Re: This too is technical communication

Subject: Re: This too is technical communication
From: "Mike Starr" <mikestarr-techwr-l -at- writestarr -dot- com>
To: <techwr-l -at- lists -dot- techwr-l -dot- com>
Date: Tue, 5 Jun 2007 17:10:43 -0500

John, you're missing the point here... I want the SMEs to explain things to
me like it was *ME* who's the high-school dropout forklift driver. I do
write for the appropriate audience, not for forklift drivers, if the
appropriate audience is network administrators.

Even though I'm capable of understanding things at a much higher level, I
want the SMEs to drop their assumptions about what I know and give me the
highly simplified version of what they know so that I can then take what
they know and adapt it to the needs of the audience I'm writing for. I need
to know more about things than I'm going to put in the documentation. For
example, I may need to know why the decisions were made to structure
database tables in a certain way in order to understand how the product
manipulates those tables. I won't be putting the information about those
decisions in the documentation but having that background knowledge helps me
understand it well enough to explain the software's use of the tables where

In addition, I certainly don't give all of those analogies to every SME I
talk to... I just trot one or more of them out when I'm having trouble
understanding something myself because the SME makes assumptions about what
I need to know.

Mike Starr WriteStarr Information Services
Technical Writer - Online Help Developer - Website developer
Graphic Designer - Desktop Publisher - MS Office Expert
Phone: (262) 694-1028 - Tollfree: (877) 892-1028 - Fax:(262) 697-6334
Email: mike -at- writestarr -dot- com - Web:

----- Original Message -----
From: "John Posada" <jposada01 -at- yahoo -dot- com>
To: "Mike Starr" <mike -at- writestarr -dot- com>; <techwr-l -at- lists -dot- techwr-l -dot- com>
Sent: Tuesday, June 05, 2007 4:39 PM
Subject: Re: This too is technical communication

>> software product. It's a whole lot easier for me to tell an
>> engineer to explain something to me the same way they'd
>> explain it to a high-school dropout forklift driver (I sometimes
>> say to explain things to me like they'd...
> seems you spend a whole lot of time explaining to the SME
> what they shouldn't have a problem with your "clueless idiot"
> position.
> Wouldn't it be better to know the subject already at as high a level
> as possible, then ask the SME to give you the advanced level of
> knowledge?
> If I used that forkliftdriver analogy, their first response would be
> "Our users aren't forklift drivers...maybe you should write for our
> users, who are network administrators."
> John Posada
> Senior Technical Writer


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

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