Getting respect (was Re: Help Wanted ads)

Subject: Getting respect (was Re: Help Wanted ads)
From: Kelly Hoffman <kelly -at- NASHUA -dot- HP -dot- COM>
Date: Tue, 6 Sep 1994 11:04:55 -0400

Elizabeth Hanes Betsy Perry <ehp648c -at- CRUSHER -dot- DUKEPOWER -dot- COM> writes:

> _Writing_ uses my analysis and logic skills just as heavily as
> _software development_ does; but the commonest compliment I get
> from my developer friends is "You're really intelligent!

Said, of course, with an almost childlike sense of amazement that
anybody with any brains would *choose* tech writing over software

> "Why aren't you doing development work??"

I used to get this, too (in a previous job). My usual response was
"because writing is *far* more challenging." (or, if I was feeling
particularly peevish, I'd hit 'em over the head: "because software
development's *easy*; writing is far more challenging." ;-)

Even though I tempered the response with a smile, it usually stopped
'em cold.

> When I look at the intelligence, ingenuity, and hard work required to
> do _good_ technical writing, and then I compare it to the respect and
> the pay scales, sometimes I wonder why I don't go back into computer
> science. I've seen too many good technical writers do just that, and
> I think it's a great loss to the profession.

Aye, there's the rub.

On the other hand, several folks mentioned in the "to certify or not
to certify" discussion that a lack of respect was one thing they hoped
certfication would address. (I seriously doubt it, but I don't really
want to open that can of worms again! ;-).

Quite simply: Respect is something that you have to earn. I think the
hard part for tech writers is that we so often have to overcome the
bad taste left by predecessors. This means that, on the respect
scale, we're not starting at zero, but at some negative number.

So, anyone up for a discussion of how to battle the "tech writers are
fools until proven otherwise" syndrome?


Kelly K. Hoffman kelly -at- nashua -dot- hp -dot- com
Learning Products Engineer
Hewlett-Packard, Network Test Division "Reading the manual is
One Tara Blvd., Nashua, NH 03062 admitting defeat."

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