Re: Archimedes Socrates, ace tech writer, wins another one
I find that this is not a valid assumption. It may be how things
*should be*, but in fact many 'in the field' lack basic writing skills.
I don't mean that everybody has basic writing skills. I mean that nobody is likely to argue that basic writing skills are needed.
To me, as a product user, the writer's technical expertise or
lack thereof is immaterial. If he or she is an expert *communicator*, I will find the content suitable for my purposes. As to whether the author really "knows" the subject matter, or is only capable of acquiring, organizing, and transmitting facts accurately and efficiently enough to satisfy my requirements -- I care not at all.
Of course you care. The writer has to have something to communicate. It doesn't matter how good the writer is if he or she doesn't understand the material, or can't present it in a way that's useful to you.
(The opposite is also true: it doesn't matter how much the writer understands if he or she can't communicate it, but that's not what is being discussed).
Which complaint do you hear more -- that the instructions didn't make things clear, or that the instructions were clear but the writer didn't go into enough technical details?
The second alternative is somewhat misframed. When writers don't have enough technical understanding, what they write may be clear enough on a sentence by sentence basis, but the overall section is usually unclear in the sense that the user doesn't have a good grasp of the topic after reading it.
Also, understanding the subject is probably a prerequisite for writing clearly about it. How can you clarify what you don't understand? I suspect that you can only illustrate your lack of comprehension. Or, perhaps,you could also repeat mindlessly what you're told - in which case, you're not doing your job, so far as I'm concerned.
Actually, a lack of understanding often lies behind a lack of clarity. When people don't understand what they are writing about, they are more likely to fudge, resorting to inflated diction or throwing in all the technical terms they can to hide their lack of understanding. A user might receive a superficial impression that lack of clarity is the problem, but the real problem could be lack of understanding.
But, to answer your question: I hear (or have) as many complaints about lack of knowledge as I do about lack of clarity. Both result in adequate documentation.
Bruce Byfield 604.421.7177 bbyfield -at- axionet -dot- com
"We feel the breeze from the storm to come,
And up and down this coast
We're waiting for the wheel to turn."
A landmark hotel, one of America's most beautiful cities, and three and a half days of immersion in the state of the art:
IPCC 01, Oct. 24-27 in Santa Fe. http://ieeepcs.org/2001/
+++ Miramo -- Database/XML publishing automation. See us at +++
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+++ More info: http://www.axialinfo.com http://www.miramo.com +++
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Re: Archimedes Socrates, ace tech writer, wins another one: From: Mike Stockman
Re: Archimedes Socrates, ace tech writer, wins another one: From: Bruce Byfield
Re: Archimedes Socrates, ace tech writer, wins another one: From: Michael West
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