Re: Fear and Loathing at the Job Site

Subject: Re: Fear and Loathing at the Job Site
From: Andrew Plato <gilliankitty -at- yahoo -dot- com>
To: "TECHWR-L" <techwr-l -at- lists -dot- raycomm -dot- com>
Date: Thu, 8 May 2003 07:06:25 -0700 (PDT)

"Bruce Byfield" <bbyfield -at- axionet -dot- com> wrote in message news:197264 -at- techwr-l -dot- -dot- -dot-

> I can't help feeling that there is more gross incompetence among
> tech-writers than in other fields. Why, I'm not sure. Just because I
> know the field fairly well? Or because, like many writers, I tend to
> think that I can do better than other writers? Or maybe the fact that
> there is no qualification for someone to work as a tech-writer genuinely
> means that the standards are low. I tend to think that my sense isn't
> pure subjectivity because, after all, the general opinion of
> tech-writers is fairly low.

Incompetence is an equal opportunity employer. Every profession has

I see plenty of incompetence in the security and networking profession. There
are a lot of self-proclaimed security gurus who make all kinds of rediculous
claims and dire predictions. Most confuse their personal obsessions (ie Windows
is evil, Linux is perfect) with actual facts and realities. Others just try to
apply a shread of skill to massive problems, with mixed success.

In tech writing, incompetence seems to be centered around the common topics I
rant and rave about: 1) lack of tech skills 2) font-fondlism 3) misguided
priorities 4) obsession with the trivial.

The biggest problem in the tech writing profession is that a large chunk of the
profession honestly believes they can remain totally content-ignorant and be
accomplished and effective technical communicators. And these folks preach this
BS to other writers, who fall lock-step inline with this stupidity. Basically,
these people are ignorant and they don't want to work hard to learn anything
new. But they need to justify their jobs (and salaries) so, rather than learn
the technology (which is hard to do) they try to convince people that knowing
the technology isn't their job.

The only good thing is that when a place gets a taste of a skilled,
content-knowledgable writer, they never want to go back. This is why many
places are starting to demand content-knowledge in their tech writers. They've
seen that writers can actually offer more, and SHOULD offer more than

Andrew Plato

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