Re: Request for Change

Subject: Re: Request for Change
From: Stuart Burnfield <slb -at- FS -dot- COM -dot- AU>
Date: Tue, 13 Feb 1996 00:36:33 +0800

Many off topic posts are interesting; one of the delights of being a
techwhirler is serendipity. But there are very many interesting places on
Usenet, not so many useful ones, and none so useful to me as this list.
I'd hate to see it go.

I can think of two things that could lose us techwr-l. One would be to
lose its home. Maybe we'd find another sponsor, maybe not. The other would
be to lose our tech writing focus -- for too little signal to be drowned
out by too much noise.

The simplest remedy for these ailments is a regular dose of Eric's
guidelines. You don't even have to follow them religiously to feel the
beneficial effects. You just need to remember a few useful tips:

- short posts are better than long ones
- on topic posts are better than borderline ones
- we don't own the list. Eric doesn't own it. okstate doesn't own it. BUT
they do own the disk space and the CPU that makes it tick. They let us
use it for free, on the basis that it's a worthwhile public service. If
we stop looking like a deserving cause they are quite free to find some
better use for the resources.
- even though the list is free, many subscribers pay connection time to
download messages (I'm lucky; I don't).When we post thoughtlessly or
carelessly, it costs them dollars or pounds or whatever.

Several people defended threads like which/that, K/k and on-line/online
on the grounds of relevance. I disagee. Not everything of interest to
technical writers is best discussed on techwr-l. Specialist questions
should be answered by specialists. It's not that you can't get good answers
on this list to questions about Frame, Word, grammar, usage, translation,
etc. It's just that you'll probably get the right answer faster from the
horse's mouth AND fewer of the wrong answers. At least if you look in the
obvious places first you'll be better able to weigh the information you
get here.

Someone suggested an FAQ. I think that's a great idea. It wouldn't be like
most FAQs though, because our sort of questions don't usually have simple
yes|no answers. What would be more useful is a warehouse of Frequently
Ravelled Threads (peer reviews, online vs paper, assessing quality,
certification...), and a list of pointers to resources such as listservs,
reference and other books, URLs, courses, news groups (especially their
FAQs), and so on.

Gathering the material shouldn't be a problem. I have lots of it on file
myself. All it needs is a home (page). How about it? Any volunteers to
help contribute, collate, tag, update? A Web page sounds ideal. I couldn't
even use it as I don't have Web access, but it would still help me. I'd
much rather point people to a central resource than repost old material
every few months and keep forwarding the same old mail to new subscribers.

Any STC chapters or TW courses looking for a student project?

Stuart Burnfield (slb -at- fs -dot- com -dot- au) Voice: +61 9 328 8288
Functional Software Fax: +61 9 328 8616
PO Box 192
Leederville, Western Australia, 6903

ps. what keeps me awake at nights? 12 consecutive days of 32 - 42 degree
maximum temperatures (90 - 108F), several more promised. Lucky I live
near the beach...

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