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I am a veteran of one gory, painful experiment in which my corporate
masters decided to hire a bevy of SMEs (system engineers in this case)
with zero writing experience or aptitude. The editors on the team would
teach these unfortunate engineers to write and everyone would merrily
skip toward the deadlines.
What do you think happened next? Yep, pretty much...
One or two of the SMEs turned into darn good writers -- and fled back to
engineering jobs immediately after this assignment. Most of the SMEs
emerged bloody and unrepentant as engineers and nothing but engineers,
having affirmed the wisdom of their original career choice. The editors,
however, barely survived the experience. And the users of the resulting
documentation -- I won't name the Microsoft product or version -- have
been complaining ever since. As well they should.
This is not to say that writers and editors shouldn't be as technically
astute as possible. A good technical editor doesn't have to BE a naive
user to advocate for the needs of naive users. That is just silly. And
if a writer is a naive user -- well, gawd help the poor end user who has
to use that doc. (Been there, done that, too...)
Senior Technical Writer
voice (425) 774-8717
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