Re: PC World RTFM

Subject: Re: PC World RTFM
From: jsokohl -at- mac -dot- com
To: "TECHWR-L" <techwr-l -at- lists -dot- raycomm -dot- com>
Date: Wed, 10 Dec 2003 07:58:40 -0700

Here's the note I sent to the comment address in the article:

Great article. A few comments, though:

The first examples are not necessarily bad technical writing, they're
examples of English written by non-native writers. Here we see one effect
of sending the tech writing tasks off shore.

You also write, "Sometimes documentation just makes me laugh. I found this
description called "Support USB 2.0 Ports" in a motherboard manual: "There
are one USB connector on the board for you to connect two USB devices and
six other ports on the back panel. Compared to traditional USB 1.0/1.1
with the speed of 12Mbps, USB 2.0 has a fancy speed of up to 480Mbps which
is 40 times faster than the traditional one."

C'mon, is it so difficult to find someone who speaks English to just give
those docs a read before they're published?"

Apparently, it is."

Actually, it isn't difficult to _find_ these people. Many highly skilled,
passionate, devoted, and creative technical communicators are
there...companies simply don't have the committment, foresight, or cojones
to _hire_ them. That's the real key. In fact, your USB example exhibits
strong evidence of geek writing, not tech writing. This doc was probably
written by an engineer under a time crunch because the project manager had
misscheduled the delivery date and the CFO had cut the budget for
technical writers because "Well, the engineers speak English and they have
copies of Microsoft Word on their computers so therefore they surely can
write the documentation."

The cross we technical communicators bear.

All the best,




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