Writing vs. Testing

Subject: Writing vs. Testing
From: Fred Sampson <wfreds -at- CRUZIO -dot- COM>
Date: Fri, 21 May 1999 09:54:37 -0700


Although I have years of writing and editing experience, I'm new to tech
writing, and still feeling my way into the profession.

At my first official technical writing job, I was to write online help for
accounting software written in FoxPro 2.6. However, for four of my seven
weeks on the job, I was asked to alpha-test the latest module. Originally,
support techs were supposed to do the tests, but weren't as "up to speed"
as I was. I received little direction--one test script, one set of sample
data, and was told to keep doing it over and over, and report the bugs.
When I mentioned that I found this monotonous testing mind-numbing, I was
shown the door.

So, my question is: Can a technical writer (especially a newbie) reasonably
expect to perform alpha-testing assignments? I understand the need to learn
the new software by using it, which can include testing, but is this the
major part of the tech writer's job?

I'll appreciate any comments you folks might have on this.

Thank you,

Fred Sampson
wfreds -at- cruzio -dot- com

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