Re: search mechanism

Subject: Re: search mechanism
From: Goober <techcommgoober -at- yahoo -dot- com>
To: "TECHWR-L" <techwr-l -at- lists -dot- raycomm -dot- com>
Date: Tue, 27 Aug 2002 22:31:36 -0700 (PDT)


> Goober, I'm sorry you're having a bad day. I asked
> the techwr-l community
> for input because I thought there would have to be
> someone out there
> providing similar functionality for their customers.

Who said I was having a bad day? You mentioned you
weren't given a lot of time to pull this together, and
I replied (essentially) that the project is probably
too vaguely defined to be completed in a tight
timeframe.

> Currently, we provide HTML, PDF, and some Word
> documents. However, we do not
> want to limit ourselves to those formats, hence the
> "etc."

Well, "etc." is a wild card that you'll need to
contend with at some point. As for HTML, PDF, and
Word, finding or building a search engine that can
spider all three formats will be kind of tricky.
Someone posted something about one possibility. Did
you catch that?

> No,
> management did not provide and will not provide a
> spec. No, they have not
> clearly communicated much of anything other than the
> fact that our customers
> want to be able to search across all docs and they
> want us to implement the
> functionality for the next release.

I'm curious... does your development team get handed
the same requirements, and if so, how do you determine
what goes into a release? This is technically a
development request you've been handed. The fact that
a tech writer is assigned to it is moot.

> I'm glad you work at a company that
> follows such formal processes. Unfortunately, I
> don't. I am trying to
> schedule a meeting with my manager to at least
> discuss the basic criteria,
> but I wanted to go ahead and get my feelers out
> regarding other people's experiences.

Oh, I've worked in some pretty chaotic environments in
the past. A dot-bomb, a few start-ups... but when
pressed for a spec, they'll deliver a spec, especially
if you make it clear that you can't assess what they
need without one.

> The problem may be implementation; it may be
> management. It doesn't really
> matter. It's something I've been tasked to work on
> and I need my job. Since
> no one in our group is even aware of the
> possibilities, any relevant information will do.

I guess that's one way of looking at it. Another way
is that you need your job, but you've been tasked with
making a very vague request into a product feature. If
you don't fully understand what they are looking for,
and you DO manage to implement something, and it turns
out to be not what they wanted, how is that any more
secure than saying "I really have no clue what it is
you're looking for. We need to hammer out the details
of what you want before I potentially waste a few
weeks of time implementing the wrong thing."

Job security shouldn't involve doing what someone else
tells you just because they say so. If you show you
add value, your job will be secure. I find that by
asking questions and pressing people for details, I
add value. Blindly following a whim does not add
value, unless you are one lucky SOB.

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