Re: Re. Certification based on experience

Subject: Re: Re. Certification based on experience
From: "Arlen P. Walker" <Arlen -dot- P -dot- Walker -at- JCI -dot- COM>
Date: Mon, 17 Jul 1995 08:50:00 -0600

If "we" ever do decide to go with certification, this strikes me as
the way to go: a testimonial from your supervisor and colleagues, to
prove that you've been doing real work, for a real audience, and that
the audience really benefitted from the value you added. (Yes, this is
simplistic and prone to abuse, but it's a starting point. Perhaps some
form of audit to confirm that the testimonial is real.)

It's an interesting thought. It avoids most of the pitfalls of a certification
process, but there's always the question of what the result may mean.

Manager A at Company B has a stable full of incompetant writers, but that's OK
by him, as he thinks "complete documentation" is just one more check box to mark
off on the way to shipping the product. For whatever reason (perhaps he's bought
the hype) he wants all his writers to be certified. So, he writes a glowing
recommendation to the Whatever Board of Tech Writer Certification and gets them
all certified. (This, I'm sure, was covered by your "prone to abuse" statement -
- I just wanted to get it explicitly defined.)

The audit process brings another idea to mind. Perhaps samples of actual work
performed should be submitted and used instead of testimonials. But there are
still a few problems with it. First, what about those who cannot, for reasons of
national or commercial security, submit samples of what they do? They would be
left out in the cold under this approach. Then there are the poor tech writers
who toil inside a company whose documentation standards are either so poor or so
different that the Whatever Board doesn't like them (or, more importantly, docs
produced according to them). Those writers are actually performing
professionally, delivering a document that exactly meets the spec, yet they
would be denied certification because of company policy (or worse, judge's

There are some flaws yet in this approach, but it's better than testing.

Have fun,
Chief Managing Director In Charge, Department of Redundancy Department
DNRC 124

Arlen -dot- P -dot- Walker -at- JCI -dot- Com
In God we trust; all others must provide data.

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