Technical -v- Technical Writing Expertise

Subject: Technical -v- Technical Writing Expertise
From: Susannah Skyer <susannah -at- SCO -dot- COM>
Date: Thu, 25 Nov 1993 13:39:04 +0000

I agree - we should hire people who can write as technical writers.
And, we should judge that based on their work samples more than
their degree/background.

But, based on 5 years documenting unix applications and operating
systems internals, I would stress that:

- the writers we hire should have a similiar level of technical
understanding as their _readers_

I know this seems obvious, but I have not always found this to be
the case. I belive it is very unlikely to create good developer
documentation, for example, if you don't understand the needs of
a C programmer. To my mind, that requires fluency in C.

The question for my group has come down in the past to "who
can we train more easily - a writer to be more technical or
an engineer to be a better writer?" There are no easy answers,
but one of the most skilled valued members of our group is a former
physicist, then systems administrator, who did a short course in
tech writing before coming here. He possesses the ideal
combination of technical AND technical writing expertise.

So, writers don't always have to be techies. But, if you can
find someone who's both a techie and a writer, certainly
for systems documentation, I think you've lucked out.

Susannah Skyer
Senior Author
The Santa Cruz Operation / Europe, Middle East, Africa
susannah -at- sco -dot- com

/* I am speaking for myself, not SCO */

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