Re: who is responsible

Subject: Re: who is responsible
From: Jan Henning <henning -at- r-l -dot- de>
To: "TECHWR-L" <techwr-l -at- lists -dot- raycomm -dot- com>
Date: Mon, 7 Apr 2003 17:02:31 +0200

The buck stops with me.

That's an attitude I wholeheartedly share. But the responsibility thing has been taken over the top in some of the recent postings: The writer is always resposible for everything that goes wrong with the documentation, no matter what? Please!

For example, if a customer makes a decision that results in bad documentation ("We don't need an index for this 2000-page manual." "We do not need to describe these safety-related features.") and sticks to it despite intensive counseling, obviously the customer is to blame and not the writer.

The same goes if management makes similarly brain-damaged decisions and cannot be persuaded otherwise. To argue, as some on this list have done, that the writer should go behind management's back in this case ("by hook or by crook") doesn't hold up to closer reflection: Depending on the circumstances, this can be a firable offence. (Plus one of the people on this list who made this argument previously argued that he who pays the money - i.e., the manager - calls the tune. Am I the only one who detects a certain contradiction here?)

In short, yes of course a writer is responsible for the documentation, but there is a limit. In particular, the devision of responsibility on which a modern company is based means that there are circumstances beyond the writers control for the detrimental effects of which he or she consequently cannot reasonably be held responsible. As usual, here too tough-sounding blanket statements are of little value for the real world - it is all a matter of degree.

Jan Henning

Jan Henning
Am Schlossberg 14, D-82547 Eurasburg, Germany

Phone: +49 700 0200 0700, Fax: +49 8179 9307-12
E-Mail: henning -at- r-l -dot- de, Web:

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RE: who is responsible: From: Paul Hanson

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