RE: Patronizing - and it was RE: Out of Work Tech Writers

Subject: RE: Patronizing - and it was RE: Out of Work Tech Writers
From: Geoff Purchase <Geoff -dot- Purchase -at- ReTechGlobal -dot- com>
To: "TECHWR-L" <techwr-l -at- lists -dot- raycomm -dot- com>
Date: Thu, 20 Jun 2002 11:02:18 +1000

|I sometimes get that I am being patronizing when I describe to
|someone how
|to do something, as I tend to describe each step in clear
|"technical-writerese detail". Such as (1) careful with the hot
|water, (2)
|now you add the coffee....

|For example, "careful that jug will topple" (as it just looks
|too tall, and
|unbalanced)....knowing that in a manual I would probably have
|a warning not
|to use that type of jug, or not place it in a certain
|spot........and a few
|minutes later, as everyone has ignored to RTFM, or in this case LTTTW
|(Listen To The Technical Writer), the incident occurs.
|Has anyone else noticed this?
|Is this just a trait of people who are, or want to be,
|technical writers?
|Or a conditioned reflex that develops over time from doing a
|job where we
|are "constantly" expected to explain in simple terms exactly
|what people
|should do - whether the task be simple or complex?
|Over to you all for some thoughts.
|regards and thanks,


Without a doubt this has to be a good thing for TWs. My wife puts me in my
place for being too patronising at times. While it may be a personality
trait to some degree, I've noticed that I am doing it more at the moment -
possibly due to my current target audience being almost completely computer
illiterate. I have to explain absolutely everything in the manuals I am
writing - window controls, mouse actions etc. I was even forced to document
a step by step procedure for installing our products, and they use the
InstallShield wizard. All the clients have to do is keep clicking the
'Next' button until it changes to 'Finish', which they also have to click
(little voice in my ear: "Don't be so patronising!" :-) )

The end result? I frequently get called anal by some of the development
staff, but the help desk staff are so full of praise it can be embarrassing.
The call rate has dropped dramatically since my documents made it to the
clients. As a user advocate I think I'm doing a good job.


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