Re: Have to know Programming to be able to write about it? -- NO

Subject: Re: Have to know Programming to be able to write about it? -- NO
From: "Mike O." <obie1121 -at- yahoo -dot- com>
To: "TECHWR-L" <techwr-l -at- lists -dot- raycomm -dot- com>
Date: Wed, 26 Feb 2003 08:09:22 -0800 (PST)


Andrew wrote:
> a writer without programming knowledge is going to be less
> competent to write about programming than one who is also
> a programmer.

You are comparing "a writer without programming knowledge" to
"one who is also a programmer." This is not a useful comparison
for several reasons. One reason is that programmers tend to work
in programming jobs, not tech writing jobs. Very few employers
are going to pay a qualified programmer to do tech writing, even
if the programmer is willing. Your comparison sounds compelling
at first, but rarely happens in real life.

A more useful comparison would be to compare "a writer without
programming knowledge" to "a writer with programming knowledge."


There are lots of career tech writers who are NOT qualified or
interested to be programmers but who have proved themselves to
be 110% knowledgable and qualified to write original content for
software development. Unfortunately most employers don't
understand how to conduct the proper recruitment and interviews
needed to locate these people within the general tech writer
labor pool.

Look, if you are in the IT tech writing business you need to
have some programming knowledge. But I don't think you need to
be "also a programmer." If you have a strong technical aptitude
and a true desire to succeed, all you really need are a few
Programming 101-type courses somewhere in your background - just
enough to learn the common techniques used in all programming
languages. Everything else is better learned on the job or
self-taught. In my opinion, after a certain point you should
become confident that you can read and understand most
human-readable programming languages and techniques.

It also helps if you temped your way through college in a
variety of clerical jobs; that way you are exposed to a lot of
business IT systems from the user's POV, in a way that the CS
majors never have the opportunity to experience.





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