Re: Defining your role

Subject: Re: Defining your role
From: The Tech Writer <techwrtr -at- CRL -dot- COM>
Date: Tue, 3 Dec 1996 13:00:07 -0800

On Tue, 3 Dec 1996, Ginna Watts wrote:
> I would like to update the reference guide, create a context sensitive help
> system, and design a user guide.

Sounds like a LOT for a single tech writer to do (but, of course, this
depends on the size of the documents, whether the content will change
with the move to the new formats, whether the document files convert to
the new word processing program, etc.).

> The manager told me yesterday that I need
> to 'bring the programmers and customer support people on board.' To that
> end, he has asked me to write the 'definitive documentation on
> documentation' (yes, that's a quote). In other words, defend my existence
> and job to the rest of the team. That is (i.e.? ;), I am to write out a
> description of exactly what a tech writer does, what the difference between
> user and reference guides are, how online help differs from an electronic
> manual etc. When it is complete, I am to give it out, and then make a
> presentation to the rest of the team.

Well, it sounds like you're being required to write a book. When you're
done writing this document, maybe you can sell it to a publisher?

But really, it sounds like you're being asked to do someone else's job.
While you should be able to explain to someone what a tech writer does,
I don't know that this is necessarily something that should be expected
of you, especially since being a tech writer means different things in
different companies. You probably don't *know* what being a tech writer
for you company means. It may encompass many tasks that are handled by
others in larger corporations (such as project management, document
archiving, working with a print shop, and so on).

Also, if the company doesn't know why they hired you, how should you know
why they hired you?

I apologize for my 2 cents not having a suggestion for a course of
action, but I do agree that the request you refer to is out of the ordinary.

-David Castro
techwrtr -at- crl -dot- com

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