Re: FWD: Not Wanted--Technical Writers

Subject: Re: FWD: Not Wanted--Technical Writers
From: Bruce Byfield <bbyfield -at- AXIONET -dot- COM>
Date: Wed, 17 Dec 1997 20:53:37 -0500

Tracy Boyington <tracy_boyington -at- OKVOTECH -dot- ORG> wrote:

>Well, let's see... I just got back from lunch, so it's been at >least an hour since I read the article, and here's what I >remember: Technical writers are bad -- what they write is >long, boring, and hard to understand. Especially if they've >been doing it for 10-15 years.

Well, the tone of the article was rather obnoxious, but it's true that
both the audience and the standards for technical writers has changed
tremendously in the last 15 years.

For instance, to give one peripheral example, one writer I know who has
been 20 years in the business ignores all design questions. He can still
get work because he's established.

Another writer has been 10 years in the business. He needs to know more
about design, but only in passing.

By contrast, to establish myself in the last two years, I've had to
delve deeply into design.

The same change could also be traced in writing styles. Tech-writing is
increasingly aimed at a general, non-technical audience, so of course
the standards change.

Also, to be brutally honest, as a contractor, I've cleaned up after
countless pieces of shoddy work, and seen many other examples of writing
that I personally consider inadequate. What's more, many of the writers
of these inadequate efforts are prominent teachers or STC leaders, and
are teaching outdated standards to newcomers.

Bruce Byfield, Outlaw Communications
(bbyfield -at- axionet -dot- com) (604) 421-7189 (Updated December 13)

"Granite Years
Harbour lights, city nights and bitter tears
And you don't care where you're going,
Say that I was foolish,
Say that I was blind
Never say that I got left behind."
--Oyster Band, or

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