RE: What is happening to us -- was RE: What's wrong with this headline?

Subject: RE: What is happening to us -- was RE: What's wrong with this headline?
From: "Porrello, Leonard" <lporrello -at- illumina -dot- com>
To: Stephen Arrants <steve -at- mbfbioscience -dot- com>, William Sherman <bsherman77 -at- embarqmail -dot- com>, "salt -dot- morton -at- gmail -dot- com" <salt -dot- morton -at- gmail -dot- com>, "techwr-l -at- lists -dot- techwr-l -dot- com" <techwr-l -at- lists -dot- techwr-l -dot- com>
Date: Wed, 13 Jun 2012 15:14:39 +0000

I have a suggestion. But first I need to ask, does anyone else see the rhetorical pattern here?

1. A tech writer posts a lament that good writing is no longer respected or even recognized.
2. Several other chime in to support.
3. Others chime in to contradict.
4. Someone brings up that management seems to think that a SME/PhD/engineer can write as well as a professional writer and, more importantly, well enough to meet user needs. (This is where we are now in the thread.)
4a. (This step is optional.) This is where we hotly debate the writing ability of non-writers and perhaps digress even further into writing ability vs. prior subject matter knowledge.
5. Someone asks a rhetorical question about the ROI of having a SME/PhD/engineer write documentation. (This is what I was planning to contribute.)
6. After several additional emails, the consensus is that while some SME/PhD/engineer's can write well, having them do so is not cost-effective.
7. Everyone feels validated and the thread dies (until next time).

This thread pattern has been repeated so many times on the list that it is has become cliché.

Here is my suggestion. I propose that we call this thread "Tech Writer Lament #1". In the future, when it rears its head, someone can bring it to a speedy conclusion by posting, "Tech Writer Lament #1". When 4a. comes up on its own, we can call it "Tech Writer Lament #1a".

Whaddya think?

Leonard



-----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 Stephen Arrants
Sent: Wednesday, June 13, 2012 6:31 AM
To: William Sherman; salt -dot- morton -at- gmail -dot- com; techwr-l -at- lists -dot- techwr-l -dot- com
Subject: RE: What is happening to us -- was RE: What's wrong with this headline?

William Sherman says:

> As such, it impacts our jobs in that fewer people seem to view
> technical writers as a profession and as worth any money. After all,
> everyone learned to write in third grade.

I think the "everyone can write, we learned it in the third grade" attitude is a big part of the problem. I've been told "Well, he has a PhD and has written journal articles.
So we know he can write." But can he write accurate, concise procedures? How about creating any of the other documents needed?
Or will editing and rewriting take me more time than doing it myself?


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Follow-Ups:

References:
What is happening to us -- was RE: What's wrong with this headline?: From: William Sherman
RE: What is happening to us -- was RE: What's wrong with this headline?: From: Stephen Arrants

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