Re: TECHWR-L Digest, Vol 28, Issue 22

Subject: Re: TECHWR-L Digest, Vol 28, Issue 22
From: "Suzette Leeming" <suzette -dot- leeming -at- gmail -dot- com>
To: techwr-l -at- lists -dot- techwr-l -dot- com
Date: Mon, 25 Feb 2008 14:04:21 -0500

Could I please make a request of digest members, to rename the subject line
when responding to a message in the digest? It would be for your own benefit
as well, if you want people to read your response (and why else would we
post?). I have gotten into the habit of deleting all messages that are of no
interest to me without even opening them. I also delete all meesages with
subject lines like "Re: TECHWR-L Digest, Vol 28, Issue 22". I opened this
one by mistake, and fortunately it was a thread that I was following.

If you think your response is worthy of being posted, please give it a
proper subject line, so others will know what it's about.

Suzette Leeming
Stouffville, Ontario

On 2/25/08, Borowik, Kristy <Kristy_Borowik -at- lcca -dot- com> wrote:
> I've been a technical writer for only one company, and more often than
> not, I learn the system and write my instructions from scratch, from how
> I see that the software works. I'm not always right in how a user should
> do something or how managers would want our users (Note: All of our
> software is for internal use) to use a particular feature. So I always
> have a SME check my draft when I'm done. If necessary, I'll have another
> writer double-check my work by following along in the system and make
> sure that my words are understandable and accurate. It's not unheard of
> that a process would work one way when I write it and then another later
> after they change the software, so double-checking just before release
> is a must.
> There are rare instances when I am not allowed access to certain
> software, such as our payroll system, and so I do have to rely on the
> programmers and the SME for accurate instructions. Usually I find steps
> that are completely unintelligible and I'll have to meet with the SME to
> have her show me the process on her computer. Only then could I ever
> understand what she meant to say. I just don't understand how people can
> write and feel confident in their documents if they can't check the
> accuracy themselves. Programmers don't always use the right words, and
> they rarely use the exact terms (field names, etc.) as shown on screen.
> And who gets all the screen shots for the document if not the writer? In
> my company, programmers get paid more than writers, so it only makes
> sense that the programmer not be bothered with getting screen shots so
> they can spend their time programming.
> Must be nice to do a quarter of the work and still get paid so much...
> Kristy Borowik
> Training & Technical Publications Developer
> ------------------------------
> Original Message
> Date: Sun, 24 Feb 2008 17:31:39 +0200
> From: SB <sylvia -dot- braunstein -at- gmail -dot- com>
> Subject: Writers job description/definition
> To: TECHWR-L <techwr-l -at- lists -dot- techwr-l -dot- com>
> Message-ID:
> <693ee1f60802240731t66b5a58cwc5841366802fd613 -at- mail -dot- gmail -dot- com>
> Content-Type: text/plain; charset=ISO-8859-1
> I have been working in this company for the past three years. OK, it is
> true that I have only recently started to receive a list of deltas
> between versions and it is still not complete. So, I do have to do a
> comparison which is very long and very tedious. So yes, this needs to be
> fixed.
> My colleague (a freelancer) believes that he should get all the material
> from the engineers. He works without a system (OK, lately there was a
> lot of pressure), focusses on what he understands (the warnings for
> example, which is obviously trivial compared to the rest) and edits the
> English but does not bother trying to make any sense because "this is
> the job of the engineers" and doing that would be doing "QA", which is
> not our job.
> So, this colleague, who has many years of experience, focusses on
> editing what he gets and making things pretty. Of course, since he is
> very focussed on detail, it takes him a long time. However, if I tell
> him that he has to think in terms of user and that the engineers are not
> supposed to understand how to do that, he argues with me and tells me
> that it is not our job and that his wife is not suppsed to know how to
> install this. The unfortunate part is that he does not know either and
> he does not even try to understand.
> So, he has many years of experience working as a sole technical writer
> and doing pretty much everything he wants the way he wants (and gets
> paid a lot of money for it). However, even the editing and the
> formatting takes him ages and in the end the work becomes my job. It is
> really hard for me to commit to a deadline because I can't truly rely on
> him and most of the time the work actually falls back on me.
> So, is this how it goes? Am I totally wrong and he is right? We get all
> the material from the engineers, we don't try to make sense of it and
> work with a system, and we assume that the engineers know how to
> introduce the material to users. So what we do is edit and format. Write
> nice little macros, at times redraw a block diagram and that's it, we
> get a huge salary.
> Am I expecting too much from him? Am I defining the job the wrong way? I
> mean, I remember in my previous company that my boss was also trying to
> make sense of things and work with a system (hardware or software), even
> if we had to release things very fast.
> OK, so now I have to come to my boss and introduce a job descriptoin of
> what technical writers are expected to do.
> Anybody can help? I am not trying to get a specific list for my company
> but a list that shows the responsibilities of the technical writer,
> especially a senior technical writer (that reports to me) and that earns
> a fortune.
> --
> "What I like to drink most is wine that belongs to others." - Diogenes
> Please consider the environment before printing this e-mail
> Need affordable web hosting? I recommend 1 & 1 - that's where I'm hosted!

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RE: TECHWR-L Digest, Vol 28, Issue 22: From: Borowik, Kristy

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