Re: Worm Castings

Subject: Re: Worm Castings
From: Bonni Graham <Bonni_Graham_at_Enfin-SD -at- RELAY -dot- PROTEON -dot- COM>
Date: Mon, 29 Nov 1993 11:36:00 EST

"Technical Writers List; for all Technical Communication issues" <
From: Alun Whittaker <alun -at- CORTE-MADERA -dot- GEOQUEST -dot- SLB -dot- COM>
Comments: To: TECHWR-L -at- VM1 -dot- ucc -dot- okstate -dot- edu
SMTP-CCMail translator Ver: acm 2.75 11/17/93
Bonni_Graham_at_Enfin-SD -at- relay -dot- proteon -dot- com

Remember, it is MUCH MUCH easier to criticise than to create. It is even easier
to criticise than to edit/fix. "I don't like this/This doesn't work" is
different from "I like this better/I think it would work better this way".

Writers have research and interviewing skills -- if you are able to research the
subject matter for a book you should also be able to research people's reaction
to a draft of the book.

Yeah, IF you can find them (sometimes you can't get in touch with comments from
a beta site easily...) Besides, my point is still valid. It IS easier to
critique than create. Doesn't mean the critiques aren't valid. Doesn't mean
the critiquing process should be eliminated. Just means that those who
critique, while experts on critiquing, often have different skills than those
who create.

The engineer (scientist, designer, whatever) is the expert on what needs to be
in the book. You are the expert on getting it there!

Well, sometimes. What about programmers who have no clue about what the
audience is really going to use the product for? I had a programmer insist
that the users of the product she was working on needed the full data
structure, and the path each record took through all the internal processes of
the system. The audience was librarians who were trying to log a purchased
book or magazine. These people had no background in database programming, not
did they care. Just for grins, and because she might have been right, I gave
in and put the info she wanted in the beta manual, where she wanted it. We got
more tech support calls on that module than on any other in the system, because
the wrong information was present. So, yes, but not all the time.

I would rephrase to: "The engineers are the source experts on the information
that needs to be in the book. The writers are the experts on sorting, culling
(if necessary, and sometimes it is), and organizing that information." Perhaps
we're saying the same thing again.

Just because I'm saying they can't create it doesn't mean I don't want their
input. I can't critique it they way they can, for example.

... And if you think that's flame bait wait 'til you read the direct email I
sent when I got your message the first time.

It's interesting that I'm reading into your statements that writers should be
eliminated (when that's evidently not what you mean) and you're reading into
my statements that reviewers should be eliminated (when I know that's not what
I mean). Perhaps we're both projecting? Maybe we've both hit a sore spot?

Just for clarification:

The more eyes that look at my work before it goes out for general release, the
happier I am. Every member of the team is important. Every comment should at
least be considered, and if rejected, be rejected for a defensible reason. If
one has questions about an edit, one should go to that edit's source and
haggle it out with him/her.

P.S. You're private email was milder... <grin>

Bonni Graham |
Technical Writer |
Easel Corporation, ENFIN Technology Lab |
Bonni_Graham_at_Enfin-SD -at- relay -dot- proteon -dot- com | flush, v. Align type to the
President, San Diego STC | left or right, thereby
| beating a pair of aces
NOTE: apparently my email address needs |
to be typed exactly as it appears here, | --Ezra Shapiro
punctuation and all, or the system gets |
upset. |

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