Wednesday, April 1, 2009

Writing for the vacuum

I write for people I never meet and most likely never will. Of course, we have stuff such as "audience analysis" that helps us frame a mental picture of the reader we are writing for but, in reality, I write for people I never meet.
Consequently, I never get feedback from my readers. Of course, we have review rounds, and we have tech-support reading our documents and troubleshooting, and all that stuff but, in reality, the user for whom I wrote the manual never gets back to me. Usually.

This is a pet gripe of the techwriters I've met. "We don't get feedback from the real reader", is what they say.

True. But hang on! How many of us techwriters have ever given such feedback ourselves? How many of us have even bothered to look at this and give feedback:

What happened to the Do Unto Others principle? Why carp when you're also the one who cannot cast the stone?

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