Re: huh?

Subject: Re: huh?
From: "Janice Gelb" <janice -dot- gelb -at- sun -dot- com>
To: "TECHWR-L" <techwr-l -at- lists -dot- raycomm -dot- com>
Date: Thu, 8 May 2003 11:35:36 -0600

Sean Hower <hokumhome -at- freehomepage -dot- com> wrote:
> I'm asking this in all seriousness:
> -------------------------------
> Janice Gelb wrote:
> Some people even argue that in some circumstances (mostly end-user products) it's better if editors *don't* have extensive knowledge of the subject matter as they then are more likely to approach the material as a user would.
> -------------------------------
> Huh? Really? I don't get it. Could anyone who actually believes this please send me an email explaining the reasoning behind such a thing? And I'm not asking for the sardonic explanation, I really want to understand why someone would think this.

I should probably elaborate: in part of the message that
you didn't quote, I said that editors cannot be totally
ignorant of the area of knowledge that is being documented.
However, especially with end-user products, as I noted above,
some people contend that an editor who is too familiar with
the product will not catch assumptions that a writer who is
too familiar with the product has made.

For example, a writer might tell the user to verify a setting
or condition without telling the user how to do so using the
product. This verification might be something that one does
often when using the product so if the writer and editor have
been using the product regularly, they might forget to
include specific instructions. But if an editor has not
been using the product, he or she is likely to notice
that the details are missing. (There are probably better
examples but I can't think of one at the moment.)

This contention is in roughly the same spirit as the common
assertion that you cannot effectively edit your own work because
you know what you meant so you are unlikely to spot problems
that a fresh pair of eyes might see. If both the writer and
the editor are intimately familiar with the product, the
editor perhaps cannot provide that "fresh" look as effectively
as someone who is less familiar with the product.

-- Janice


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