TechWhirl (TECHWR-L) is a resource for technical writing and technical communications professionals of all experience levels and in all industries to share their experiences and acquire information.
For two decades, technical communicators have turned to TechWhirl to ask and answer questions about the always-changing world of technical communications, such as tools, skills, career paths, methodologies, and emerging industries. The TechWhirl Archives and magazine, created for, by and about technical writers, offer a wealth of knowledge to everyone with an interest in any aspect of technical communications.
Subject:Re: Starting over (long) From:Michelle Corbin <corbinm -at- us -dot- ibm -dot- com> To:"List,Techwriter" <techwr-l -at- lists -dot- techwr-l -dot- com> Date:Mon, 23 Jan 2006 14:14:03 -0500
> > Technical editors are often the "first user" of
> > information, reviewing and editing the material while
> > following and testing the procedures whenever
> > it is possible to do so (some of the products that I work on
> > require such enormous set up that it is not always feasible
> > to test/follow all procedures, but I do try).
> I'm not so sure that an editor would have been able to do much in my
> situation. This is because much of what is documented requires a
> considerable amount of setup. That's the whole reason why this
> deletion of the envoronment was so upsetting. For instance...to get
> to the functionality of creating custom content, you first have to
> create and setup a client. Then in that client, you have to set up an
> employee. What took me three lines to describe takes over 50 pages of
> documentation. It was at this level that I discovered my "errors".
Well, you might be right -- the setup might have been extensive/exhaustive
and the technical editor might not have had access to be able to do as I
described. However, if you had a technical editor on the team and she had
access to the same equipment and same setup that you did in order to learn
and write the information in the first place, then it might very well have
been feasible for her to do a full technical edit on the information.
For the project that I am working on right now, they have been installing
the product on a common server for all of us to access and use. In some
of the cases, I have had to set up users, accounts, approvals,
notifications, etc -- all to be able to access and complete a specific
task. However, in working with the developers and testers of the product,
I was able to be more aware of the product nuances.
I'm not suggesting that technical editors are full-fledged testers of the
accuracy of the information, but I am suggesting that they should know the
environment, know the complexity that the user faces, and be able to
suggest places where there might be missing or extraneous information. For
some of the tasks on my current project, I just could not get the system
configured to be able to do the task. I instead called the tester and
talkedo him for half an hour to confirm my understanding of the user
scenario and situation in which the task would be performed. Then, I made
my comments on the concepts and tasks that were supporting that user task.
Technical editors do much more than just copy edit or grammar check
information -- they really do engage in the content and ensure that the
user gets what they need from the information. I think I was just
suggesting that the task that you performed -- your "fresh mind" review
and check of the information -- is similar to what a technical editor
might have been able to do for you if you had them on your team and they
could assist and see where some of the gaps might have been.
Sorry. I guess my soapbox got underneath of me again. :)
Now Shipping -- WebWorks ePublisher Pro for Word! Easily create online
Help. And online anything else. Redesigned interface with a new
project-based workflow. Try it today! http://www.webworks.com/techwr-l