ADMIN: Why the Listowner's Such a Jerk, Again

Subject: ADMIN: Why the Listowner's Such a Jerk, Again
From: TECHWR-L Administrator <admin -at- RAYCOMM -dot- COM>
Date: Tue, 15 Dec 1998 08:17:14 -0700

For those of you who wonder why the Listowner is such
a jerk about staying on topic and about not posting the
"I could look this up but it's easier to post it" messages,
not to mention about not posting messages to the list
that should be sent offline (like, oh, I dunno, maybe 100+
messages listing degrees earned), I submit a message from
my inbox. I'm forwarding it to the list with my comments
and the explicit permission of the original poster.

As a whole, I agree with the sentiments expressed,
particularly the points about meatier subjects that
don't generate nearly the intensity as "this is my
degree" topics. I'm posting this now in hopes that a different
voice will be a little more effective at communicating the

Lines with > are from Brian, lines without are from me.


>Date: Mon, 14 Dec 1998 10:05:39 -0500
>X-Mailer: Internet Mail Service (5.5.2232.9)
>you can post the message and use my name. I hope it does some good. As I
>said before, I like the idea of what you're doing.

I'd appreciate it if you'd let me post your message--verbatim--
either with or without your name. You very effectively articulate
my thoughts on the topic. TECHWR-L falls far short of its
potential sometimes (and apparently this week is at the
low point). There's a lot that could/should be discussed,
but it's not happening.

MHO. Thanks for sharing your thoughts, and please
do let me know if you'd permit me to post
your note. (No, I wouldn't have punted you for
it; actually, I'd have thanked you. I'm not the unreasonable
ogre I'm often portrayed as...)
<snip ejr>


> At 12:54 PM 12/11/98 -0500, you wrote:
>You asked why I am unsubscribing, well here it is...
>The manuals I use on a day-to-day basis (possibly written by the same
>authors of the email I've been getting all morning), are in general poorly
>written. Content is all over the place, information is missing, etc...there
>seems to be a genuine lack of understanding by professional IT tech writers
>on how to put together a manual (I include MicroSoft in this as well as
>other large software corps-- I hope I am not one of these, but who can say).
>I thought that others would share my concerns over the alarming state of
>documentation in the industry. That everyone would be talking about it and
>trying to find solutions. I thought I would get ideas from other IT writers
>in the industry, the ones who are putting these docs together and who know
>they could do better. What they did wrong, how they would do it better next
>time, etc... information that I've thought about and would be glad to
>share... as well as receiving thoughts and ideas on that subject that I
>could use to build an understanding to better produce documentation as ell
>as using these ideas as a spring board to evaluate my end product.
>This is not happening at all.
>If the object of tech writers were to get people to drive cars, everyone on
>this list seems to be focused on which way to brush the carpet for the
>showroom car. Nothing about the car itself. "a" or "an" SQL? Check a style
>guide. Hyphenated last names? Even if you get that wrong that's not why people
>don't read manuals.
>Frankly, my concern over improper grammar rules pales when compared to the
>dearth of critical information that, even when it is included, is poorly
>structured in professionally created manuals. It seems that the community
>doesn't see a problem with the state of documentation that is produced by
>the industry, or accepts the substandard level and opts for superficial band
>aid solutions that are less painful to face and easier to implement.
>If I were to stay on your list I would have soon become frustrated and
>violated a whole slew of your posting rules by probably posting this exact
>letter, and what for? To get 4000 subscribers angry with me and me kicked
>off your list? I'll leave first.
>I think your list is a good idea, but not the way it's being used at this
>Bryan Zako
>Documentation Department
>Raymark Inc.
><bzako -at- raymarkx -dot- com>

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

Syndicated columnist: Rays on Computing
Technology Department Editor, _Technical Communication_
Co-author of _Unix Visual Quickstart Guide_, _Mastering HTML 4_,
_Dummies 101: HTML 4_, _HTML 4 for Dummies Quick Reference_, others.

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