Re: Certification: Ernest and Scribbler

Subject: Re: Certification: Ernest and Scribbler
From: Keith Hood <klhra -at- yahoo -dot- com>
To: techwr-l -at- lists -dot- techwr-l -dot- com, Bill Swallow <techcommdood -at- gmail -dot- com>, dvora -at- tech-challenged -dot- com
Date: Sun, 18 Jul 2010 21:06:36 -0700 (PDT)

Deborah, I'd like to reply to some of your points in paired responses because that's easier for me to ensure my comments are properly aligned.  Many thoughts, some disconnected and some in the form of rhetorical questions...

You wrote:  "*I've been a proponent of certification for a long time. Why? Because
I've watched terribly incompetent people become billed as great
technical writers, while the competent and experienced people get
passed over and forgotten."

My response:  And you figure the right way to deal with this is for the STC to do something that will affect the future of ALL technical writers everywhere, even those who are not members, who have not been asked for input on this issue, who have not given the approval for the STC to change their marketability?  I cannot agree.  And since when is there any need for any "solution" to this "problem?"  With all due respect, I don't think it's your call or the STC's.  Since when is the STC supposed to police our ranks or right wrongs like the Caped Crusader?  I thought the STC was supposed to be a society of technical communicators, not a corporate resume-winnowing service or a regulatory agency.  I cannot, do not, and will not agree with the idea that they should be able to pass judgment on anyone's abilities.  Like my morals are between me and God, the value of my abilities or the lack therof are between me and the employers, and the STC has no
right to stick their nose into it.  What has the STC ever done for any of us that we should think it right for them to be able to say we're not good enough?  I'm not an STC member and I owe them nothing, so what moral, ethical, or philosophical principle gives them the right to insert themselves between me and a possible job?  If you've seen incompetents be lauded while good people got the shaft, then I think it was most likely the fault of the employers for not being capable of distinguishing them.  It's also a matter of personalities amount the writers.  The STC cannot address the issue of employer competence or honesty, or of TW morals, by any means.  This certification you want - how would it keep a bad employer from believing the wrong writer's lies?  How would it keep that employer from making bad decisions or having impure motives?  How would it protect a good tech writer who doesn't have a head for office politics from being hosed by a
competitor who is not as good a writer but is more skilled and more weasely at gaming the boss?  Unfortunately, having the STC hand out papers that say who is or is
not good enough to be hired cannot possibly really solve the problem you

You wrote:  "I've worked with people in STC who are
passionate about our profession, and their technical communication
skills in actual practice are horrific."

My response:  Horrific.  You are aware, of course, of the meaning of that word?  OK, you've admitted their skills are lousy.  And you want THESE people to have the right to decide if WE are any good?

You wrote:  "I think that IF STC does
this properly (I won't go into my concern on that level here), it could
be a plus to the profession. But the key issue is, how do find out if
someone really is a good technical communicator?"

My response:  Maybe. But the real key issue is this:  is it right for the STC to be doing this at all?  I don't think so. 

You wrote:  "I believe that
technical communication is far more than the ability to write a
procedure. It involves a lot of other things as well."

My response:  Actually, that is my point.  That is why I don't want to even further dehumanize the job candidate selection process by having the STC give employers yet another way to make decisions based on nothing but who has the right initials after the name.  I WANT employers to have to consider more than the ability to write a procedure.  But giving them a situation where they can make hiring decisions by doing nothing but asking which candidate has the STC cert letter and which doesn't is a step in the wrong direction.  You don't make people consider that "lot of other things" by giving them a mechanism that enables and encourages them to make decisions without actually thinking about the candidate at all.

I have absolutely no doubt you believe you are trying to do something good for the profession.  But in this case, I believe what you think is good for the *profession* would be, in the long run, very bad for a hell of a lot of *people* in the profession.


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Re: Certification: Ernest and Scribbler: From: Deborah Hemstreet

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