Re: Re(2): I'm taking my marbles and going home...

Subject: Re: Re(2): I'm taking my marbles and going home...
From: "Martin R. Soderstrom" <scribbler1382 -at- yahoo -dot- com>
To: "TECHWR-L" <techwr-l -at- lists -dot- raycomm -dot- com>
Date: Tue, 13 Aug 2002 15:05:56 -0400

"Andrew Plato" <gilliankitty -at- yahoo -dot- com> wrote in message
news:165156 -at- techwr-l -dot- -dot- -dot-
> Here we go again...ignorance is a benefit.
> Martin, it is absolutely, 10000000% impossible for a human being to write
> authoritative document about a complex technology or programming language
> *some* in-depth knowledge of the topic. In many cases, a good writer must
have a
> considerably more in-depth and broader knowledge than the SME since they
> integrate these complex concepts with many other disciplines. And the only
> you can do that with ANY degree of success is if you have taken the time
to learn
> and digest the technology.

I'd agree with this if you replaced "human being" with "me" up there. Fact
of the matter is, in a perfect world of timelines in years instead of days
and endless resources, this would be true. But I don't work in fantasyland
and the sky over my desk is not rose-colored.

> Perfect example: if an engineer walks up to you and says "our software
does not
> interface with any kernel level operations." would you have the knowledge
> confirm that? So you slap it in your document and it turns out to be
> false. Now your document has a glaring inaccuracy because you didn't have
> knowledge to confirm or analyze that engineer's data. Customers read this
> laugh at it because they know its BS. They throw your product in the trash
> purchase a competitors product.

I agree...mostly. But this doesn't occur because of a lack of knowledge.
It occurs because of laziness. The one caveat I'll give you is a
proprietary shop where there are no other sources.

And where exactly is this dreamworld where engineers walk up to tech
writers, anyways? :)

> And since the writer is entirely responsible for the document, this
oversight is
> squarely the writer's fault. In this example, the writer helped the
company lose
> a sale because he lacked the ability to analyze the information handed to
him for
> accuracy and relevance. Sure, the engineer wasn't any help either. But
> doesn't excuse the writer from verifying his sources. A fundamental
> taught day one in any journalism school.

And on this one I agree 100%. Only, you probably lost more than one sale,
unless you write a different manual for every customer. And I think on day
one we just repeatedly typed "All work and no play makes Jack a dull boy".

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