Re: When a SME...

Subject: Re: When a SME...
From: "Blount, Patricia A" <Patricia -dot- Blount -at- ca -dot- com>
To: <techwr-l -at- lists -dot- techwr-l -dot- com>
Date: Fri, 17 Oct 2008 14:32:12 -0400

Hi, David...

I've been in your shoes a few more times than I'd care to be...

(You'll find this funny: this is the same SME with whom I've been having
my assertiveness issues. For more information, see past posts titled
"Coworker who won't take no for an answer).

In fact, this guy has gone so far as to pull up a chair, take my
keyboard from me and type directly into my sourcing tool. Then, to add
insult to injury, he opened an internet browser page, directed it to his
favorite grammar site and proceeded to "instruct" me on the proper
distinction between "that" and "which".

He was wrong, by the way.

If you think this is bad, you should have seen the debate we had on the
proper use of the perfect tenses in software documentation. I had a
simple past tense sentence to which he inserted the word "have", because
he feels it's better his way. ("Use the back-ups you <have> made in Step
1 to restore the files.") Never mind that it must be translated into ten
other languages, some of which do not have tenses the way we understand
them. Never mind that our charge as technical writers is to write
clearly and directly. I will break grammar rules when the meaning of a
particular passage is better conveyed because I am not being "graded" on
grammar; I'm being graded on comprehension.

I find it insulting and annoying, truthfully, but have learned it is
better not to argue - it wastes far too much of my time. But it is
easier than having to play email tag with various drafts. I usually
revise the SME's version to meet our standards and go with that. 90% of
the time, there are no issues with this but every once in a while, I am
asked to defend my actions. That's when I pull out my job description,
my styles & standards guide, and the SME's drafts and explain that (not
which!) I am the writer. I decide writing issues. The SME decides on
technical accuracy.


End rant. Sorry about that. It just makes me crazy that every yahoo with
a diploma believes they can write and write well. Now I know how Jeff
Gordon must feel when people tell him it can't be that hard to win a
NASCAR race. It's just driving in circles, right?

Patty B.

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