Re: Ethics in Technical Writing

Subject: Re: Ethics in Technical Writing
From: Lauren <lauren -at- writeco -dot- net>
To: techwr-l -at- lists -dot- techwr-l -dot- com
Date: Mon, 1 May 2017 12:42:51 -0700

I’m not discussing the “phrase in question,” I’m discussing the ethical principle that the discussion about the phrase raised. Perhaps you do not value ethics in technical writing. Your statement about the phrase being “an actual quote or just some random jargon,” underscores the need of technical writing ethics. The lack of discussion on the subject of ethics underscores a lack of interest in ethics among technical writers.

It is artificial job security when documentation is wrong and the technical writer can blame the SME because the technical writer will be called on to fix bad documentation. That approach is not ethical. We do not know what the original phrase was but for all posterity, technical writers freely provided opinions on how to make a bad instruction grammatically correct, while the grammatical correction could change the instruction.

Ethics, if any are followed, would be breached if grammatical rules were followed over the accuracy of instruction. It is a dangerous practice if ethics like this are never followed. So why is it that technical writers neither discuss nor care to follow ethics? Why are SMEs held accountable for bad instruction when a technical writer may be the last person to see a document before it is released and can determine if an instruction is vague?


On 4/30/2017 10:49 AM, Robert Lauriston wrote:

You guys have certainly gone to remarkable lengths in discussing this
given that we don't know whether the phrase in question was an actual
quote or just some random jargon the original poster made up in the
style of his English-challenged SMEs.

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