RE: Friday Poll Idea (WAS: In love with a word)

Subject: RE: Friday Poll Idea (WAS: In love with a word)
From: "Nuckols, Kenneth M" <Kenneth -dot- Nuckols -at- mybrighthouse -dot- com>
To: "TECHWR-L" <techwr-l -at- lists -dot- techwr-l -dot- com>
Date: Mon, 9 Jan 2006 10:44:04 -0500

Geoff Lane wrote...

> On Monday, January 9, 2006, Bryan Sherman wrote;
> > Coming from a training background, I had it beat into my head to
> > setup a topic by saying it is easy. It can cause your audience to
> > pay attention (if it's easy, no need to pay close attention) or add
> > the frustration if they don't get it right away. On top of all that,
> > there are a number of things in life that seem easy to some, and
> > difficult for others...
> ---
> However, when writing for an audience of mixed abilities, it is often
> good practice to tell your readers how difficult a procedure is. FWIW,
> I've done this with "spanner ratings" (the more spanners, the more
> difficult) and with introductory text. Doing this helps readers
> determine quickly whether specialist experience or resources are
> required, and so whether to attempt the job themselves or call in
> specialist help.
> --
> Geoff

I'm going to disagree with Geoff on this. As TWs, our documentation
should be focused at a particular audience and we should write the
instructions accordingly. If we have to write a procedure for, let's
say, replacing the fan blades and bearings in an engine off of a Boeing
747 for an audience of holiday travelers, we should simply write the
procedure in such a way as to best allow a layperson (with the proper
tools) to complete the task.

Now, I doubt anyone would ever have to write such an extreme example of
a task poorly suited to the intended audience as I described above, but
at some point we need to presume a certain level of education or
experience for the audience and fit the tasks and procedures to that

In an example like Geoff mentioned, if the task is one of several that
would likely be reserved for technicians or "specialized" experts, then
I would lobby to put those procedures in a separate manual (or at least
an appendix) to avoid bogging the "typical" end user with procedures
that might require tools, training, and experience beyond what we could
reasonably expect them to have, as a group.

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