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: Wed, 6 Jun 2007 03:59:40 -0500

Just to clarify here (since I'm the one who started this "clueless idiot"
portion of the thread)...

I never PLAY dumb but I may ask an SME to explain things to me as if I'm
completely ignorant of the underlying technology.

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: "Stuart Burnfield" <slb -at- westnet -dot- com -dot- au>
To: <techwr-l -at- lists -dot- techwr-l -dot- com>
Sent: Wednesday, June 06, 2007 3:19 AM
Subject: RE: This too is technical communication

> Lauren said:
>> I don't understand why people keep confusing the process with the
>> product. The process makes sense. Play dumb and get as much
>> information as necessary. The product, a document, obviously, will
>> not have all of that information, but it can be much more clear
>> compared to a product that has limited information because the
>> writer will have enough information to complete a cogent document.
> I don't understand where playing dumb comes into it. I know some things
> about the product and the users, I don't know others. I ask questions to
> find out the things that I need to know but don't.
> Before I interview an engineer or SME I do as much research as I can so
> that I can ask intelligent questions and understand the answers. I want
> the SMEs to feel that I respect their time so much that I won't waste it
> by asking unnecessary questions.
>> I am really confused as to why people keep saying that the
>> documentation written from information gathered by somebody taking
>> the stance of a clueless idiot will only apply to clueless idiots.
>> The product is not the process. Of course, documentation will not
>> be written for clueless idiots, but the stance of the writer in the
>> information gathering process can be that of a clueless idiot. How
>> did people get so lost and confuse the product with the process?
> The SME has a lot of information. Some of it I already know, some I need
> to know, some I don't need directly but may be useful as background. I
> need to use my TW skills to pass the useful info on to the readers in a
> clear and accessible format. No-one in this transaction is an idiot or a
> forklift driver--not the SME, not me, not the users.
> If the SME mentions RS485 connectors and it seems to be important, I'm
> not shy about asking what an RS485 connector is. I'm not asking because
> I'm playing dumb or because I feel dumb, I asking because it's something
> I need to know so that I can do my job.
> You say "the stance of the writer in the information gathering process
> can be that of a clueless idiot" but I don't see where this would be
> better than just taking the stance of a busy TW asking questions of a
> busy SME.
> Stuart


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: Stuart Burnfield

Previous by Author: Re: This too is technical communication
Next by Author: Re: This too is technical communication
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