ADMIN: About the list

Subject: ADMIN: About the list
From: "Eric J. Ray" <ejray -at- RAYCOMM -dot- COM>
Date: Sun, 19 Oct 1997 08:33:34 -0600

Michael said:

>As a rather new subscriber to the list (albeit a tech communicator from
>way back), I appreciate the opportunity this list gives us all to
>explore a lot of issues. One thing about the posting rules that I think
>is a little unclear: it seems we can post stuff about language and usage
>only if it bears directly on tech writing. In my view, this is an area
>intimately tied up with audience analysis, and we need to stay abreast
>of -- and even vigorously debate -- questions of new and changing
>vocabulary, Br/Can/US spelling, etc. Is this a majority view, and is it
>acceptable to the list owner?

To supplement Michael Uhl and John Posada's
(completely on target) comments:

If there's a clear and explicit connection to technical communication
(and err on the side of making the connection over obvious),
nearly everything is OK.

My objective is to keep us focused on technical communication
per se, rather than digressing into linguistics, language
history, or pure grammar (or, for that matter, into Windows
tech support, Microsoft bashing, or Internet 101).
While all of these topics obviously
have their components that directly affect professional
tech writers, it'd be a stretch to see how Chomsky might
impact the day-to-day deadline-driven life of most of us.

I think much of the confusion about topics stems from two things:

* Just because it's likely interesting to many technical communicators
doesn't mean it's about technical communication or appropriate
for the list. For example, Safire's classic about language
(Don't use no double negatives, etc.) is interesting to nearly
everyone who works with words for a living. But it's not about
technical communication and not appropriate for the list.
(Of course, as it's a copyright infringement whenever posted
on the 'Net, it shouldn't actually be posted anywhere.)

* Just because you use something in the course of your
job as a technical communicator doesn't mean it's about
technical communication. Few people on the list would
dream of posting a question about using the office fax
machine--and for good reason. Ironically, many
people post questions about their office email systems.
(Go where the information is. If it's a fax machine question,
ask the person in the office who generally uses it. If it's
an email question, ask the person who supports your email
in the office.)

That said, I do think that there's quite a bit of room for
expansion in the topics we address on the list. Contrary to
popular opinion, the list is not just for computer-related
technical communication. Medical, scientific, PR/MarCom,
engineering/etc. communication would all be appropriate
as they all fall under the rubric of technical communication.

My two cents,

Eric J. Ray ejray -at- raycomm -dot- com
TECHWR-L Listowner

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