RE: This too is technical communication

Subject: RE: This too is technical communication
From: "Lauren" <lt34 -at- csus -dot- edu>
To: "'John Posada'" <jposada01 -at- yahoo -dot- com>, <techwr-l -at- lists -dot- techwr-l -dot- com>
Date: Tue, 5 Jun 2007 14:26:03 -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 John Posada
> Sent: Tuesday, June 05, 2007 1:18 PM
> To: techwr-l -at- lists -dot- techwr-l -dot- com
> Subject: RE: This too is technical communication
> > the system for granted. So that would be a "clueless idiot."
> I reject this whole "clueless idiot" position.

The "clueless idiot" is one person's method. It is not the rule we all must

> Being a professional technical writer means you have the skill to
> write your document as best as you know how. It has nothing to do
> with writing a document because you know too much, not enough or just
> the right amount.

We, as technical writers, don't write what *we* know. We write about a
system, product, or process. We do need a method to collect information to
produce documentation. Taking the position of a "clueless idiot" while
collecting required information is one method. This has nothing to do with
skill or knowledge. It is just one way to get required information to
document. I like the approach.

> It also means that you know how to get the right information from the
> subject matter experts. The amount of information you already know
> has nothing to do it. The skill is an interviewing skill, not whether
> you are clueless or not.

"How to get the right information" is a skill that all technical writers
must possess, calling it "being a clueless idiot" is a very descriptive
name. Who would consider collecting information from the position that "I
know all about this system so I will only collect information that I do not

Even when we do know all of the shortcuts and can dive into an application
and go to work, we still need to document the application according to the
path that the user will take. So we get information that we personally do
not need. To be vague and say that a technical writer "knows how" really
doesn't say much. Describe "how." One person chooses to be a clueless

An interviewing skill is still accompanied by the approach that interviewer
takes. A lawyer will interview a person to get the person to say what the
lawyer wants to hear. A police interrogator will interview a person to get
facts about evidence and culpability. A clueless idiot will interview a
person to learn everything about a particular subject. A vague
"interviewing skill" is really not descriptive of the actual process of

> Any stance that maintains that the correct technical level of the
> document is achieved because of any factor other than knowing how to
> is absurd.

A stance of "knowing how to" is vague. How is that not absurd? Describe
the concept "knowing how to." Technical writers are not documentation
genies. There really is an explainable process other than saying, "it just
happens because I know how to..."

> John Posada
> Senior Technical Writer



Create HTML or Microsoft Word content and convert to Help file formats or
printed documentation. Features include support for Windows Vista & 2007
Microsoft Office, team authoring, plus more.

True single source, conditional content, PDF export, modular help.
Help & Manual is the most powerful authoring tool for technical
documentation. Boost your productivity!

You are currently subscribed to TECHWR-L as archive -at- web -dot- techwr-l -dot- com -dot-

To unsubscribe send a blank email to
techwr-l-unsubscribe -at- lists -dot- techwr-l -dot- com
or visit

To subscribe, send a blank email to techwr-l-join -at- lists -dot- techwr-l -dot- com

Send administrative questions to admin -at- techwr-l -dot- com -dot- Visit for more resources and info.


RE: This too is technical communication: From: John Posada

Previous by Author: RE: This too is technical communication
Next by Author: RE: Stupendously learned user
Previous by Thread: Re: This too is technical communication
Next by Thread: RE: This too is technical communication

What this post helpful? Share it with friends and colleagues:

Sponsored Ads