Re: Technical Review Guidelines

Subject: Re: Technical Review Guidelines
From: "Porrello, Leonard" <leonard -dot- porrello -at- COMPAQ -dot- COM>
Date: Fri, 11 Sep 1998 11:14:05 -0700


Your idea of a tech review guidelines signoff sheet is excellent, and I
really like the second to last item (about technical accuracy). And along
with encouraging you to implement such a document, I'd caution you on the
tone you use. In general, your document reminds me of one of the first few
syllabi I created when I was teaching freshman composition--terribly
patronizing. It is full of imperatives. If I gave your document to the
highly pressured developers with whom I work, I think that I'd be run out of
the project at the end of my contract (if not sooner).

Instead of telling your tech editors what they need to do, tell them what
you need. Instead of "Never just leave a question mark in the margin," you
might say: "The tech writer needs clearly explained edits. If you leave just
a question mark in the margin, for example, the tech writer will likely not
understand what you are trying to communicate." Of course, if you take this
line, the error lies in appearing to be too needy.

As I see it, we are getting information that we need from tech editors; they
are giving to us something that we can not (for whatever reason) get by
ourselves. They have the answers and, therefore, the power, and unless you
want to get into some funky, coercive dynamic, imperatives just won't work

Leonard Porrello
Compaq, Telecom Network Solutions
Pubs, Omaha

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