Re: Technical writer/engineer nightmares

Subject: Re: Technical writer/engineer nightmares
From: Bonni Graham <Bonni_Graham_at_Enfin-SD -at- RELAY -dot- PROTEON -dot- COM>
Date: Thu, 21 Oct 1993 10:55:00 EST


You wrote:
I am writing a paper on the different approaches that a technical writer
may take to writing as opposed to an engineer. If anyone has any "nightmare"
stories/anecdotes (on the tech. writing as well as the engineering side), I'd be
interested in using a few in my paper.

I once worked with a programmer who insisted she could write doc just as well as
I could, in fact better, if she just had time. This was the same woman who,
when I went in to ask her what the user should enter in a particular database
field (it was a library acquisitions tracking and accounting system) would tell
me the entire data structure of the table, how it interrelated with every other
field in the database, what other modules did with it, etc., but never actually
tell me what the user should enter in the field. Kind of gives you an idea of
the programmer's priorities, doesn't it...?

I've also had programmers tell me that the users don't really care about the
presence or correctness of online help...

In general, programmers, in my experience, tend to look at the underlying
structure of the program as a guide to constructing the manual, while writers
look at how the program will be used by actual people trying to do something
with it. Marketing people (on a completely different tack), want the manual
structured so the spiffy stuff is first, regardless of whether the user will USE
it in that order.

Bonni Graham

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