When are NDAs not binding? Was, RE: STC Certification - What Does It Really Mean

Subject: When are NDAs not binding? Was, RE: STC Certification - What Does It Really Mean
From: "Porrello, Leonard" <lporrello -at- illumina -dot- com>
To: 'William Sherman' <bsherman77 -at- embarqmail -dot- com>, "techwr-l -at- lists -dot- techwr-l -dot- com" <techwr-l -at- lists -dot- techwr-l -dot- com>
Date: Wed, 2 Nov 2011 18:23:30 +0000

When talking about providing samples, William said, "I have always signed non-disclosure agreements. I will not under any circumstance give ANYONE who does not have a need to know..." and "If it is available publicly, I point them to such URLs or locations where they can find it."

Is an NDA binding after a company has made your (its) work available to the general public?

How about if they have made it available or distributed it to parties that have not signed an NDA?

Does your average NDA prevent one from providing heavily redacted versions of a document that contains no proprietary information?

-----Original Message-----
From: techwr-l-bounces+lporrello=illumina -dot- com -at- lists -dot- techwr-l -dot- com [mailto:techwr-l-bounces+lporrello=illumina -dot- com -at- lists -dot- techwr-l -dot- com] On Behalf Of William Sherman
Sent: Wednesday, November 02, 2011 10:43 AM
To: techwr-l -at- lists -dot- techwr-l -dot- com
Subject: STC Certification - What Does It Really Mean

We have had some very long discussions about STC Certification. However, I
have a few thoughts to ponder.

A little Devil's Advocate, here, so think about this not as an attack but a
different POV.

1. STC is claiming to be THE body to sanction the skill and quality of a
technical writer as the primary organization of writers. However, how many
do they represent? I have searched the website and cannot find a membership
number. Do they represent 500 of us, 5000 of us, or 50,000 of us? And what
percentage of the technical writers and communicators do they actually

If you are in some areas, this question is sacrilegious to even question
STC. Some areas like the Bay Area have (had) an extremely strong and useful
chapter. Others are virtually non-existent or exist only to take your dues.
Don't let the fact you have a good or bad one color where STC really stands
in respect to the industry of technical writers. Find out.

Do you want a group that may represent 1% to determine the rules for the
other 99% getting a job? Maybe my McDonnell Douglas Technical Data
Engineering Certificate actually carries more weight.

2. Read all the fine lines and you see it is a club. It is no different than
the National Ferrari Owners Club, the National White Poodles Breeders Club,
or a host of others. It is a professional club but it is still a club none
the less. Until the club is recognized by other significant organizations,
what weight does it really have? I could start the North American Technical
Writers Association Society and begin a certification program. If I give
away donuts at the meetings, I might get more active members than many STC
chapters. Add some frozen yogurt and I bet I do.

3. There are lots of awards for club members. In many ways, they are like
Emmy or Oscar, the club patting its members on the back. Do these awards
mean anything outside of the organization? I have never in my life ever had
anyone in business ever say "Oh, we are lucky to have John Doe, because he
is an STC Fellow." Maybe others have, but I haven't and I have worked in
groups that have been as large as 200 writers before.

4. Certification is needed - yes | maybe | no. There are as many argument
for as against. I think it will come because of an early post I made about
companies being inept at interviewing today. They will be worse in the years
to come. This is the real reason for hiring only degreed people in all
fields, not because they are looking for the best, but because they have no
idea how to determine the satisfactory. That is unfortunately failing
miserably, because since everyone needs a degree to get a job, everyone in
the last 10 or 15 years is getting or has gotten a degree. Now nothing sets
them apart, so certification is the next natural course.

5. STC is pushing it. They are smart as they want in on the ground floor.
Someone will do it and whoever does, will have the power and the money. But
in some ways, this threatens everyone who has been working just fine for the
last 10, 20, 30 years without one based on the merits of their reputation.
Certification will essentially wipe out your reputation. It has already
begun with degrees. The last five years, many jobs demand a degree, whether
stated or not, and the lack of one gets you weeded out of the eligibility
before you ever have a chance to talk to anyone. You may have invented
FrameMaker or RoboHelp, but with no degree, many companies won't even get to
the point you can tell them. I know this for a fact. My sister works in the
legal department of a large electronics company which is more of a holding
company today and anyone without a degree is automatically removed from the
selection process. They did a lot of research on the legality of that before
it was instituted so she knows they are, as well as the companies they own
or control. If they do it, you can bet everyone else is, too.

6. Samples - many of you are walking down a narrow path that can't be good
here. ALL of my projects are for the benefit of the company paying and I
have always signed non-disclosure agreements. I will not under any
circumstance give ANYONE who does not have a need to know (as determined by
the client company) any of that information. And I do not take any of that
home, so I have no samples. So I can kiss certification goodbye.

When asked for samples by interviewers, I reply I do not have any because
all were produced under confidential or secret conditions and I am not at
liberty to pass those on. I trust they can appreciate that, because it means
I will protect their information the same way, as I am sure they do not want
me passing it to any and all companies just for an interview.

If it is available publicly, I point them to such URLs or locations where
they can find it.

Of course, these public documents that one can find today, are they all
mine? Or only 50%? Which words are mine and which have been rewritten by
one, two, or a dozen others since me?


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Re: Technical writing as a trade; was, RE: Give Me a Clear Thinker (was STC certification: what's in it for tech writers?): From: Steven Jong
STC Certification - What Does It Really Mean: From: William Sherman

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