Re: Editing comments too harsh?

Subject: Re: Editing comments too harsh?
From: Ted Heatherington <THeather -at- ALPHA -dot- CA>
Date: Wed, 11 Sep 1996 14:19:00 PDT

Date: Fri, 6 Sep 1996 15:28:17 -0400
From: "Glanbrok, Conqueror of Bluntskulls" <conehead -at- OVERTHE -dot- NET>
Subject: Re: Editing comments too harsh?

Vanessa Wilburn <vlwilburn -at- CPU -dot- COM>wrote:

> In my recent performance review, my manager said there
>have been complaints about my editing comments being too
>harsh. Part of my job requires proof reading engineers'
>writing (I am the only tech writer in the company).

>I thought that I was being sensitive. Has anyone encountered
>this problem? What do you do to *not* tread too heavily on
>engineer egos?

In our office, the engineers gladly pass the writing off to the tech
pubs and want as little to do with the process as possible... they
certainly don't complain that the writers as "too tough." But then,
here, anything tech pub edits, we subsequently "own" and maintain.

I guess the question is whether they see the "comments" as being
constructive and productive, or simply making them do more work. Will
the changes ever go outside the office? If they don't, then you may
be able to be more relaxed and allow wider variation of tone.

Suggestion? Well, since we get electronic copies and produce
hardcopy, I would edit madly and return two "clean" copies to the
engineering office; no marks either way (well, maybe common/minor
"errors"). Then they see my work beside theirs, not mine OVER theirs.

Finally, if I was concerned about my career and improving the
performance reviews, I wouldn't be as concerned about the engineers as
the reviewer; as I see it, if HE/SHE understands what you're marking
and how, they can either support your work when the others complain,
or give you directions on how THEY would do it. Either way, with the
reviewer "on your side," it should be easier to get a better
performance review. Also, the process becomes less of "some one said
X about you," to objective issues of "is this too harsh, or not." The
question is pulled out of rumor and anchored in fact, which never

Now, the only thing I would "prepare for" is the reviewer saying,
"this is your job, do it." To which I would have to say, "if you are
not prepared to review an issue you have criticized, I can assume you
will NOT criticize it in the future, right?" In my opinion, a
reviewer has a responsibilty to help resolve these sorts of issues,
especially if they are in the area of rumor and have been criticized.


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