Re: Re; Validating documentation

Subject: Re: Re; Validating documentation
From: Andrew Plato <intrepid_es -at- yahoo -dot- com>
To: "TECHWR-L" <techwr-l -at- lists -dot- raycomm -dot- com>
Date: Sat, 23 Mar 2002 20:22:04 -0800 (PST)

"Elna Tymes" wrote...

> I can think of hundreds of examples where system changes happened at the
> last minute, sometimes by many people, without the knowledge of the
> writer no matter how diligent the writer or how involved the writer had
> been in keeping in contact with the SME's.

Yeah, and that sucks. So you improvise, adapt, and make the changes.

> I can think of more than one occasion
> where one or more writers theoretically had access to the same release
> version of code (or product) as did QA, only to have some developer slip
> in another version with - obviously - undocumented changes without
> anyone or anything letting the writer know.

If developers are slipping in changes without anybody knowing, then the
organization has much bigger issues than bad docs.

> Writers may have authority - and responsibility - to write documents
> that correctly reflect a product, but when last-minute changes occur and
> the writer isn't told, how is said writer responsible for that part of
> the accuracy of the document? And don't tell me this doesn't happen
> often -- it happens all the time, despite the best controls and
> intentions.

Sure it does. But that was never really my point. My point was that a writer
needs to take responsibility for the material he/she produces.

Clearly if the sun explodes, you are free to go home and miss your deadlines.
We could nit pick all day over all the acceptable reasons why you might miss a
detail. But that's not the point. The point is - if you own the doc, you got to
make sure its right.

> One of the problems I have with your attitude about this, Andrew, is
> that you seem to assume that writers are a lazy lot, that they'll shirk
> responsibility wherever they can, and not try to fix the problem so it
> doesn't occur again.

I think everybody is that way. Most people are lazy, selfish, and slow to
learn. They get into a rut and follow that rut most of their lives. Writers are
no different here.

Ask any normal business owner who works 90 hours a week. You lose a lot of
tolerance for whiners, blamers, bitchers, and cry babies who are always upset
that somebody didn't properly respect their tender genius.

> Funny, in 30+ years in this business, I have known
> maybe a half dozen writers like that, while the rest have been diligent,
> careful, and as thorough as situations allowed. Maybe you've just
> hired the lemons and I've had experience with the rest -- I don't
> honestly know why your experience is so different from mine.

You and and I are clearly different people, with different attitudes, so it
isn't really a big stretch to explain why we would therefore have different

> To quote your own advice to you:
> > Improvise, adapt and resolve!<

Right on!

Andrew Plato

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