RE: know your ... who?

Subject: RE: know your ... who?
From: "Lauren" <lauren -at- writeco -dot- net>
To: "'McLauchlan, Kevin'" <Kevin -dot- McLauchlan -at- safenet-inc -dot- com>, <techwr-l -at- lists -dot- techwr-l -dot- com>
Date: Tue, 19 Feb 2008 13:02:06 -0800

> From: McLauchlan, Kevin

> Whenever people (on this list and elsewhere) earnestly utter
> "know your
> readers/users", I have to chuckle.


> How do you writerly folk, who work for companies that make esoteric,
> tens-of-thousands-of-dollars-per-unit products for technical users who
> live on the other side of the world, ever manage to become intimately
> acquainted with those users and their documentation needs?

I thought that one of the cardinal rules of *any* writing is to know one's
audience. "Knowledge" doesn't imply intimate knowledge, such as a
person-to-person meeting or becoming "intimately acquainted" with users. It
is knowledge of the user of the document as in knowing the user's skill
level, the user's purpose for having the document, and the user's general
language skill. Additionally, "audience" (or "readers" or "users") does not
imply a specific person or specific group of persons, but "audience" is a
general class of person that the writer should know.

For example, a document prepared for recent high school graduates should be
written for that audience, so the writer should know how to write for high
school graduates. Such documentation should not contain complex terms that
require a college education to understand. A writer doesn't need to meet
every high school graduate that uses the document to know how to write for a
high school graduate. So I really don't understand the issue here. Writers
must know the audience of their documents.

Perhaps audience knowledge is one of the factors that encourages hiring
writers with a developer background in the technology being documented.
Those people have a better knowledge of the audience than somebody who does
not have that background.



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know your ... who?: From: McLauchlan, Kevin

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