Re: Respect or no?

Subject: Re: Respect or no?
From: "Susan W. Gallagher" <sgallagher -at- EXPERSOFT -dot- COM>
Date: Mon, 9 Sep 1996 13:06:56 -0700

At 09:57 AM 9/9/96 -0500, Eric Haddock wrote:
> Two independent posts on the same day about the same thing:

>>If you think you get no respect as a writer *now*, try being a
>>technical writer.


>>Technical writers don't often get the respect they deserve

> Really? I guess I'm naive because I haven't heard of this before.
> Am I wearing rose colored glasses?
> If I change jobs, should I go in with the perception that it's more
>likely than not that I won't be respected for what I do?


While a lack of respect for technical writers is not universal by
any means, it is widespread. If you've never encountered it, consider
yourself lucky. I've encountered it myself on several occasions and
as I interview to fill a current opening, the seasoned writers I
interview ask about the attitude toward tech writers in this company.
I proudly proclaim that technical writers are respected here.

Yvonne Harrison gave some of the reasons for a lack of respect in
her post -- that everyone has some ability to write and speak
English, so how hard could technical writing be. Another reason,
I think, is that many programmers (I don't know about other professions)
don't understand how anyone could work in the software industry and
not *want* to be a programmer. They think there must be something
"wrong" with us. %-) (well, maybe...)

How does the lack of respect manifest itself? Well, here are a few
of the situations I've encountered...

I spend *days* working on the organization of a particularly complex
chapter of a user manual. I finish the chapter an put it out for
review. A few days later, the project manager tells me to hand the
electronic copy over to a senior programmer for rework. There's no
doc manager to defend me, so I comply. The chapter comes back totally
scrambled. When I complain, I'm told to shut up and accept the changes.
When I finally get the product manager to listen to me, he "allows me"
to reverse all but one of the organizational changes.

And then there's...

"Sorry, user interface design meetings are for *developers* only."

"No technical writer could ever lead a team because they don't understand
the development process."

"Delete these warnings. They make the product look bad."

Me: "We need to plan for Win 95-style help."
Lead Programmer: "No we don't. We'll release long before Win 95."
Lead Programmer: "We need to hurry and implement Win 95-style help.
And, no, we can't hold the product up any longer. We're late as is!"

So I understand why those seasoned writers ask me, "what's this company's
attitude toward technical writers?" It's an important question. Because
when you work where you're respected, this is a great job. When you're
not respected, this job is H*** on earth!

Sue Gallagher
sgallagher -at- expersoft -dot- com
-- The _Guide_ is definitive.
Reality is frequently inaccurate.

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