TechWhirl (TECHWR-L) is a resource for technical writing and technical communications professionals of all experience levels and in all industries to share their experiences and acquire information.
For two decades, technical communicators have turned to TechWhirl to ask and answer questions about the always-changing world of technical communications, such as tools, skills, career paths, methodologies, and emerging industries. The TechWhirl Archives and magazine, created for, by and about technical writers, offer a wealth of knowledge to everyone with an interest in any aspect of technical communications.
Subject:Re: HELP! Negativity towards the techwhirler! From:Debbie Molis <dmolis -at- MLJ -dot- COM> Date:Fri, 4 Apr 1997 11:38:54 -0500
Jennifer said: Our retail line is sold primarily to =
do-it-yourselfers with varying degrees of knowledge about plumbing, and =
these ambiguities can breed confusion; as part of my job I help take =
technical phone calls during peak hours and I've seen it happen.
I think you already hit on the most important point you're going to have to
make to your colleagues if your changes are going to be made, now or in the
future. They may not understand that editorial changes should be done for
the sake of a better document, but they should understand that a better
document will make for happier customers that continue to buy their products.
If I'm doing a do-it-yourself project, and the documentation is poor enough
that I make mistakes and create bigger hassles than necessary, I'm moving on
to another product the next time... I may be particular, but I'm sure I'm
Marketing and sales surely will understand THIS concept.
But Marketing may have a point. They planned for a specific event. And you
presented them with what they see as a very different picture. There may
not have been enough time for fully planning the changes that you made for
That shouldn't stop you from trying to proceed for the future, or even now
if necessary. If there isn't going to be another release of the
documentation for a long period of time, maybe marketing would think it's
worth it to delay the rollout and make your changes now, taking into account
the customer satisfaction in the long run. But if there's a reasonable time
where everyone feels the job can be planned for properly, maybe it should
Do a little networking. If you have a budget for it, take your colleagues
out to lunch and explain how easy it might be for a customer to make a
mistake. Provide some examples from the help desk on customer frustration.
Point out the # of calls on areas of the documentation that appear to be
poorly done. Get some staff member who has never worked with the product to
follow the documentation and then document where they're having problems; or
even better, let that person tell your colleagues in their own words where
and why they had problems with the documentation. Show them it's best for
That's how you'll get your changes made. But it may not happen overnight. It
typically doesn't. Just don't give up on what you believe is right.
dmolis -at- mlj -dot- com