RE: Yahoo has no staff tech writers

Subject: RE: Yahoo has no staff tech writers
From: "Sean O'Donoghue-Hayes (EAA)" <Sean.O'Donoghue-Hayes -at- ericsson -dot- com -dot- au>
To: "TECHWR-L" <techwr-l -at- lists -dot- raycomm -dot- com>
Date: Fri, 11 Oct 2002 12:00:28 +1000


Gee maybe I am an oddity or perhaps I don't value my 15 odd years in IT (not
all as a technical writer) highly enough, but whilst Jeff and Andrew don't
agree on much they do seem to agree on the fact that you need to possess a
very high level of technical expertise in the field in which you are
technical writing.

I haven't found this as being where I add value. My number one criteria -
can I comprehend what the SME is telling me and rewrite it so that it is
clear to the audience, without them ever needing to hear from the SME or
have the SME's level of knowledge.

If I can do that we all win, and having the knowledge of a SME is not going
to get me there. I am writing for the product, not building it (thought I
might suggest things). I need to explain a concept so someone else can
understand, not so they can rebuild it. I need to be able to think what
does my audience need to know, and what don't they need to know.

If you want me to build a database, I will - but I am a database designer
then, not a technical writer.....and if you already have a database designer
why the hell am I there???

Knowledge is handy, BUT, if we decided to only do the jobs that we already
know where is the challenge - where is the stretching the envelope, where is
the growth???

regards and thanks,


> The reality of technical writing is threefold:
> 1. Technical knowledge (but not necessarily technical mastery)
> 2. Tools knowledge
> 3. Writing ability

I would agree with your list. But I would insist on a certain level of

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