Re: Not Wanted--Technical Writers

Subject: Re: Not Wanted--Technical Writers
From: Alexia Prendergast <alexiap -at- SEAGATESOFTWARE -dot- COM>
Date: Tue, 16 Dec 1997 13:44:28 -0500

My general reaction to the article? A gimmick that will be attractive to
non-technical readers or people who have been burned by sub-standard
tech docs (as someone already pointed out, the ol' "know your audience"
principle). And apparently, it's working. If you were running a
business, would you say, "we finally realized what good tech writing
was" or "we have a brand, new, snappy way of doing things that will
solve your problems and here's how we are different than everyone else!"

After reading the anonymous reply (below), two main thoughts came to
-Not enough writers--or people, in general--know how to say "no"
-When a plain "no" is inappropriate or not possible (because of
politics, for example), there are often other alternatives.

For example: Some mucky-muck reviews a doc and decides information X
should be in the doc. The writer knows it doesn't belong there. Instead
of "well, that's a dumb idea," try "I see your point... how about if
we...." and then offer several suggestions that are acceptable to you.
The reviewer gets to make a decision, but you are controlling that
decision. (This is my standard damage-control tactic.)

Every now and then, you've got to accept a decision with which you don't
agree. In those rare cases, I document my recommendation (a little CYA
goes a long way) and then make the change.

I may sound harsh, but I find it hard to believe that writers are so
much more helpless or victimized than other professionals. (Disclaimer:
Again, as I've mentioned, it happens to everyone *sometimes*.)

*Am* I being too harsh?

Alexia Prendergast
Tech Pubs Manager
Seagate Software (Durham, NC, USA)
mailto:alexiap -at- seagatesoftware -dot- com

> -----Original Message-----
> Forwarded anonymously on request:
> I hate this field sometimes. And this article just makes me feel
> worse. How DARE these people force me to create documentation that I
> am downright ashamed of, then blame ME for it?
>, or

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