RE: More on Validating documentation

Subject: RE: More on Validating documentation
From: "Lisa Wright" <liwright -at- earthlink -dot- net>
To: "TECHWR-L" <techwr-l -at- lists -dot- raycomm -dot- com>
Date: Mon, 25 Mar 2002 08:44:17 -0800

I've never had the experience where technical people wouldn't take the
time to review the docs, although I've of course had a range of
experiences with quality of review. And I think I'd get a similar
reaction to the one you got--if anybody else looked at a doc and there
was later an error, they'd say "yep, I missed it too." I think it is too
bad if writers are working in environments where they aren't truly
considered part of the team. I think it's a sign of respect for the
developers to take the time to review the docs.

You know, this whole gigantic issue we keep going round and round on is
something that was never discussed in my classes, nor in my text books.
Maybe they do talk about it in the software oriented TW books, or more
now than they did a few years ago. I was not in a completely formal tech
writing program (we didn't have one at the undergrad level), but I did
take specific classes. I've always taken responsibility for my content
(that was part of the research process and my own internal drive), but
I've also just always assumed that the experts will have their brains
engaged when they review my docs. I know a lot, but I don't know
everything. I am an expert in what I do, but I am only very well
informed about what I'm writing about.

I'm also wondering if this issue of shared/sole responsibility for
content is pretty much restricted to software? I can't imagine a
manufacturing company saying "okay, it's your job and no one
else's--nobody's got your back, nobody's checking out what you say."
Frankly, I think that's a ludicrous idea.

As for respect (or lack thereof), well, I've never had the experience
others apparently have. But I also never go into a job projecting
anything other than professionalism. I take care of my own sandbox, and
I try not to bug the developers (or project managers, or anyone else)
with stuff I know they don't care about. Now, I understand that some
people work for companies where they are not treated well. I feel bad
for them, but I also think that if it's their third TW job and they're
still experiencing the same thing, maybe they need to ask better
questions during the interview process. I can understand running into a
bad situation. I can't imagine not doing something about it.

Connie's right, personality counts. TWs have to be tough, I think. There
are so many strong egos, at least in software. You're almost always
going to be outnumbered, and you have to be able to stand your ground.


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More on Validating documentation: From: Eric J. Ray

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