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Documenting what you do for your own benefit is not a bad idea. From an ethical perspective, however, it is not as black and white as Dan suggests. It clearly becomes a question of professional ethics only when Kevin is tasked with documenting what he does. Otherwise, you need to weigh the opportunity cost of documenting the job (against using that time to write and improve documentation).
It is also not a question of doing it out of gratitude for 20+ years of employment. Unless Kevin's employer has kept him on for charitable reasons, it is safe to assume that the relationship has been mutually beneficial.
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 Dan Goldstein
Sent: Wednesday, July 11, 2012 1:57 PM
To: techwr-l -at- lists -dot- techwr-l -dot- com
Subject: RE: document your job?
I consider it part of my professional ethics to leave clear documentation for those who will follow. Most of us have picked up a project where someone unnecessarily left us a mystery... or a mess.
To be clear, I'm not just talking about predecessors and successors. Ten years from now, the poor schmuck who has to figure out what I was doing this week might well be me.
- Dan Goldstein
P.S.: I try to avoid the "hit-by-a-truck" scenario. Instead, I always say to my colleagues whose work I document: "If you were to win the lottery tomorrow and move to Hawaii, what would the rest of us need to know?"
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