RE: Squashed ego--techwriter syndrome?

Subject: RE: Squashed ego--techwriter syndrome?
From: SLHOLLAND -at- micronpc -dot- com
To: Brierley -at- Quodata -dot- Com, techwr-l -at- lists -dot- raycomm -dot- com
Date: Wed, 6 Oct 1999 09:17:20 -0600

Sean Brierley said:

(snip) I just finished a project . . . three books (two small) and online
help. The project manager fired off an e-mail genuinely thanking everyone
their effort and specifically thanking me for "beautifying" the
documentation. I'm, er, not entirely happy with that.

Two other people responded by saying "at least you were recognized publicly"
and that Sean is being "overly sensitive."

I disagree. Sean has a legitimate right to be offended when someone reduces
his work to "beautifying" documents. However, I do agree with the suggestion
that Sean reply to the project manager.

Part of our jobs as technical communicators should be to perform public
relations and education tasks. This includes recognizing opportunities (such
as when someone thanks you for "beautifying" a document) in which you can
honestly (not sarcastically) say thanks for the compliment and then include
a few sentences that restate exactly what you did for the project.

For me, this includes using the lingo other people use in my department. For
example, I work in an Information Technology (IT) Department, and a large
part of the staff is computer programmers who prefer to call themselves

In the past, I would have said we "write" online help. Now, however, I say
we "develop" online help. It's a true statement, especially when I consider
the fact that some of the programmers occasionally contact my group of
technical writers for help with JavaScript and HTML.

I rarely refer to what we do as simply "documentation" because in our IT
department, "documentation" usually means documents other people write, such
as requirements documents, design documents, project sign-off documents,
etc. Instead, I refer to our products as online help, Web help, technical
documentation, user documentation, Web sites, etc. Our company is focusing
heavily on e-commerce, and the word "Web" is highly respected around here.

My continual public relations/education campaign for my group (along with
behaving in a professional manner, refusing to be a doormat, and hiring
top-notch employees) has earned us greater respect over the years, regular
training, and a higher salary scale.

Stephanie Holland
Technical Communication Manager
Information Technology Department
Micron Electronics (Nampa, Idaho)
mailto:slholland -at- micronpc -dot- com

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