RE: Stereotyping software writers (WAS Re(4): Slow Tech Writers)

Subject: RE: Stereotyping software writers (WAS Re(4): Slow Tech Writers)
From: jgarison -at- ide -dot- com
To: "TECHWR-L" <techwr-l -at- lists -dot- raycomm -dot- com>
Date: Thu, 11 Jul 2002 11:15:35 -0400

You tell 'em, Connie!

I work in software, have for 28 years ... and we do it clearly, concisely,
correctly, and FAST. We do four releases a year for an extremely complex
business application that becomes a core business product in our client's
companies. We HAVE to be right.

Just last week, one of the VPs was gently chiding me for being TOO correct
when something about our application was documented precisely when he wanted
it a little vaguer. No dice.

And we get the occasional compliment from our support people and customers
about the quality and content of what we develop.

We have deadlines like you wouldn't believe - 4 releases a year. We have
NEVER been late, and IIRC, we have had only a handful of very minor
documentation errors, virtually all of which we caught - and corrected -
before any customer noticed.

So ... take your generalizations about software writing somewhere else ...
it doesn't hold up.


John Garison
Documentation Manager
IDe, Concord, MA
jgarison -at- ide -dot- com

-----Original Message-----
From: Giordano, Connie [mailto:Connie -dot- Giordano -at- FMR -dot- COM]
Sent: Thursday, July 11, 2002 11:04 AM
Subject: Stereotyping software writers (WAS Re(4): Slow Tech Writers)


Software writing DOES NOT AUTOMATICALLY EQUATE with inferior writing, and
all software writers do not show the disregard for accuracy and quality that
you have apparently experienced. MANY software products in MANY industries
require getting it right.

The assumption that because I write for a software company must mean that I
lack integrity, quality or professionalism offends me, and probably many
others on this list.

Slow or fast is irrelevant in the final analysis. Getting it right and
having it make sense are the things that matter--whether in software,
hardware, heavy industry, finance, or any other industry. Slow or fast may
determine your eventual employment standing though, and the realities of any
marketplace determine what constitutes fast or slow and whether you measure

Arguing semantics of slow vs. careful and stereotyping a huge segment of the
list is also "pole vaulting over a mouse" (a truly wonderful description
BTW!). You've ignored one of the main mantras of this business "know thy
audience". You simply don't know this one well enough to make these kind of


Connie P. Giordano
Senior Technical Writer
Advisor Technology Services
A Fidelity Investments Company
704-330-2069 (w)
704-330-2350 (f)
704-957-8450 (c)
connie -dot- giordano -at- fmr -dot- com <mailto:connie -dot- giordano -at- fmr -dot- com>

"I am always doing that which I can not do, in order that I may learn how to
do it." - Pablo Picasso

-----Original Message-----
From: letoured -at- together -dot- net [mailto:letoured -at- together -dot- net]
Sent: Wednesday, July 10, 2002 9:04 PM
Subject: Re: Re(4): Slow Tech Writers

In <20020710165447 -dot- 22943 -at- post -dot- strato -dot- de>, on 07/10/02
at 06:54 PM, Jan Henning <henning -at- r-l -dot- de> said:

>Dear letoured

>>>There are slower writers and faster writers. A slower writer going slow
>>>most likely slower than a faster writer going slow, so the distinction
>>>applies to your 'slow, methodical' projects.
>>Nonsense. -- It doesn't matter how long someone takes. What matters is the
>>accuracy, the rework that is avoided, and how well it works for the

>Sorry to have to disagree, but it matters how long it takes to write
>documentation. Even where the quality is very important, there is an amount
>of time, large though it may be, that is longer acceptable.

Disagree all you want. You are in the software writing business. They are
market driven. Other industries have quality, integrity, and professional

Furthermore, I didn't say the time didn't matter I said it takes longer to
it right -- and its required and placed higher on the scale of what is
important. If you followed my other posts you have seen that the customers
expect and demand it to be right too.

>>>Also note that "slow" and "methodical" aren't synonymous. [...]
>>They are not synonymous in your view because of what?

>Are you seriously asking that? You might find the answer in a dictionary,
>here is how I understand the terms:

>- Slow: Taking a long time to do something

How about if "slow" means it takes a long time to do it right -- does that
change the picture or the word for you?

>- Methodical: Rigorously following a method in doing something

>It follows that there may be slow, unmethodical work as well as fast,
>methodical work.

And your point is what? Not everyone is as market driven and working on
things as uncomplicated as software user manuals.

>>Are you equaling slow
>>with lazy or bad or what? I never said anything resembling that. Slow can
>>also mean requiring a long time. Check your dictionary.

>I'm wasn't equating slow with anything besides than "taking a long time".
>particular, I pointed out that slow cannot be equated with methodical.

Actually, you're pole vaulting over a mouse.

>>>Finally, it is a cliché to assume that slower writers make fewer
>errors. This
>>>is certainly not what I have experienced. (If anything, I would say that
>>>faster writers tend to have a better grasp of the subject matter, but I
>>>see a hard correlation between the two.)
>>Really? Maybe you aren't very experienced, or have not worked with
>>experienced writers.

>I did not talk about what I _didn't_ experience but about what I _did_
>experience. So your personal attack is not only bad style and uncalled for,
>it is also illogical in the context.

Its not illogical at all. If you had ever worked on projects that had to be
done right, you would understand.

>>What you people seem to be doing is equating "slow" with a slow writer and
>>making that a bad writer. -- I never said that. Equate slow with
>careful, and
>>you might see the difference.

>I don't do htat. I merely pointed out that it is wrong to automatically
>equate slow with careful as you seem to have done. If you did not mean to
>so, there does not seem to be an argument.

You're pole vaulting over a mouse. Slow is careful in some industries. You
others here don't seem to be interested in getting that.

letoured -at- together -dot- net

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