RE: This too is technical communication

Subject: RE: This too is technical communication
From: "Lauren" <lt34 -at- csus -dot- edu>
To: "'Stuart Burnfield'" <slb -at- westnet -dot- com -dot- au>, <techwr-l -at- lists -dot- techwr-l -dot- com>
Date: Tue, 5 Jun 2007 12:02:21 -0700

> -----Original Message-----
> From: techwr-l-bounces+lt34=csus -dot- edu -at- lists -dot- techwr-l -dot- com
> [mailto:techwr-l-bounces+lt34=csus -dot- edu -at- lists -dot- techwr-l -dot- com] On
> Behalf Of Stuart Burnfield
> Sent: Monday, June 04, 2007 8:41 PM
> To: techwr-l -at- lists -dot- techwr-l -dot- com
> Subject: Re: This too is technical communication
> Mike Starr said:
> > I've often opined that one of my principal duties as a
> > technical writer is to be a "professional clueless idiot".
> I think this is a dangerous and unnecessary strategy.
> If you're pretending to be a clueless idiot, it's hard to avoid
> overwriting and overexplaining. You'll be tailoring the docs to make
> them more usable by a handful of users, at the expense of the
> overwhelming majority of users. (I'm assuming you haven't identified
> clueless idiots as a significant segment of your target audience :^)

I like Mike's description. Think about this way. If you interview your
SMEs from your own understanding of the technology, which is higher than
that of an average user, then you run the risk of having only enough
information to satisfy the needs of an above average user. If you interview
the SMEs as though you are a clueless idiot, then you have plenty of
information (fodder) to sort through and build an audience appropriate

We are not writing when we interview SMEs and gather information. Writing
comes after we have all of our information, so there is no risk of writing
too much by taking the position of a "clueless idiot." Whoever says, "I
can't write this document because I have too much information"? Problems
with writing come from not having enough information. The one who will have
enough information is the one that doesn't take any knowledge of the system
for granted. So that would be a "clueless idiot."



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Re: This too is technical communication: From: Stuart Burnfield

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