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> As an "internal" technical writer at a software company, I get to have some
> input on the user interface. Developers often run new dialog boxes and
> features by me for comments, and they are open to suggestions I make for
> improving them.
> I was wondering--do contract writers typically get that sort of opportunity
> as well? Or will your contract strictly state that your job is to document
> the product, not to be involved in its design? Or does it vary quite a bit
> with the organization?
I can't count any more how many products I've helped design, as a
contractor. In my experience, captive tech writers don't really have
any more smarts than contract tech writers, and in fact usually
contractors have more experience with various kinds of interfaces and
hence have more valuable opinions. In a hot job market, which Silicon
Valley has been for quite a while now, the better, more experienced tech
writers frequently become contractors because they can earn more money
and gain broader experience than by staying captive at a company.
Either that or they become pubs managers and hope that they get stock
options and a decent retirement plan.