Re: Being Resourceful

Subject: Re: Being Resourceful
From: Bruce Byfield <bbyfield -at- axionet -dot- com>
To: "TECHWR-L" <techwr-l -at- lists -dot- raycomm -dot- com>
Date: Sat, 23 Jun 2001 20:02:28 -0700

Andrew Plato wrote:

> Now, I know what your thinking: "if I can't trust the SMEs who can I
> trust." Yourself. You own the documents and they are your responsibility.
> You need to make sure the information is correct. This is why tech pubs
> groups where the writers are isolated from other aspects of the
> organization (such as QA, support, marketing, etc.) constantly struggle.
> Their isolation ruins their ability to be objective.

This is also why the tactic of learning just enough to do the manual is
dangerous. Sometimes, of course, the point at which you enter a project
doesn't leave you enough choice. A safer attitude is to learn from the
SMEs enough that you become informed on the topic - or, better yet, an

This attitude also has the side benefit of making the job more
interesting. Personally, I find that, even if I don't want to make the
subject my life's work, there are very few subjects that can't be
interesting for at least the first version of the manual.

As for writers being in other departments: if QA and support don't have
people who have the knowledge to function as SMEs for you, then the
company is in trouble.

Doesn't hurt if marketing has some expertise, either. No one can do a
decent job of selling something unless they have a reasonable
understanding of it, the delusions of many a marketing droid to the
contrary. I've heard the droids trying to pretend to knowledge that they
don't have (ahh, the joy of open floor plans...), and I've either wanted
to burst out laughing or slide under my desk in embarrassment as they
made fools of themselves.

Bruce Byfield 604.421.7177 bbyfield -at- axionet -dot- com

"Fool's luck can only take you so far ... after that you have to get out
and walk."
-Tom Holt, "Olympiad"


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