RE: Someone to do the "donkey work"?

Subject: RE: Someone to do the "donkey work"?
From: "Downing, David" <david -dot- downing -at- fiserv -dot- com>
To: "Geoff Hart" <ghart -at- videotron -dot- ca>, "Technical Writing" <techwr-l -at- lists -dot- techwr-l -dot- com>
Date: Wed, 4 Mar 2009 10:45:45 -0600

We are using Word, and keeping a reference list of all the hyperlinks
sounds like the most immediately workable solution. I could start a list
right now and build it up each time I have to do this job, then pass it
around to people when it's more complete.

I'm sorry if I implied that editors ought to do the donkey work. I was
just saying as an aside that our editor used to. What I'm thinking is
that ideally, the publications department should bring in a "data
donkey." Then the editor could check that person's work.

David Downing
Senior Technical Writer
Credit Union Solutions

-----Original Message-----
From: Geoff Hart [mailto:ghart -at- videotron -dot- ca]
Sent: Wednesday, March 04, 2009 11:31 AM
To: Technical Writing; Downing, David
Subject: Someone to do the "donkey work"?

David Downing wondered: <<I'm currently in the midst of doing a task
that has to be done as part of the process of preparing a manual to
submit to our editor -- and which seems like it's something the
writers shouldn't be stuck doing. (Actually, the department manager
and the editor used to do it, but then they decided each writer should
do it for their own manuals.) The task is to locate every manual
reference and add the proper hyperlink by then locating the PDF name
of the referenced manual and pasting that in as the hyperlink. It can
take a long time and it seems like the kind of "donkey work" that
ought to be relegated to a data entry person. Of course, we don't have
the budget to bring in a data entry person.>>

Sounds like you should just suck it up and do the "donkey work". <g>
That's the way I've always worked, and it has an important advantage
you might not have considered: it lets the editor check that you've
done the job right. (Speaking as an editor, we're no better than
anyone else at checking our own work. Leave the work to your editor or
manager, and who will check _their_ work? Also speaking as an editor,
I kinda resent the implication that it's our job to do the donkeywork.

fwiw, this kind of thing can be automated reasonably well. If you're
using Word, for instance, create autocorrect shortcuts for each
hyperlink, and distribute those to the whole writing team. If you're
using software (e.g., Frame, Blaze) that supports variables, define
the hyperlinks as variables and distribute those definitions too. If
your software provides neither feature, create a single file that
contains a master list of all file locations, store it on the network
where everyone can reach it, and let your writers copy and paste the
links instead of having to hunt them down each time. When a link
changes, remind everyone to update their autocorrects, variables, or
whatever you're using to store this information.

Geoff Hart (
ghart -at- videotron -dot- ca / geoffhart -at- mac -dot- com
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Someone to do the "donkey work": From: Downing, David
Someone to do the "donkey work"?: From: Geoff Hart

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