Re: Not Wanted--Technical Writers

Subject: Re: Not Wanted--Technical Writers
From: Alexia Prendergast <alexiap -at- SEAGATESOFTWARE -dot- COM>
Date: Tue, 16 Dec 1997 13:44:28 -0500

My general reaction to the article? A gimmick that will be attractive to
non-technical readers or people who have been burned by sub-standard
tech docs (as someone already pointed out, the ol' "know your audience"
principle). And apparently, it's working. If you were running a
business, would you say, "we finally realized what good tech writing
was" or "we have a brand, new, snappy way of doing things that will
solve your problems and here's how we are different than everyone else!"

After reading the anonymous reply (below), two main thoughts came to
mind:
-Not enough writers--or people, in general--know how to say "no"
effectively.
-When a plain "no" is inappropriate or not possible (because of
politics, for example), there are often other alternatives.

For example: Some mucky-muck reviews a doc and decides information X
should be in the doc. The writer knows it doesn't belong there. Instead
of "well, that's a dumb idea," try "I see your point... how about if
we...." and then offer several suggestions that are acceptable to you.
The reviewer gets to make a decision, but you are controlling that
decision. (This is my standard damage-control tactic.)

Every now and then, you've got to accept a decision with which you don't
agree. In those rare cases, I document my recommendation (a little CYA
goes a long way) and then make the change.

I may sound harsh, but I find it hard to believe that writers are so
much more helpless or victimized than other professionals. (Disclaimer:
Again, as I've mentioned, it happens to everyone *sometimes*.)

*Am* I being too harsh?

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

> -----Original Message-----
> Forwarded anonymously on request:
>
> I hate this field sometimes. And this article just makes me feel
> worse. How DARE these people force me to create documentation that I
> am downright ashamed of, then blame ME for it?
>

http://www.documentation.com/, or http://www.dejanews.com/



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