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I don't really understand the strongly negative response to this
I think this discussion reveals some interesting things about
technical communicators' attitudes toward their readers. If we
believe that understanding technology is a social obligation akin
to driving a car safely, naturally we are offended by those who
won't "play by the rules." Even if we tone down the metaphor a
bit and equate technical literacy with good table manners, it
still enables those in the know to look down our noses at the
bozos who are drinking out of the fingerbowls.
As a technical communicator, I'm interested in developing a
different metaphor for myself than driving instructor or Miss
Manners. I want to be aligned with my reader, not with the
designers of the product (of whom I may nevertheless be one) or
the community of experts.
Specifically, I want my first thought always to be "What is my
reader trying to _do_ here?" -- not "How does the program do
this?" -- let alone "Why don't they already know this?" or "If
they don't know this, they shouldn't be using my product at all."
It's like the user is getting dressed, and I'm the valet who
unobtrusively makes their hat appear just as they reach for it.
I'm especially interested in the discussion of user-tolerant
design, since I believe (as I have said before) that an ounce of
design is worth a pound of documentation.
By the way, I don't buy the "people will unsub if we fight too
much" argument. I'm new to this list, and lively discussion like
this encourages me to stick around.