Re: Writing vs. Testing

Subject: Re: Writing vs. Testing
From: Bob Gembey <bob -at- SUPERNOVA -dot- NL>
Date: Tue, 25 May 1999 10:17:31 +0200

Actually, a newbie is probably the best alpha-tester there is. Who else is
capable of performing a monkey-test on a product, other than a monkey?
They're the only ones who are going to try the unexpected actions and
combinations that the designers didn't foresee.

I've always compared the job of a technical writer to a canary in a
coalmine (no, not because he's expendable) -- if there's something we don't
understand or we can't get to work, then probably the intended users won't
be able to get it to work. But if we can explain it so that we ourselves
understand it, then so will the users, especially of specialized products,
where the intended users are specialists in their fields, and are usually
are more knowledgeable than we are about it.

And, since we are perhaps not familiar with the product, if we can get it
to work, then there must be a certain degree of intuitiveness in it.

<<So, my question is: Can a technical writer (especially a newbie)
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?>>

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