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Subject:Posting Guidelines -- Newly Revised From:Eric Ray <ejray -at- IONET -dot- NET> Date:Mon, 20 May 1996 11:32:58 PDT
revised: 1/96, 4/14/96, 5/8/96, 5/10/96
GUIDELINES FOR POSTING MESSAGES:
You are in a large lecture hall full of people in your profession.
Included in the audience are students, educators, professionals. You
cannot make out their faces, but they could reasonably include your
employers or potential employers, your coworkers, and the ever-present
violently obsessive technical writing groupies.
Most of the audience members sit quietly as one member at a time gets
up, walks to the podium, and shares information or advice or asks
questions. Some of it is rich and detailed, some cursory but helpful,
some trivial but relevant in a roundabout way. Somewhere in this stream
of information, someone expresses an opinion or gives a piece of advice
that you feel obligated to respond to.
You get out of your seat and walk to the front of the room, everyone's
eyes upon you. ...
(Listowner's note: At this point, the paths may diverge. Some of
the following unfortunate cases have been played out over the past
A) You approach the podium, clear your throat, and say "Me,
too." You are greeted with a combination of quizzical, patronizing
smirks and incredulous silence.
B) You relate that really good joke about Microsoft and operating systems
that you overheard at the restaurant last night. Some laugh. Some
wonder why you just now heard it. Many wonder why you'd use their chance
to discuss technical communication to tell a old joke.
C) You take your turn at the microphone to clarify a point. One of the
previous speakers had mentioned, in the context of developing and
using context-sensitive, interactive help files, that they used
MS Word v3.0. Obviously, that's incorrect, therefore you clarify
that they MUST have used a different version because that one didn't
even exist. Not only that, but the incompetence of anyone who could
make such a mistake is certainly astounding. It only takes you about
10 minutes to impress upon everyone that you know far better than
the speaker what versions of Word exist. (You don't make any points
about the issue at hand, but your audience has already made their
assumptions about your knowledge in that area.)
D) "Does anyone know how much the cheapest Internet service provider in
As you walk back to your seat, you try to make out the faces around you.
(Thanks to Lisa Higgins for this scenario)
WHAT TO POST
* If it is about technical communication and of general
interest, post it.
* If it is about technical communication and original and
humorous, post it.
WHAT NOT TO POST
* If it doesn't relate to technical communication,
don't post it.
* If it is a personal message to a single subscriber,
don't post it. Even if mail to that person bounces.
* If you aren't sure, don't post it.
* If it relates to language use but not technical
communication, it probably isn't appropriate.
Don't post it.
* If it continues an irrelevant thread in any way
(rebuttal, rebuke, rerun, revision, remark), don't
* If it is something cute, interesting, or funny that
you found on the Internet (e.g. Dr. Seuss on Tech
Writing, origin of spam), don't post it. I assure
you that most readers have seen it already.
* Please make sure your E-mail address is included in
the body of the message you post to the list.
* Please don't inflict LONG ads disguised as signatures
on the rest of us. Trust me, they're not effective at
anything except making you look silly.
* Please don't quote extensively/excessively from other
messages. Just include enough to provide context.
* Direct all commentary about this message to my
address, not the list.
Eric J. Ray ejray -at- ionet -dot- net
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