RE: Appropriate -- so inappropriate!

Subject: RE: Appropriate -- so inappropriate!
From: "Combs, Richard" <richard -dot- combs -at- Polycom -dot- com>
To: "Kathleen MacDowell" <kathleen -at- writefortheuser -dot- com>
Date: Fri, 10 Jul 2009 14:59:48 -0600

Kathleen MacDowell wrote:

> Perhaps you could clarify the sentence beginning, "aggressively non-
> technical ..."?
> In my experience, vagueness is more likely to originate with engineers or
> software developers who are busy doing their primary job, which is not
> typically writing instructions or user assistance.
> As a non-technical technical writer who does an excellent job documenting
> software and hardware, I also take exception to the whole tenor of your
> comment. A so-called technical writer who would insert an ambiguous phrase
> is simply not in tune with the requirements of the job. It doesn't matter
> if they're "technical" or "non-technical".

I suspect that we mean different things by the term "non-technical." If you don't insert such ambiguous phrases, then you're not the kind of non-technical tech writer I was thinking of. :-)

I've seen plenty of documentation like the procedure I described, and I've met (and occasionally worked with) the authors of such documentation. They typically don't care to understand the products and technology they're documenting, preferring to simply edit and make "look pretty" the information they get from SMEs and other sources. And they often defend their ignorance by saying it makes them more in tune with novice users.

Maybe I shouldn't say "non-technical," which suggests anyone who can't program, hasn't mastered a body of technical knowledge, etc., but I'm not sure what a better term would be. I said _aggressively_ non-technical to suggest someone who not only doesn't know the technology but is opposed to learning about it. Would anti-technical be better?


Richard G. Combs
Senior Technical Writer
Polycom, Inc.
richardDOTcombs AT polycomDOTcom
rgcombs AT gmailDOTcom


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RE: Appropriate -- so inappropriate!: From: Combs, Richard
Re: Appropriate -- so inappropriate!: From: Kathleen MacDowell

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