Review Process for documents in HTML? (take III)

Subject: Review Process for documents in HTML? (take III)
From: Geoff Hart <ghart -at- videotron -dot- ca>
To: Technical Writing <techwr-l -at- lists -dot- techwr-l -dot- com>, Julie Stickler <jstickler -at- gmail -dot- com>
Date: Sat, 11 Apr 2009 08:08:39 -0400

Julie Stickler wondered: <<Wow, you'd actually let your SMEs touch
your source files? *boggles* I've spent way too much time over the
past several years cleaning up problems that my colleagues introduced
into files and templates. The most commonly committed sin being
inline formatting.>>

For 10 years at my last job, we used exactly that workflow: edit with
revision tracking and turn it over to the SMEs to review. Worked just
fine; I don't recall any situation (ca. 30 authors, one research
director, and one editor) in which someone tried to game the system.
Of course, we had a generally great working relationship (one of
mutual respect and support), and a formal agreement that we would
discuss changes with each other to ensure everyone was happy (i.e., no
"behind the back" or untracked changes).

If you don't have that relationship, Julie's right that some stricter
measures may be required. In the case of a university press my wife
works with, all editing is done in Word, but the authors of the books
only get a printout to mark up. They've found, over time, that they
simply can't trust authors not to meddle or to do the job right. I
suspect the difference between the two situations is twofold. First,
the authors aren't pros: they only use the reviw process occasionally,
and thus forget it by the time the next book rolls around. Second, the
editor-author relationship is lacking: editors for the press will
probably never work with the author again after the edit is complete
(unless they are prolific book-writers), so you can't assume that the
relationship will develop happily.

<<NO WAY would I let an engineer, who possibly doesn't even understand
the concept of styles, anywhere near my source files.>>

In Word, you can lock/protect documents so that reviewers can't make
any changes without tracking them. Haven't used Frame, so I can't say
whether that's possible. But the more important point relates to
communication and trust: if you can educate everyone about the goal
(working together, not at cross purposes; fixing only substantive
issues, not minor points of grammar or format) and can get them to buy
in, the system I proposed works very well indeed. If you can't, then
Julie's approach may be required.

Geoff Hart (
ghart -at- videotron -dot- ca / geoffhart -at- mac -dot- com
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Review Process for documents in HTML?: From: Geoff Hart
Re: Review Process for documents in HTML?: From: Julie Stickler

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