An Apology, Some Requests, and a Very Famous Tech Writer

Subject: An Apology, Some Requests, and a Very Famous Tech Writer
From: "John M. Gear" <catalyst -at- PACIFIER -dot- COM>
Date: Wed, 25 Jan 1995 16:02:00 PST

First, I apologize, specifically to Ms. Graham but also to
anyone else who took offense. In no way was it my
intent to flame you or anyone else. My intent was to object to a
practice that I consider to be inimical to the good of this list
(and lists in general).

However, as a professional technical communicator, I am
responsible for the message actually received, not just the
message I intended to send. I am sorry indeed. This has been
quite a learning experience. <Chastened>

And I'm thankful to the roughly two dozen people who
responded thoughtfully, both to support and oppose my position.
It's clear that I and the three people who wrote to say they
supported my position are in the distinct minority of people who
cared enough to respond.

As for the person who sent me e-mail to let me know that I was
somehow both a "facist" [sic] and a "communist" at the same
time, I am grateful that you took the time to unload your entire
intellectual arsenal on me at once. I hope it's not too many
years before you are resupplied. Are you _sure_ you didn't
mean to post that to the entire list?

And so, though I would like a chance to rebut some of the
points raised, that would clearly take us far from the list subject
and re-energize folks who disagree with me. Thus I refrain.
Please e-mail me directly if you want to continue a dialogue on
advertising on the net.

But, to accomodate different preferences, is it too much to ask
that posts offering products or services or announcing the
availability of same be clearly labeled, in the same way that
some posters use [HUMOR]?

A subject line of "Region 8 Videos with fax/mail options" did
*not* alert me that the message contained a list of products and
ordering instructions. But a subject line of "[ADV.] Region 8
Videos ..." surely would have. Eventually, I hope that ads for
STC products, services, meetings, and conventions gravitate to
the STC WWW page, obviating much of this discussion.

Similarly, thanks to folks who use subject lines like "RFI - Jobs
in Timbuktu." By using the "request for information" label you
let the rest of us delete the posts when they are of no interest to
us. Thank you.

If only the people who put "HELP DEVELOPER JOB
AVAILABLE IMMEDIATELY" as a subject line could
_please_ learn to use a format such as
"USA-WI-Sheboygan: Winhelp Developer."
It would be ever so much appreciated.

I'm also sorry if objecting to the video ad made anyone shy
about posting messages on things they find worthy. (Such as
the person who prefaced a note about Karen Gordon's wonderful
books with "This isn't an ad.")

Please don't stop. The best thing a list has to offer is the
recommendations and discussions of tools and ideas by people
with no stake (financial, personal, or organizational) in selling
them. That's the sharing of lore that I spoke of originally,
which makes a list worth supporting.


John Gear

P.S.: Dave Barry taught business writing for several years
before becoming a columnist. I think that a review of many of
his best columns would suggest that he is still essentially a
technical writer. His best columns are descriptions of things
exactly as they are, when he is forced to say, "I am NOT
making this up!" because truth is so often stranger than fiction.
So, if you want to go to a masquerade dressed as a famous
technical writer, just get a bad haircut and a cheap guitar and
tell 'em you're Dave Barry, lead guitarist for the "Rock Bottom

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