Sweet embraceable you...

Subject: Sweet embraceable you...
From: Stuart Burnfield <slb -at- FS -dot- COM -dot- AU>
Date: Wed, 13 Dec 1995 10:09:09 +0800

Brad Barnes (T) <blb -at- FORMTEK -dot- COM> wrote:
> What I perceive in Mr. Mateosian's comment above is confusion about who the
> audience is.

> If I'm writing a manual for system administrators, then the system admin-
> istrator is my audience, NOT some other users. I would never refer to
> these other users in the second person in a system administrator's manual!

Even if you aim your manual at system administrators, you shouldn't assume
that the reader will be one. In my experience most sites don't have fixed
boundaries between administration, operations, and other data centre
functions. In small organisations there may be one or two staff who do
everything. Large organisations may have specialist network administrators,
DBAs, senior and junior operators, tape librarians, and so on.

I think what Richard is saying is "talk to one person at a time." Address
the reader as 'you', and refer to other users by their role or in the third

For example, if I were explaining how to give someone the ability to run a
backup job, I'd say something like "To allow an operator to run a backup
you must assign them the 'backup' capability, as follows..." blah blah.

If I were explaining an error message like "Backup job failed: permission
denied", I might say "To run a backup job you must have the 'backup'
capability. Capabilities are assigned by the system administrator through
the foobar menu."

In either case I think there's no confusion. The instructions should be
clear whether the site has a single operator/administrator, one operator
and one administrator, or several people doing both these jobs.

Well, back to speccing my next system administration manual...

Stuart Burnfield (slb -at- fs -dot- com -dot- au) "I'm a tech writer for you baby
Functional Software A churning urn of burning funk..."
PO Box 192 (after James Taylor)
Leederville, Western Australia, 6903

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