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> I would not feel comfortable staking out a position like this if I
> sufficient knowledge to choose the "correct" term and back up my
> SMEs without having to first ask the members of a technical writing
> vote on it. Perhaps "Spectrum" feels the same way.
No doubt. But the tech writers who are content to leave it at that have
no business complaining that tech writers get no respect.
IMHO, it's the tech writer's job to _acquire_ sufficient knowledge to
make an informed decision. That can include picking the brains of the
SMEs, doing the kind of research done by several contributors to this
thread, and yes, even querying this list.
I'm responsible for the content and quality of the docs I write --
clarity, accuracy, fitness for purpose, etc. -- and am evaluated partly
on that basis. I don't expect SMEs to provide me with _content_ (except
to the extent that I can rewrite some material they've written for
internal purposes), I want them to help me achieve _understanding_.
There are _countless_ things of which I lack sufficient knowledge,
including many that at some point I have to write about. But I can't
fulfill my responsibilities if I'm content to _remain_ lacking in
sufficient knowledge -- because I can't write clearly about things that
I don't understand.
It's not about laying down the law or playing the language expert card,
either. I'm not suggesting that I'd get on a high horse or be a jerk
about this sort of thing. I'd talk to each SME about their reasoning, do
the research, make a decision -- and then thank them both for helping me
I just don't think a competent, self-respecting tech writer should be in
a position where two SMEs decide between them what the content of the
manual should be, and all the tech writer does is "make it look pretty."
Richard G. Combs
Senior Technical Writer
richardDOTcombs AT polycomDOTcom
rgcombs AT gmailDOTcom
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