Re: Checking the checkers through inaccurate information

Subject: Re: Checking the checkers through inaccurate information
From: Will Kelly <willk -at- TIAC -dot- NET>
Date: Wed, 8 Jan 1997 20:26:04 -0500


I can speak as both a technical writer and a technical reviewer. Sitting in
both chairs has given me some perspective as a technical writer. I have
technical reviewed training guides and some third-party computer books.
>This sounds all too familiar. For time to time I put a little
>documentation joke in my draft intended for a technical review.

Your little "documentation jokes" are wasting somebody's time. That person
often times is somebody who has probably put in a full 8 hour day and still
has to read your document. As a technical reviewer, I have encountered such
"documentation jokes". Upon each encounter, the "joke" lowered the writer's
credibility in my eyes as a professional and a team player. I made sure
that I noted such jokes and that my client or manager was made aware.

>1. Would you consider this unethical or underhanded? (I have a pretty
> good reputation with these people for a solid final product, so I
> have a little more leeway here. I'd *never* try this with a new
> client.

It is unprofessional. Is your good reputation with a manager who is never
around or with the person who has to trod through your "documentation
jokes"? As a writer, I like to add value to the team. As a reviewer, I like
it best when I am dazzled by the writer who has really made the effort to
produce a class document draft.
>2. If you did do this sort of thing, how to handle a "miss?"

I would never do that sort of a thing. I like to be trusted by my co-workers.
>3. Any other, perhaps more up front, methods for checking the checkers?

Try to write up your expectations for a technical review. While
documentation may never be as high on some people's prioirity as the
writer's, some people just don't know how to review a document. This is
your opportunity as a technical writer to educate your co-workers and not
make them the butt of your jokes.

Will Kelly Freelance Writer * Technical Editor * Consultant
mailto:willk -at- tiac -dot- net

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