Re: Tech-writing requirements

Subject: Re: Tech-writing requirements
From: Rick Lippincott <rjl -at- BOSTECH -dot- COM>
Date: Fri, 28 Jul 1995 09:04:31 EDT

Renee asked:

>The digest of July 26, 1995 included a post regarding a job for a senior
>tech-writer at Novell, in Utah. It required knowledge of C and the ability
>to read and understand source code. Is that something tech-writers do?

From my experience, it's often just a way of weeding out candidates for the
job. At my last job, it was a "requirement" but I managed to get the job
anyway. During the year that I was there, I never once had to look at
source code. At my present job, it appeared to be a similar situation. So
far, I have not had to read code, and my impression is that none of the
other writers in the group do it either. In fact, one of the first things
I looked into on arrival here was taking classes to learn about these things,
I was told "Well, you'd be better off becoming expert in Interleaf than
learning C."

About two years ago, I interviewed at a company, and listened while a
manager looked down her nose at my resume and said "Hardware writer...hmmm..
I don't see any indication that you can read code." I later learned from
people that work there that the writers rarely deal with code.

Now, I'm sure there are many writers who -can- read code, and that there
are some who do it every day. But my experience is that you actually do
it far less than is implied by the help wanted ads.

Rick Lippincott
Boston Technology
Wakefield, MA
rjl -at- bostech -dot- com

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