Re: Seeking critiques on updated Web site

Subject: Re: Seeking critiques on updated Web site
From: "Chuck Martin" <cm -at- writeforyou -dot- com>
To: "TECHWR-L" <techwr-l -at- lists -dot- raycomm -dot- com>
Date: Wed, 24 Mar 2004 08:47:56 -0800

"M Page" <mpage -at- csl -dot- co -dot- uk> wrote in message news:233371 -at- techwr-l -dot- -dot- -dot-
> On a quick read through, some of the language seemed a little too erudite
> and leisurely: IMHO techwriters should avoid anything that risks
> the stereotype of being over-educated, arty, pedantic, intellectually
> intimidating, or in love with their own words.
While I kinda of understand the attitude behind that thought, I disagree
with the concept--at least the "over-educated" part because there is no such
thing. Or are you saying that people prefer hiring under-educated people?

I'm reminded of the West Wing storyline where the character of President Jed
Bartlet is preparing to debate his Republican opponent. Bartlet's character
is painted as being very, very smart, having won a Nobel Prize in Economics,
being able to quote Bible verses, and speaking in multiple languages,
including Latin. An argument is being made by his staff if he should exhibit
his intelligence in the debate. The argument goes along the lines of the
American people will be turned off by any display of smarts. But that
argument is eventually rejected. People who aren't going to like him because
he's smart won't like him anyway, so there's no reason to not be the best he
can be. After all, isn't the best what we really should want, especially
with the president?

> Some people may well feel that using a techwriter is an admission of
> failure - after all, everybody else can knock out a manual "with one hand
> tied behind their back", can't they?

No, they can't. Someone suggested recently that if confronted with such a
statement, an appropriate response would be along the lines of "OK, go
ahead. I'll watch."

> Though highly educated and intelligent, potential clients may also feel
> insecure about areas outside their speciality. For example, a prospective
> client of a friend of mine asked in nervous jest, "Will you be like my
> English teacher, and send back the original manual covered in red pen?"
> More importantly, they'll want to feel that they can comprehend the
> enough to control it - that you won't baffle and bamboozle them with
> words.
Clients in almost all cases don't understand the arcana of writing code or
setting up test plans. Yet they have no qualms about hiring the best people
to do those jobs. Why should the discipline of technical communication be
any different?

OTOH, if you're baffling and bamboozling your client with "clever words,"
then you're not an effective communicator, hiding your shortcomings with
word tricks, and thus aren't one of the best. Whether or not you're (and I
should note this is an editorial "you," not a personal one) the best person
for the particular job could be open to question, but then again, maybe the
clients are getting what they pay for.

Never be ashamed of being highly educated and intelligent.

Chuck Martin
User Assistance & Experience Engineer
twriter "at" sonic "dot" net

"I see in your eyes the same fear that would take the heart of me. The day
may come when the courage of Men fail, when we forsake our friends and
break all bonds of fellowship. But it is not this day! This day, we fight!"
- Aragorn

"All you have to decide is what to do with the time that is given you."
- Gandalf


ROBOHELP X5 - ALL NEW VERSION. Now with Word 2003 support, Content
Management, Multi-Author support, PDF and XML support and much more!

Now is the best time to buy - special end of month promos, including:
$100 mail-in rebate; Free online orientation on content management
functionality; Huge savings on support and future product releases;
PLUS Great discounts on RoboHelp training. OFFER EXPIRES March 31!
Call 1-800-358-9370 or visit:

You are currently subscribed to techwr-l as:
archiver -at- techwr-l -dot- com
To unsubscribe send a blank email to leave-techwr-l-obscured -at- lists -dot- raycomm -dot- com
Send administrative questions to ejray -at- raycomm -dot- com -dot- Visit for more resources and info.

Previous by Author: Re: Some of us are victims and some aren't (was Re: Tech writers, comments about.)
Next by Author: Re: teaching technical writing to engineers
Previous by Thread: Re: Seeking critiques on updated Web site
Next by Thread: RE: Re: Seeking critiques on updated Web site

What this post helpful? Share it with friends and colleagues:

Sponsored Ads