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 10:53:52 -0600

Comments are inline to my earlier response. Basically, after I re-read the
original poster's message and the other responses, I concluded that in all
likelihood there was no gaffe. Jim Jones

-----Original Message-----
Sent: Thursday, October 16, 2008 9:29 AM

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.

Now Jim says: But it probably was not any kind of wrongdoing -- the SME is
trying to help and that is a good thing (and it can be terribly difficult to
enlist an SME's activist help). As others have pointed out, writing is a
collaborative process and the goal in the situation ought to be 'creating
the best doc possible'.

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?'

Now Jim says: Besides starting a new friendship, look in detail at the
suggested text (as others have said) and compare it in detail with yours...
and 'collaborate'

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.

Now Jim says: Not entirely relevant because the process itself involves the
kind of back-and-forth that the SME apparently has the time for.

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.

Now Jim says: Not entirely relevant but, certainly, make friends. Use the
contributed text as much as possible, and collaborate with the SME.

-----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 ...


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