Re: Writing vs. Testing

Subject: Re: Writing vs. Testing
From: Rebecca Merck <Rebecca -dot- Merck -at- ONESOFT -dot- COM>
Date: Mon, 24 May 1999 10:59:16 -0400

I agree that the focus of a tester and a technical writer has overlap, and
some skills in common. However, in my experience with this, what I've found
is that the writers are not asked to come in to design testing, to organize
testing, or to in any way apply their intuitive skills to testing -- they're
being asked, as Fred was, to come in and provide grunt labor to follow a
pre-determined script. And providing grunt labor in this fashion does NOT
take advantage of my skills, and my skills do not better prepare me for
following the script.

And when I have served as a tester in that capacity, not only was it
unbelievably dull, it put me off my own deadlines AND it did not,
ultimately, improve my familiarity with the application.

However, as a part of writing, I *was* able to identify issues NOT spotted
by the designed tests, and agree with EVERYONE who has said that tech
writers provide as a side-effect of their efforts, a valuable second type of
testing, much more akin to usability testing.

However, if I thought it were the best use of my time to run pre-designed
scripts, I continue to contend that I would have applied for a job in QA --
since my career goals are to develop documentation, the fact that this task
prevents me from performing the core of my own job, I think it's
contradictory to "borrow" tech writers for the purpose.


-----Original Message-----
From: Anthony Markatos [mailto:tonymar -at- hotmail -dot- com]
Sent: Saturday, May 22, 1999 4:01 PM
To: Rebecca -dot- Merck -at- ONESOFT -dot- COM; TECHWR-L -at- LISTSERV -dot- OKSTATE -dot- EDU
Subject: Re: Writing vs. Testing

Rebecca Merck wrote (in response to a question asking if TWs need to be
software testers):

And let's be honest -- if I wanted to be a tester, I'd have applied for a
job in QA, right? The skill sets are different, the professional
experiences are different, and the best of tech writers without a QA
background is the lowliest of testers (as Fred experienced).

Tony Markatos responds:

I disagree. The primary task of a (software) technical writer is to gain a
clear, concise, and systematic understanding of the essential tasks that the

end user performs with the application. This is exactly same as the primary

task of a end user software tester. The skill sets (and experiences had in
obtaining such skill set) are the same. A technical writer with this skill
set will be the highest level software QA person.

Tony Markatos
(tonymar -at- hotmail -dot- com)

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