Re: More on Validating documentation

Subject: Re: More on Validating documentation
From: kcronin -at- daleen -dot- com
To: "TECHWR-L" <techwr-l -at- lists -dot- raycomm -dot- com>
Date: Mon, 25 Mar 2002 08:51:01 -0700


Eric, a list member who looks an awful lot like our moderator/listowner,
asks:

>....in your experience, are relationships with developers
>really as non-existent or dysfunctional as some threads on
>TECHWR-L would suggest?


Yes. Not all of them, but enough to make life challenging. I've
particularly seen this dysfunction perpetuated in smaller companies who
lionize one or two of their key programmers, not holding them to the same
minimum standards of behavior one might expect from other creatures who
pee indoors.

By allowing these elite few to be "above the law," these companies made it
VERY difficult for "mere tech writers" to gain the attention/cooperation
of these vital SMEs. I typically tape-recorded my rare "audiences" with
these SMEs, both to help me clarify my findings, and to make it
conspicuously clear to the SME that I considered THEIR time very
important, and was taping them to avoid any redundant interactions with
them in the future. They seemed to like that, along with any other
acknowledgment I gave them of their obvious superiority to me in every
way.

Hate to sound like Tina the TW, but that's what I've run into, at least
with the "star" programmers, who are usually the ones responsible for
whatever "cutting edge" advances are being made in the company's products.

Regular, in-the-trenches programmers are MUCH easier to deal with, and can
usually be won over by humor and willingness to be flexible to their
schedules. And food. Can't go wrong with food.


Eric further asked:
>Is there really no sense of
>"we're all working together to make this
>overall product
>as good as we can make it"?


My experience here has not been much better, I'm afraid. But I blame it
more on the companies than on the specific employees. I've worked at two
companies that made it very clear that documentation was not considered a
profit driver, and as such, was on the tail end of the food chain.

In one "SME interview" with a VP, he actually said (in an effort to
*inspire* me, believe it or not), "Normally we don't give a s**t about
documentation, but for this new product it's really important, so I need
this to be really GOOD, okay?" Boy, he got me all fired up with that one.
I resigned a week later, in a rare moment of vindication made possible by
a much stronger job market than the one we currently face. Good times....



-Keith Cronin
______________________

Tech writers. We're NOT anal retentive.
But before you read the rest of this sig line, please reset the default
font of your browser or e-mail program to a proportionately spaced serif
font - that's really the only way to get the sig line's true effect.
Preferably Georgia, but I *suppose* that you could use Times New Roman in
a pinch. But definitely not a monospaced font. And don't even *think*
about going with a sans serif font. I mean, really!

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