Re: Just can't help myself

Subject: Re: Just can't help myself
From: Peter Neilson <neilson -at- alltel -dot- net>
To: "TECHWR-L" <techwr-l -at- lists -dot- techwr-l -dot- com>
Date: Thu, 28 Apr 2005 12:47:02 -0400

eric -dot- dunn -at- ca -dot- transport -dot- bombardier -dot- com wrote:

Personally, I'd say that the minimum is:
1 - Language aptitude (passing grade in college or University level language course)
2 - Computer aptitude (demonstrated knowledge of representative computer equipment and tools)
3 - Domain/industry knowledge (degree, certificate, training, and/or related experience in related domain/industry)

I know at least two people who are competent if not excellent tech
writers and do not meet criterion #1. One of them attended Phillips
Exeter when it was a boys' school, with no girls within a million
miles. With no distractions, he applied himself to the Classics
(he's the published translator of some obscure ancient Greek poetry)
and to Debate. If you do Debate, you've gotta know your history!
He never went to college, but if you didn't check his credentials,
you wouldn't know. He's not a tech writer, really, either, but his
tech writing is just fine. Oh, and he eventually DID go to college,
but as a lecturer, not a student. (I don't know how he got away with

In areas where there is genuine certification, the papyrus can be the
opposite of a guarantee of quality. Granted, a CQE likely really
knows his quality, and a civil engineer whose bridges collapse is
in deep trouble. But a certified teacher can be horridly educated
in the subject to be taught, and get away with it for an entire career.

I think certification is mostly tossing a bone to the HR department,
so they can say, "Don't blame us if your tech writer's no good. We
sent you the one with certs, and tossed out the rest." I've already
met enough HR types who have no idea how to judge good writing, but
who are in charge of whether or not I get to talk to someone who can.


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Re: Just can't help myself: From: eric . dunn

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