Re: FWD: What a predicament!

Subject: Re: FWD: What a predicament!
From: John Posada <jposada01 -at- yahoo -dot- com>
To: "TECHWR-L" <techwr-l -at- lists -dot- raycomm -dot- com>
Date: Fri, 1 Mar 2002 11:04:07 -0800 (PST)

> I'm an experienced writer and a long-time member
> of this list. In all my years of technical writing,
> I have never been put in a situation like this.

I'm going to take an unpopular position from what I can see, everyone

> every step of the way. But somehow, between design
> and execution, the VP of Engineering got it into
> his head that if we wanted to be successful, we
> needed to "embrace" an already successful product
> that sells to the same market but would not be a
> direct competitor to our new software.

First...Products come along all the time that attempt to "emulate"
other popular products. Off-brand soda bottles use enough similarity
to associate themselves with Coke and Pepsi, off-brand shampoo, the
same thing. Pharmacy chains such as Rite-Aid and CVS come out with
generic off-the-shelf products that look VERY similar to market
leaders and place them right next to them.

So...aside from whether it is "proper", I don't think making a set of
manuals that look like someone else's manuals is illegal.

> That's pretty much when the "fit hit the shan".
> "We need screenshots in the help,

I like screenshots in the help

> we need context-sensitive topics in
> the TOC, we need you to document the
> print dialog, we need you to copy this
> manual as closely as possible,..."
> "It's not in the doc plan; it's not

Plans, schedules, do change

> compliant with MS standards, there

One thread, we're bashing MS, the next, we argue compliancy...we
gotta make up our minds.

> are usability problems there, it

more subjective than objective

> is directly contrary to copyright
> and intellectual property laws!"

Is making something resemble something else enough that by looking at
it, remind you of something else, illegal?

Just as MS publishes their style guide for Windows, Sun publishes
theirs for UNIX...and they include a CD WITH the templates...kinda
makes you wonder if they aren't encouraging copycatting.

> "We don't care, do it anyway!"

I think at this point, its turning into a pissing contest.
Personally, I don't think they are any more wrong than most companies
on various matters and I really don't think, from what you've said
here, that they are breaking the law...they're just short of
imagination that would enable them to be successful on their own and
they are using the other company as their template.

IMHO, you're taking it way too personal. You've documented your side,
you've explained it, now it's time to either take their money or not.

John Posada, Senior Technical Writer
Current gig ending 4/15
mailto:john -at- tdandw -dot- com, 732-259-2874

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