Are tech writers inherently snobby?

Subject: Are tech writers inherently snobby?
From: Geoff Hart <ghart -at- videotron -dot- ca>
To: TECHWR-L Writing <techwr-l -at- lists -dot- techwr-l -dot- com>, Karen Field Carroll <kfcarroll -at- cox -dot- net>
Date: Tue, 25 Aug 2009 18:36:44 -0400

Karen Field Carroll wondered: <<For the second time in two days, I've
posted to the list and gotten an off-line reply that I thought reeked
with arrogance. Each time I wrote back and asked for clarification on
the tone, because, as I'll be the first to tell you, I'm somewhat
defensive and tend to read a lot into e-mails, and so I wanted to be
sure I'm not being my over-protective self.>>

First off, it's generally wise to assume that in e-mail, and
particularly in discussion forums, people are writing in a hurry and
not self-censoring as much as they might otherwise do. The problem is
exacerbated by the fact that the abundant clues you can use to judge
someone's intent in face-to-face communication are missing, and that
leads to frequent misunderstandings even with carefully worded
messages. Except in the case of unmistakable attacks or criticism,
it's better to assume that someone mis-spoke or simply screwed up
rather than that they're actively malicious or snobby.

If you've been following the discussions in this forum, you'll have
noted how much time people spend helping others without asking for
anything in return, often sacrificing considerable amounts of their
own time to do so. It's one of the reasons I've lasted 16+ years as a
member. Techwr-l represents a community of hugely generous and helpful
people, and I only recall meeting one list member in person who I
actively didn't like -- though there are several I routinely disagree
with and who sometimes outright piss me off. Such is the human
condition. (I've met hundreds of listmates over the years at
conferences or workshops.)

That being said, techwhirlers do have a bit of a reputation for
resembling Tina the Techwriter from the Dilbert comics. Mostly, that
seems to result from a combination of workplace stress (including
insane deadlines and the growing fear of being outsourced) and a lack
of respect from their employers, with a dash of user-hostile and buggy
software thrown in for good measure to add to the burden of stress.
That often leads to snippy behavior that nobody is proud of.

Geoff Hart (
ghart -at- videotron -dot- ca / geoffhart -at- mac -dot- com
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Are tech writers inherently snobby?: From: Karen Field Carroll

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