Re: Certification: Ernest and Scribbler

Subject: Re: Certification: Ernest and Scribbler
From: Steven Jong <stevefjong -at- comcast -dot- net>
To: Gene Kim-Eng <techwr -at- genek -dot- com>
Date: Thu, 22 Jul 2010 17:27:24 +0000 (UTC)

Gene, that's a good point. My original formulations were meant to be ambiguous, but the reaction on this list pushed me to become more explicitly "good" and "bad." That's not how I'd write test questions, if I were writing test questions.

Dr. Deming said that people don't set out to do bad work, and I believe him. I have in my mind an increasingly clear image of Ernest and Scribbler, and Scribbler isn't trying to be a poor performer or uncertifiable; he simply doesn't know any better, and thinks he's doing a good job. I have seen, worked with, orÂmanaged Âa number of Scribblers. To illustrate specific traits I gave previously (using "he" to represent both the men and the women):

The Scribbler who copied and pasted emails and specs from developers into documents absolutely unchanged, because it was the fastest and heÂwouldn'tÂmake any mistakes of interpretation. I knew this because (a) when I took over the book, I saw unique Lotus Notes formatting characters in the Word source files, and (b) the original subjunctive mood of a spec appeared inÂthe manual--"It would be nice if the function did .. ."

The Scribbler who incorporated every review comment immediately upon receipt and turned around another draft for review, because it was Âfast and responsive andÂit ensured that all comments were reviewed by all reviewers. T he constant churn confused and harrassed reviewers,Âwho complained loudly to me about it.

The Scribbler who used Level 3 heads to introduce procedures because it looked best that way. I agreed, but pointed out that the practice rendered the material difficult to reuse and difficult to structure. (As I recall, that Scribbler fixed me with a pitying look... 8^)

The corollary to having ambiguous examples is that a hypothetical certification exam isn't going to have questions where you have an obvious Âchoice between "I do good work" and "I do bad work." If there even are multiple-choice questions on this hypothetical exam , they're going to offer choices thatÂeach seem like good practices to some people. Or it's going to set up a scenario and ask what you would do, and some peoples' answersÂareÂnot going to beÂaccepted.

ÂÂÂÂÂÂ-- Steve

----- Original Message -----
From: "Gene Kim-Eng" <techwr -at- genek -dot- com>
To: techcommdood -at- gmail -dot- com, stevefjong -at- comcast -dot- net
Cc: techwr-l -at- lists -dot- techwr-l -dot- com
Sent: Thursday, July 22, 2010 12:35:13 PM
Subject: RE: Re: Certification: Ernest and Scribbler

IMO, the "Rrnest vs Scribbler" comparison is rapidly degenerating into "good employee/bad employee" rather than a comparison of individuals who do or do not have the necessary knowledge, experience or skills to be effective in the profession. ÂAnalogies that would be equally applicable to technical writers and unskilled hourly workers and do not focus on profession-specific qualifications will not be of use to hiring managers and will contribute to an impression of triviality.

Gene Kim-Eng

------- Original Message -------
On 7/22/2010 Â4:03 PM Bill Swallow wrote:
> Ernest completesÂbrief assignmentsÂwithout supervision.
> Scribbler takes more time and energy explaining why he can't do brief assignments than it takes to complete them.

Do either of them analyze the need for small assignments and assess
whether they might be better addressed in another way so as to better
manage their occurrences going forward?

Scribbler comes off as a whiner which suits the point, but Ernest
comes off as "just doing my job" which doesn't scream "good example"
in my book at all.

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