RE: TW and QA

Subject: RE: TW and QA
From: "Goldstein, Dan" <DGoldstein -at- DeusTech -dot- com>
To: "TECHWR-L" <techwr-l -at- lists -dot- techwr-l -dot- com>
Date: Wed, 20 Oct 2004 08:50:51 -0400

The article described a stunning gap in QA. A failure of the gravity
switches would (and did) lead to the total loss of the $264 million capsule.
Was there no way to test their functioning when installed according to the

When I posted this, I had no idea whether there was a writer or assembly
instructions. It did occur to me that (a) if there wasn't a writer, there
should have been, and (b) if there was a writer, part of the writer's job
was to ask, "How do I know that it works the way that I described it? What
happens if it doesn't?"

I have not yet been formally trained in QA, but as a technical writer, part
of my job is to ask those questions.

Dan Goldstein

> -----Original Message-----
> From: Gene Kim-Eng
> Sent: Tuesday, October 19, 2004 6:05 PM
> Subject: Re: TW and QA
> I don't *think* that was the original point of reposting the
> article. I suspect that the idea was that there was not a
> writer or assembly instructions and that such an error
> would not have happened if there had been. I also don't
> think that's a slam-dunk, based on past experience (in
> my case, as the test engineer who used to be responsible
> for verifying that something built to CB's manufacturing
> instructions actually worked). OTOH, the fact that there
> wasn't a role for a TW in such undertakings doesn't
> necessarily mean that there shouldn't have been...
> ----- Original Message -----
> > Lots more good stuff snipped, but you answer my
> > question about whether there was a role for a
> > Technical Writer on such massive one-off projects.
> > The answer appears to be "no".
> > There appears to have BEEN no technical writer to
> > blame for having dared to be non-technical and
> > thereby having screwed up the whole multi-hundred-million
> > dollar project.


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