Re: Finding the Right Technical Writer - a URL

Subject: Re: Finding the Right Technical Writer - a URL
From: Sella Rush <sellar -at- APPTECHSYS -dot- COM>
Date: Mon, 15 Mar 1999 19:32:20 -0800

(I probably wouldn't have contributed to this thread, but I really hate it
when someone posts about a web site, book, article, etc., they found
interesting and others take it as a license to nitpick and belittle the item
into the ground. Maybe it's just me, but when reading an article such as
this, I find it much more constructive to pick out the useful information
and disgard the rest rather than the other way around.)

I found this brochure interesting, and got something out of the percentages.
I did not assume that the goal of the percentages was to "score" or rate an
applicant--thereby allowing an applicant to score a "C" (80%) without being
able to spell.

I believed that the numbers were there to provide comparative information,
to demonstrate what the author believes constitutes a good "blend". Looking
at the point of the brochure--to help employers find the kind of tech writer
they want--it was saying "here are 5 things to look for in a tech writer"
and by weighting them it was saying "all of these things are equally
valuable/necessary in a good tech writer, except vision is slightly more
important than the others and tool knowledge is slightly less important."
If all the categories had been 20%, then I would agree that the percentages
were useless.

I saw lots of other good things about the brochure--for example, by
(hopefully) helping employers widen their expectations of a tech writer, the
employer is less likely to view (and pay) the writer like a not-so-glorified
typist. I thought the questions were good because they were worded in a way
to make the employer think about what kind of answers they're looking for
without dictating the author's opinion about what the "right" answer should
be. I definitely liked the "Don'ts" because--I agreed with all of them.

While I thought all the Blend categories made good points, I probably would
have organized them somewhat differently. For example, I didn't understand
the Aptitude category. I didn't get the first bullet and couldn't relate it
to the second bullet (about adapting writing styles), which I probably would
have listed under writing.

I also note that the author does not mention planning, budgeting, or
scheduling. This is interesting in light of the fact that in a recent
thread (the 5 Cs) a number of people placed timeliness and meeting deadlines
at the top.

Overall, the brochure provides some good information and doesn't appear to
do a whole lot of damage to the prospect of tech writers in general. If I
were doing a similar brochure for my clients, I'd willingly steal from
(errr--give due consideration to) the points made here. (That's a joke.
Really.)

Sella Rush
mailto:sellar -at- apptechsys -dot- com
Applied Technical Systems (ATS)
Bremerton, Washington
Developers of the CCM Database

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