RE: Fear and Loathing at the Job Site

Subject: RE: Fear and Loathing at the Job Site
From: "Kat Nagel, MasterWork Consulting" <mlists -at- masterworkconsulting -dot- com>
To: "TECHWR-L" <techwr-l -at- lists -dot- raycomm -dot- com>
Date: Thu, 8 May 2003 13:29:03 -0400

Dan Goldstein wrote:
>Of course, it's _possible_ for a tech writer to kill someone with

Rick Lippincott replied:
It's more than possible. It's happened. Off the top of my head, I can think
of at least a half-dozen fatal aircraft crashes that have been attributed to
faults in the documentation.
[details deleted to satisfy the linecounter bot]

I ran into a more mundane (and less immediately fatal) example with my first car. I took it to a garage to have the snow tires put on one autumn day. When I picked the car up, everything looked fine although the ride was a bit rougher than I expected. (Remember, this was my FIRST car.) Several blocks later, the right rear wheel fell off.

When I limped back to the garage to complain, the mechanic said it wasn't his fault because he had done everything the way it said in the repair manual for that model. His boss grabbed the manual and quizzed him on each step. Sure enough, the mechanic HAD done everything the manual specified---correct tools, correct steps in the correct order. Everything from soup The manual clearly explained how to choose the correct type and size nut for the bolts that hold the wheel on the axle. It even had a pretty picture showing the correct nut being put on the end of the bolt. Unfortunately, it neglected to mention that it was necessary to *tighten* the nuts. Oopsie.

Wish I had thought to grab a copy of that repair manual while I had the chance. It would have made a great example of the need for usability testing for technical documentation.

Kat Nagel
Owner, MasterWork Consulting Services
Phone: (585) 820-4045 Fax: (585) 244-3565
Business: katnagel -at- masterworkconsulting -dot- com
Personal: katnagel -at- bluefrognet -dot- net


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RE: Fear and Loathing at the Job Site: From: Richard Lippincott

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