Re: Marketing view of documentation was Re: dispensing with documentation reviews

Subject: Re: Marketing view of documentation was Re: dispensing with documentation reviews
From: David Neeley <dbneeley -at- oddpost -dot- com>
To: "TECHWR-L" <techwr-l -at- lists -dot- raycomm -dot- com>
Date: Tue, 1 Jun 2004 19:01:41 -0700 (PDT)


It shouldn't be against any of your professional pride or discipline to do the same thing the developers do with a new prototype...label the docs as "preliminary" or "alpha" or whatever to indicate it is not the finished product.

If you're still writing the finished doc, you should have a good handle on the design templates. Thus, whatever you have should *look* fairly good, right?

You may want to use a "watermark" on the pages to indicate the document is "preliminary" and a suitable disclaimer up front...and, in fact, you may well include contact info for collecting errata. That, properly handled, may give the users of this "test release" a feeling of ownership--and you may also get useful feedback in the process.

Where you do not yet have particular features detailed, I suggest you indicate that you know the material is missing, too. If yours is a somewhat typical development case, there is "feature creep" up to the last minute--then folks are screaming at the tech pubs department that *they* are delaying shipment of the finished product. Surely there are ways in which you can indicate that a feature is not yet stabilized enough for finished documentation?


-----Original Message from Ned Bedinger <doc -at- edwordsmith -dot- com>-----

I committed a howler recently when I characterized the "marketing
view of documentation", and thanks to a poignant inquiry sent to
me off-line, I have purged any errant pejorative sense of
"marketing" from my vocabulary, and now retract anything that I
implied was attributable to the term "marketing" or the field of
Marketing in general. By way of explanation, I'd like to say
that the project I was describing, where I worked under the
"Marketing" department, was my sole project experience with a
marketing organization, and under the circumstances and in
retrospect, was probably far from normal. I am grateful for the
clarification in email about Marketing as a business function.
So, please let me clarify what I was trying to say; the message
has change little but the unintended insult to marketers has been

"Marketing" was the name of the internal group that wanted
incomplete documentation releases with all of the bows and
ribbons, like a finished product. Ann Pai may find this
interesting because that Marketing department was an example of a
group that had the power to drive the documentation requirements,
and used it in a way that ran counter to my professional values.
To them, the documentation, whether complete or not, would
fulfill their commitment to providing documentation along with a
test release of the software. If I had not understood the
special requirement for delivery of a good looking but incomplete
doc set PDQ, it would have seemed that Marketing had arrogated a
large portion of the tech writers' professional role, humiliating
us and our best efforts by shipping out a "pig with lipstick."

I didn't mean to extrapolate and attribute those situational
ethics to the ethics of the entire professional field of

Sorry if anyone else was insulted by my apparent slight of
marketers. I hope my meaning is clearer now.

Ned Bedinger
Ed Wordsmith Technical Communications Co.
doc -at- edwordsmith -dot- com
tel: 360-434-7197
fax: 360-769-7059

----- Original Message -----
From: "Ned Bedinger" <doc -at- edwordsmith -dot- com>
To: "TECHWR-L" <techwr-l -at- lists -dot- raycomm -dot- com>
Sent: Saturday, May 29, 2004 1:40 PM
Subject: Re: dispensing with documentation reviews


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Marketing view of documentation was Re: dispensing with documentation reviews: From: Ned Bedinger

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