Re: HUMOR: I Need Help

Subject: Re: HUMOR: I Need Help
From: Bruce Byfield <bbyfield -at- progeny -dot- com>
To: "TECHWR-L" <techwr-l -at- lists -dot- raycomm -dot- com>
Date: Mon, 19 Feb 2001 15:36:42 -0800

Jeff Hanvey wrote:

> I don't exactly see it as wasted time. I think it is a valuable necessity. It's just that designing templates takes time away from the researching, writing, and editing. I'd just rather have something that I can customize quickly to the task at hand and move on to the meat of my job.

This comment is really just a softening of the original position.
For me, making sure that a template is suited to your audience and
the conditions under which it will be read, that it is easy to read
and easy to scan and (if relevant) suitable for single-sourcing is
every bit part of the meat of the job as making sure that the
information is accurate and clearly and precisely presented. If the
document isn't usable, you may as well not have written it.

> Well, some templates aren't necessarily universal. Most are,
however. That's the reason templates are so popular on the web:
they're easy to use and cover a wide range of uses. Imagery, font
choice, et cetera, are aesthetic differences that don't change the
basic idea of a template.

Again, a fundamental difference shows here. I find most free
templates far too generalized to be useful to me. Nor do I separate
aesthetics from functionality. For example, my font choice is
determined by my understanding of the audience and how the
documentation will be used - not whether I happen to like a font.

For that matter, my appreciation of a font is directly related to
what it is useful for. For example, I don't appreciate Gill Sans for
its beauty alone. I mainly appreciate it because it is flexible
enough to be used in a variety of ways.


> >Cutting and pasting from another manual would save time, too, but
>
> >that doesn't mean that you should do it.
>
> If the information is relative and necessary, you would, so long as you site that original source.

Only if the information was released under a public license. I'm an
open source advocate, but there's a difference between open source
and piracy. I might borrow information and cite it, but I wouldn't
just lift the wording wholesale. Aside from the legality (extensive
quoting would violate fair use) I respect any writer's efforts too
much.


> True. There is a fine line between being generous and being taken advantage of. If you feel you should be paid for the work, then by all means, charge for your time.

The point is that, when asking for templates, people are expecting
to get somebody's professional servicces for free. If someone posts
free templates to a web site, or otherwise shows their willingness
to be generous, fine. But it's very high-handed to ask and expect
someone to do so.

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


"As through this world I travel, I've met with many men,
Some will rob you with a six gun and some with a fountain pen,
But as through this world you travel, as through this world you
roam,
You won't ever see an outlaw drive a family from its home."
-Woody Guthrie, "The Ballad of Pretty Boy Floyd"

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