Subject: Justification/Apology
From: Andrew Woodhouse <awoodhou -at- MPC-UK -dot- COM>
Date: Wed, 8 May 1996 10:37:24 +0100

Debbie Molinaro writes:

> > This list is (supposed to be, correct me if I'm wrong) a
> > professional discussion list, but having subscribed (admittedly
> > mostly quietly) for about 6 months, I've found it increasingly
> > irksome to wade through the waffle and idle speculation to
> > pluck the fruit from the chaff.

> I always thought it was "wheat from the chaff." Frankly, I'm
> surprised that no one on this list has said anything about it ;-)
> Maybe it depends on what Bible translation you're using.

Errr...It's actually an allusion to Chaucer's Canterbury Tales. Perhaps Chaucer
was alluding to the Bible?

> And for the record Andrew, Arlen's joke was rather tame (and, I thought,
> rather funny). My feeling is that you're better off quitting this
> list...you don't seem like you have the stomach for it.

> ---------------------------------------------------------------
> molinaro_debbie -at- ny -dot- mrc -dot- sony -dot- com
> Manager, Technical Publications

> "...and all this science I don't understand. It's just my job
> five days a week." E. John/B. Taupin, Rocket Man.
> ----------------------------------------------------------------

Hang on a moment, Debbie!

That's a pretty serious allegation and I think I should try to claw back some
cred. (plus I don't know what prospective employers subscribe :-) )

I must admit to a certain amount of chagrin now regarding my flame of the
profession yesterday, but for a number of reasons it had been a hard day and I
was just about ready to explode...<<sob story snipped for good taste>>

I think I'll follow Dan Strychalski's advice and stay with the list, but with
the Digest. That'll probably make it easier for me to deal with. (my mailbox
currently fills up with some 200 messages per day)

However, my central point remains. I subscribe to a number of mailing lists,
many of which have little or no relevance to work, so I think I understand the
mailing list mentality - and have the stomach for it. My problem with this list
is the amount of traffic generated which doesn't seem relevant - and I don't
just mean to me. I like hearing about the range of tech. writing work.

Now I'm no perfectionist, and I know that the nature of mailing lists/newsgroups
is that they can be a bit anarchic, but shouldn't this be moderated in some way
- if not by the listowner then by the members themselves?

[I must confess that since I'm not in the US, I didn't get the allusion to the

Regarding Guy's assertion that I'm the one to blame for the standard of writers
I've interviewed, here's what happened on Friday. A chap came in claiming around
16 years of writing experience, including GUIs and Unix tools, and his skills
sounded ideal for the post I have to fill. The interview went quite well, so I
was confident he'd sail through the short writing test we've set up. He was
advised by the agency that we were doing this for this post, since it's a 3
month contract, so there's no time for someone to learn Frame, or the basics of

Anyway, he sat down and the first question he asked was, "Do you want me to
write it on paper or on the computer?" I thought this was a little strange, but
not a big problem. I told him to use Frame, for which we've set up a small book
and all templates were defined.

The task was to document a sample of one of our tools, a set of buttons like
zoom in, zoom out, etc. These were chosen because they require no specific

After about 15 minutes I went to see how he was getting on (he was looking a bit
lost) and he said to me rather angrily, "I think this is a software juggling job
and not a writing job. And I've used Frame on the PC and not Unix, and it'll
take me some time to relearn." I'm sure those of you who've used both versions
know that they're aren't that different!

Please tell me if my expectations are too high?

I guess that's proof for the need of some kind of certification.

BTW: Guy, I can't be held responsible for who I work for, and your bad
experiences with them!

Andrew Woodhouse
US WEST International Systems Group

email: awoodhou -at- isysg -dot- com
Tel: +44 181 214 3499
Fax: +44 181 214 2335

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