Re: Post-its for Online Reviewing

Subject: Re: Post-its for Online Reviewing
From: Alexia Prendergast <alexiap -at- SEAGATESOFTWARE -dot- COM>
Date: Tue, 14 Oct 1997 09:03:17 -0400

Excellent advice from Stuart -- nothing contributes to a
less-than-stellar review as much as handing 10 people a stack of
hundreds of pages and saying "review this."

As he said, specialise. Or, you can specialize, too. :-^ Generally, I
stagger technical reviews by sending out each chapter for technical
review to the developer responsible for that area of the product and to
the product manager. I give them about a week. I incorporate their
comments as I receive them. When the whole book is ready, I give it to
the product manager and the project manager to whip through for the "big
picture", since by that time, the book is pretty darned accurate. At the
same time, I send it out to be edited. Each person involved understands
exactly what I expect of them. (I learned this lesson the hard way once
when I sent a book out for technical review and, instead of reviewing
the book for technical accuracy, the developer rewrote each sentence in
the passive voice. I've never seen so much red ink in my life ;-) One
thing I do want to do more often is peer reviews. I don't want to create
a morass of procedures and red tape, but I do want writers to see each
other's work -- not to compare writers, but rather to help maintain
consistency and to come up with ideas to make our collective docs

In addition to formal reviews, I let folks know that I want to hear any
idea they have about the docs at any time, so I get emails quite
regularly from development, tech-support, and other writers who are
using the docs. I also encourage our customers to send suggestions,
though I think we need to start being more aggressive about getting
feedback from customers.

I think there are two elements to a successful review.
1. Be specific about what you want done and by when.
2. Look forward to criticism, rather than get defensive about it. If a
reviewer makes several suggestions and you counter each with "but, I did
that because... and I did this because... and I thought... ", that
person will either be hyper-critical next time or, worse yet, won't
bother at all. Be a professional, be appreciative, use your judgement,
and choose your battles carefully.

Goodness. Guess I should add a </soapbox> ;-)

Alexia Prendergast
Tech Pubs Manager
Seagate Software (Durham, NC, USA)
mailto:alexiap -at- seagatesoftware -dot- com

> -----Original Message-----
> From: Stuart Burnfield [SMTP:slb -at- FS -dot- COM -dot- AU]
> Sent: Tuesday, October 14, 1997 3:40 AM
> To: TECHWR-L -at- LISTSERV -dot- OKSTATE -dot- EDU
> Subject: Re: Post-its for Online Reviewing
> Specialise. Don't have two or more colleagues review the whole
> document
> looking for the same things.

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