RE: Tech writing makes the front page

Subject: RE: Tech writing makes the front page
From: "Robert Plamondon" <robert -at- plamondon -dot- com>
To: <techwr-l -at- lists -dot- raycomm -dot- com>
Date: Tue, 12 Aug 2003 07:32:06 -0700

>I'd LOVE to know how they came up with 129 tech writing jobs.

>Not 130, not 128.

You're confusing accuracy with precision. Just about any sampling system
will have enough precision to give a resolution of one person, and if any
scaling factors or interpolations are hiding in there, the answer can be
expressed with fractional people to as many decimal plates as you like.

None of this has anything to do with the accuracy of the sample, which may
be +/-1, +/-100, or uncontrolled and essentially meaningless.

From the point of view of presentation, giving fractional employees is
irritating to the reader and implies a macabre physical basis, so reporting
employment in integers is probably the right thing to do. Additional
rounding is questionable, since you don't want people messing with the
numbers to make them prettier -- it adds additional error, and possibly
additional bias as well. Printing error terms (such as +/-6 people) in a
separate column in the main report has some value, but you wouldn't expect
these figures to make it into press releases.

-- Robert
Robert Plamondon
President, High-Tech Technical Writing
robert -at- plamondon -dot- com
(541) 453-5841
"We're Looking for a Few Good Clients"


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