Re: Taking Credit

Subject: Re: Taking Credit
From: Dick Margulis <margulisd -at- comcast -dot- net>
To: "TECHWR-L" <techwr-l -at- lists -dot- techwr-l -dot- com>
Date: Mon, 28 Mar 2005 05:36:38 -0500

Beth Agnew wrote:

Maybe if we collectively stood up for our craft and
some kind of standards, we'd be able to make some changes that engender the
same respect other professionals get.

Interesting. Here's a precaffienated thought: When a professional engineer (licensed PE) signs a piece of work, that signature means something. It means the engineer has errors and omissions insurance, for one thing, because the implication of the signature is that if pieces of the building start shattering on the sidewalk, you-know-who is going to be sued and is quite possibly going to be found liable. When a medical professional signs a chart--EVERY time a medical professional signs a chart--it means a license to practice is on the line.

So if we want the respect other professionals get, we really shouldn't demand, on the one hand, that we get to take credit by signing our documents and, on the other hand, that we're really not responsible if something goes wrong. If we don't want people coming after us in court when their frammis electrocutes their goldfish, because we weren't ultimately responsible for failing to warn them not to immerse the frammis in the fishbowl, then we shouldn't be so quick to demand treatment as professionals.

On the whole name-in-the-doc thing, I've been in situations where, on internal engineering docs in a regulated industry, it was appropriate to identify the team members who contributed (on the copyright page) as well as to credit "authorship" (on the cover) to the engineer responsible for the module in question. I've also been in situations (such as outward-facing user doc) where the thought never crossed anyone's mind to associate individuals' names with the work. At the last company I worked for, user doc was anonymous; but we also generated a number of white papers; and those were signed, either by the actual author or, if ghostwritten, by the putative author. These were analysis pieces that someone (external to the company) might take issue with or offer an alternative viewpoint to; and it only seemed fair for the author (real or nominal) to stand behind the opinions expressed and be available for follow-up discussions.

Bottom line, in response to Beth's remark, the "standard" we need to uphold if we want to be treated as professionals, is the same "taking ownership" others have discussed. When your name on the work says, "I'm responsible for the contents of this document and I won't blame someone else for any errors in it," people respect you just fine.


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RE: Taking Credit: From: Beth Agnew

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