions (e.g., the STC), you actually get detailed feedback
> from the judges. If you are a lone tech-writer, it can be helpful to get
> some outside feedback. Even if you are not a lone writer, it might be
> helpful to get feedback from people not so closely connected with your
> product. This isn't just for a "good job" slap on the back, but to get some
> constructive feedback on how you might improve the documentation.

I dunno. Maybe I'm drifting into a very pragmatic middle age. I
don't really care what most other writers think about my work. In
the first place, many writers, even some very good ones, make very
poor editors and can't tell the difference between their personal
preferences and genuine criticism. In the second place, my main
concern is that my employers approve my work and pay me for it. When
I want to improve it, I try to get user feedback.

Maybe that's because abstract criticism can mean very little if the
commenter doesn't have the context for the work. A case in point: a
couple of weeks ago, I helped with a joint news release. One outside
writer suggested that the opening have more hype, and I had to
explain that the target audience for the release was very suspicious
of PR, so I was deliberately under-pitching. What made theoretical
sense would have worked against us in this specific context.

Proofreading's another matter, of course, but that only requires a
literate person, and not necessarily a professional writer.

The only exception is when I'm working as part of a team, in which
case, I believe that the entire team should approve a project before
it's signed off.


--
Bruce Byfield 317.833.0313 bbyfield -at- progeny -dot- com
Director of Marketing and Communications, Progeny Linux Systems
Contributing Editor, Maximum Linux

"Of course, few admitted, even to themselves, that they bore
responsibility for their plight. They preferred to see themselves as
victims, and, like victims everywhere, they found explanations that
exonerated themselves from blame."
-Mike Dash, "Tulipomania"

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