Re: observation of tech writer status

Subject: Re: observation of tech writer status
From: Andrew Plato <gilliankitty -at- yahoo -dot- com>
To: "TECHWR-L" <techwr-l -at- lists -dot- raycomm -dot- com>
Date: Thu, 31 Oct 2002 11:23:45 -0800 (PST)

I just wanted to inject that 5 years ago, this conversation would not have been
possible on TECHWR-L. We would have been yelled at by a chorus of morons who
would scream "I am a writer, not an engineer!" at even the mere suggestion that
they become competent with the technologies they're documenting.

I agree totally that there are "tool monkey" types and "technical writer" types.

Tool monkeys know tools, methods, and grammar and thats about it. And there is a
place for these people in an organization, especially larger organizations.
Somebody else does the writing and the tool monkeys just fix it up. The problem
arises when these folks start calling themselves technical writers and claiming
authorship on material they did not generate.

Technical writers (I prefer the term authors) actually generate content from
their own knowledge and research. In my mind, this is what a writer is. A person
who learns about a topic and then writes about it.

I have no disdain for tool monkeys, but I do have disdain for people who are tool
monkeys parading around like they're accomplished authors. If you didn't write
it, it ain't yours. Changing styles and implementing single-source systems don't
make you an author.

Hence, I believe this is the genesis for most of the tech comm profession's aura
of disrespect. Organizations hire writers expecting them to author documentation.
Unfortunately, these people spend all their time fondling fonts and installing
single-source systems and as such, spend minimal time learning the technologies.
The result is rotten documentation. The company rapidly loses respect for the
writers because regardless of their amazing templates and DTDs - they are
incapable of generating useful material.

So all the single-source systems and DTDs get thrown in the trash and the tech
writer is fired. The whole process begins again with another writer. After about
4 iterations, the company sees writers as a big waste of money and treats them
like dirt.

Andrew Plato

Do you Yahoo!?
HotJobs - Search new jobs daily now

Buy ComponentOne Doc-To-Help 6.0, the most powerful SINGLE SOURCE HELP
AUTHORING TOOL for MS Word. SAVE $100 on the full version and $50 on the
upgrade. Offer ends 10/31/2002 (code: DTH102250).

All-new RoboHelp X3 is now shipping! Get single sourcing, print-quality
documentation, conditional text and much more, in the most monumental
release ever. Save $100! Order online at

You are currently subscribed to techwr-l as:
archive -at- raycomm -dot- com
To unsubscribe send a blank email to leave-techwr-l-obscured -at- lists -dot- raycomm -dot- com
Send administrative questions to ejray -at- raycomm -dot- com -dot- Visit for more resources and info.

Previous by Author: Re: Know thy portfolio
Next by Author: Survey of Tech Writing Personality Types
Previous by Thread: RE: observation of tech writer status
Next by Thread: RE: observation of tech writer status

What this post helpful? Share it with friends and colleagues:

Sponsored Ads