Re: I'm a coder and you aren't, Nyah!

Subject: Re: I'm a coder and you aren't, Nyah!
From: "Walker, Arlen P" <Arlen -dot- P -dot- Walker -at- JCI -dot- COM>
Date: Thu, 12 Nov 1998 09:35:39 -0600

This is a software company, and we live and breathe code. And
somehow, some writers of code think that writing manuals is such an
easy thing to do, and therefore not worthy of respect. They don't
care that you spend hours translating their code into user-friendly
language. They don't care that you are the interface between them and
the outside world. All they care is that they write code and you
don't. And that hurts.

I'm someone else who's been on both sides of that particular fence. I
won't echo Jim's remarks, though I agree with him in many aspects, but
I'll toss out a few other thoughts on the same subject.

A secondary reason they think writing manuals is easier than coding is
that you're working in your native language; good coding requires fluency
in a second language, and quite often it requires thinking in bizarrely
convoluted ways to produce good, tight, high-performance code. Yes, in its
way it's just another form of audience analysis, but as writers we have
the advantage that our audiences are, at least nominally, human.

And one other reason that hasn't been touched on, except peripherally:
they are united by the simple common bond of their profession, and it's a
natural human tendency to think in terms of "us" and "them." Before anyone
rises to protest, do a minor amount of research. I don't think a day goes
by that someone on this list doesn't complain about an SME, a boss, a
consultant -- if you'll excuse the grammar, a "them." We do it all the
time; we have no grounds to complain when another group does it as well.

We have common experiences and viewpoints which bind us into a We. So do
they. Just as you're excluded from their group, they are excluded from
yours. Just as they can't fully appreciate your travails, you cannot fully
appreciate theirs. The best you can achieve is a bridge of friendship
across the gap. And, given the nature of programmers, that may take a
while. (A line from a recent episode of "Hyperion Bay" comes to mind:
"Someone the *programmers* think is anti-social? This I gotta see!")

Have fun,
Chief Managing Director In Charge, Department of Redundancy Department
DNRC 224

Arlen -dot- P -dot- Walker -at- JCI -dot- Com
In God we trust; all others must provide data.
Opinions expressed are mine and mine alone.
If JCI had an opinion on this, they'd hire someone else to deliver it.

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