Re: Developers

Subject: Re: Developers
From: Scott McClare <smcclare -at- DY4 -dot- COM>
Date: Thu, 17 Dec 1998 11:59:59 -0500

> -----Original Message-----
> From: Leona L. Magee-Dupree <leona -dot- magee-dupree -at- CCBCC -dot- COM>
> To: TECHWR-L -at- LISTSERV -dot- OKSTATE -dot- EDU <TECHWR-L -at- LISTSERV -dot- OKSTATE -dot- EDU>
> Date: Thursday, 17 December, 1998 8:02 AM
> Subject: Developers
>
>
> >I gave a copy of instructions to a developer and the developer
> ignored the
> >instructions and changed the sentences from active to passive. The
> >developer tried to edit the documentation. What does a technical
> writer
> >have to do to get feedback about the accuracy of a document and not
> "tid
> >bits" of how to write from someone who does not know how to write?
>
At a previous job, when we passed a copy of a document for a technical
review, we included a cover sheet with instructions that made it
abundantly clear that *technical* accuracy was sought. The unstated
subtext of the instructions was "we don't tell you how to design, so you
don't tell us how to write." That was a few years ago; if I remember
correctly, we started passing those cover sheets around because of one
or two engineers who decided they were better stylists than the
information developers.

>Why do developers do this?

Some of them probably think the subject matter ought to be worded in a
certain way after years of reading similar material that was written
*by* developers. It's also possible that they've misunderstood what
you've written and tried to make it clearer, or so they thought.

>How should we react?

Diplomatically. 8-) In my experience, if I had the assurance of the
developer(s) that the information was accurate as presented, their noses
didn't get out of joint if I didn't incorporate their proofreading. I
have encountered one engineering manager who refused to sign off a
document unless we reworded it to his specifications - if my memory
serves, my manager took matters into her own hands and got him to change
his mind. I'm guessing she wouldn't have signed off the edits...

Take care,

Scott
--
Scott McClare - Technical Writer
DY 4 Systems Inc., Kanata, Ontario, Canada
(613) 599-9199 x502 smcclare -at- dy4 -dot- com
Opinions are my own

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