Ceritification - STC

Subject: Ceritification - STC
From: "Cheverie, Paul [Cont]" <paul -dot- cheverie -at- GPO -dot- CANADA -dot- CDEV -dot- COM>
Date: Tue, 9 Jan 1996 16:40:00 EST

This may get me flamed even though it is not meant as a blanket
indictment of STC members or STC as an organization, but I'm going to say
it anyway.
I am not yet a fan of STC certification of Technical Writers,
particularly because of the people who made up the executive committees in
the only STC chapter I've seen (the chapter in Winnipeg, Manitoba, Canada).
I found this chapter to be belligerently elitist (without sufficient reason)
and profoundly dictatorial. I won't go into the gruesome details, but
suffice it to say I have less than normal professional respect for the
principals involved. I am glad that I have "met" STC members on this list.
The STC members on this list have improved my opinion of STC tremendously. (
I understand that there has been a change in the executive of that chapter
in the recent past, and I sincerely hope that they are under more
enlightened leadership today. )
However, my comfort level with STC providing certification for this
craft is not very high. I don't question that there may be benefits with
certification, but I still have questions about the motivation of STC for
pushing it. I don't know if this is a group of people caught up in a good
sounding slogan without actually understanding its ramifications or the
responsibilities incurred by the certifying organization, if it is truely an
attempt at responsibly improving the perceived and actual quality of the
craft of technical writing, or if it is just a badly orchestrated attempt to
corner the market.
If STC becomes the "governing body" for certification of technical
communicators (as was explained to me by the president of the Winnipeg
chapter of STC) it will acquire the legal status as a governing body in
much to same way the national medical associations have, with the power to
license, discipline its membership and exclude individuals from the
marketplace who do not possess STC certification. This to my mind is way
beyond the original scope of STC and probably beyond its present competence
as an organization.
If STC certification becomes a reality in the future there is a danger
that there will be subjective and variable criteria for certification and
that writers who should be certified will not be (the reverse will also
happen). The qualifications requisite to certification need to be objective
in nature and based upon real-life, hard objectives and requirements, not
upon membership in any society, club or social/familial ties.
I think that before STC tries to convince the technical world is should
certify technical communicators, it should convince technical communicators
and the technical world it is competent to do so. In Canada it has yet to do

Paul Cheverie
paul -dot- cheverie -at- gpo -dot- canada -dot- cdev -dot- com

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