SME vs Tech Writer

Subject: SME vs Tech Writer
From: Michael LaTorra <mikel -at- ACCUGRAPH -dot- COM>
Date: Thu, 20 Apr 1995 15:45:53 MDT

WARNING! FLAME AHEAD!

Technical writers and Subject Matter Experts (SMEs) have always
been coworkers, at least in my experience. Very few of the SMEs
I've ever worked with have been decent writers, and the vast
majority have avoided writing their own documentation as much as
they possibly could. So our relationship has tended to be
cooperative. And I think this has worked well. Therefore,
I was surprised and disheartened when I read the following on
Frame Tech's WWW homepage under the subject "ISO 9000" subsection
"Characteristics of Quality System Documents":

- The documents are generally written and maintained
by subject matter experts rather than professional writers.

It seems to me that this is a prescription for documentation that
is written by experts, for experts; and even then it may not be
well-organized, well-written (grammatically), or even complete.
When non-experts encounter such documentation, they typically throw
up their hands in disgust. And do you know whom they blame for this
poorly written stuff? Not the SMEs. They blame us, the tech writers!
We are certainly not perfect. But it galls me when we take the blame
for others' mistakes.

Whew! I feel better now. FLAME OFF!


Live long & prosper,
Mike LaTorra

Documentation Supervisor
Accugraph Inc.
mikel -at- accugraph -dot- com
.....................................................................
The opinions expressed are my own, ][ "There could hardly be a more
and not necessarily those of my ][ unbearable -- and more
company -- but they probably ][ irrational -- world than one
should be. ][ in which the most eminent
================================= ][ specialists in each field
Free speech ][ were allowed to proceed
================================= ][ unchecked with the realization
Free markets ][ of their ideals."
================================= ][ -- F.A. Hayek,
Free spirit ][ THE ROAD TO SERFDOM
....................................................................


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