RE: Honestly -- when an SME completely REWRITES your text ... GEEZ!

Subject: RE: Honestly -- when an SME completely REWRITES your text ... GEEZ!
From: "technical writing plus" <doc-x -at- earthlink -dot- net>
To: "'Downing, David'" <DavidDowning -at- users -dot- com>, <techwr-l -at- lists -dot- techwr-l -dot- com>
Date: Thu, 16 Oct 2008 09:28:46 -0600

No it has not happened to me yet, but I would think that this ought to be a
common writer-ly anecdote.

I'd go with your 'grateful' reason and here is why. If this happens to me,
then I concludes that I do not really know what the person's motivations
might be and this 'appreciate the assistance' response would be the safest
and most gracious way of reacting to the person's gaffe. And it is a gaffe
-- it certainly is a kind of wrongdoing that is related to the person not
minding his or her manners. Perhaps it was unintentional, I would not know.

I'd take the entire episode as an excuse to start a friendly relationship
with the person. Most definitely I would not say anything that pointed out
the gaffe -- even if the person were to ask me something painfully direct
like 'Was it not OK for me to point out your writing errors in the meeting?
Didn't you like my honesty and directness?'

Let the person figure out for him or her own self, over time, that perhaps
the behavior was untoward. And if he or she never figures it out? Well, that
is life in the business world.

But I'd say make friends with the person and take care to let him or her
down very gently when it comes time to say 'Sorry but we cannot use your
rewrite in the document.' You can even use the text itself as an excuse for
starting a discussion.

Jim Jones

-----Original Message-----
The other day, I held a document review meeting, and one of the SMEs
told me I needed to rewrite the description of a particular function to
clarify it. Okay, fair enough. I rewrite the passages (and made various
other revisions from the meeting) and sent out the revised text to
everyone. I got an email back from this particular SME this morning in
which he completely rewrite the function description for me. I'm not
sure whether to be

- Grateful to him for trying to be helpful.

- Angry with him for not keeping his place and trying to usurp my role.
Hey, I'M the writer.

- Insulted, because he's decided I can't write. Rather than telling me
the passage heeds further clarification, he's thrown up his hands and
just said, "Looks like I need to write this for him."

One thing's for sure -- what he wrote does NOT conform to our
departmental style.

How would you take it -- and has anything like this happened to any of

(And I'm going to check the "To" filed in this email very carefully
before sending it. I've made the mistake several times recently of
sending messages to the list that were meant for someone else. It would
be just my luck, that I would send this message meant for the list to
the SME by mistake.)...


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Honestly -- when an SME completely REWRITES your text ... GEEZ!: From: Downing, David

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