Writing question

Amy Speed speed at PARADIGMTECH.COM
Thu Nov 11 22:52:55 UTC 1999

Right on! I couldn't have said it better myself. The advantage of an English
expert writing a manual as opposed to a computer expert is that we are
trained to write at a user's level (usually 6th grade reading level). We
have been trained in audience, grammar, and organization, the 5 Cs, etc.
Hey, an computer geek can tell you what Java script is ... but can they
explain it so you can understand it?


-----Original Message-----
From: Mike Salovesh <t20mxs1 at CORN.CSO.NIU.EDU>
Date: Thursday, November 11, 1999 3:05 PM
Subject: Re: Writing question

>Amy Speed wrote:
>>P.S. Some tech writers are computer science graduates, rather than
>English graduates. Without trying to step on anyone's toes, a company >will
usually benefit more with an English expert than a computer expert >as a
tech writer. Are the reasons as obvious to you as they are to me?
>Since I don't know which reasons you see as obvious, let me put one out
>there for people to stomp on:
>When computer experts write about computers, they tend to assume that
>their audience shares their knowledge of computers.  They tend to
>conclude that there is something wrong with the intelligence of anyone
>who can't understand their technicalities, rather than providing
>information the non-expert reader needs and lacks.  An English expert is
>much more likely to consider the needs of the reader rather than the
>technical but irrelevant implications of the computer problem as ding an
>In my experience, almost every original equipment manual in the computer
>world suffers from the same flaw.  When you're trying to solve a
>problem, the manual is useful only ex post facto.   The only people who
>can understand the manual are those who already know how to do what the
>manual says it's trying to explain.  I thought that manuals would best
>serve their purpose if a neophyte could understand them.  Unfortunately,
>the only hope there is of understanding most manuals is through solving
>problems by some means other than reference to the manual.
>"RTFM" doesn't make sense when the one who wrote the manual can't write
>in terms a newcomer can understand.
>I wouldn't be happy if English majors with no training in computers
>tried to create an operating system I would have to use on my computer.
>Why should I be forced to accept the impenetrable muddles written by
>computer geniuses with no knowledge of writing?
>-- mike salovesh                    <salovesh at niu.edu>
>PEACE !!!

More information about the Ads-l mailing list