Re: Yahoo has no staff tech writers

Subject: Re: Yahoo has no staff tech writers
From: Andrew Plato <gilliankitty -at- yahoo -dot- com>
To: "TECHWR-L" <techwr-l -at- lists -dot- raycomm -dot- com>
Date: Wed, 9 Oct 2002 05:51:36 -0700 (PDT)

"Chuck Martin" <twriter -at- sonic -dot- net> wrote ...
> I was just told this interesting piece of information today, and I think it
> quite remarkable if true. I was at this small job fair in downtown San
> Francisco this morning (are there any job fairs in this economy that aren't
> small?) where Yahoo! had a booth. I asked if they hire tech writers to work
> on their extensive help/user assistance system and was told no, they have no
> tech writers of staff. The person said that they either hire contractors
> when they need some writing done or they just have engineers write content.

> The attitude I perceived from this person is that the writing part of
> technical communication can easily be done by people brought in at the last
> minute to create content, with no history and understanding of the product's
> design and no clue as to users' needs. More often than not, the role that
> this person plays is that of clean up, writing content to compensate for
> programmers or marketing people designing things.

The basic reason places like Yahoo do this are simply practical:

1. Most technical writers are incapable of understanding the technologies being
used. Therefore it is cheaper and easier to have engineering staff produce the
content and hire low-priced editors to merely clean up the mess.

2. Most web sites move and change so quickly in response to market conditions,
documenting stuff is often a waste of time.

A lot of places, Chuck, are having a hard time justifying writers when the grand
majority of writers in the market place are not capable of producing valuable
content. They are so obsessed with "shaping information" and other touchy feely
crap, that they can't produce valuable, insightful material.

Moreover, I want to remind everybody here that Yahoo is one of the most widely
used, popular web sites in the world and it is marginally profitable. So while
they may have crappy help, it is obviously not hurting their business.

Andrew Plato

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