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Comment Re:hire a Technical Writer (Score 1) 401

I have taken Tech Comm. coursework at the grad level. I did not graduate with a Master's in Technical Communication. I do, however, have a Masters in a different field of study. I am only saying that the graduate coursework you speak of is not merely a practice in "academic writing." I am explaining to you that topics are studied more in-depth, but you deny this curriculum is of any relevance. You believe that any undergrad can do the job and do so effectively. I simply disagree with that assessment, which seems to stem from what seems like a serious bias on your part. The fact that you call them the "academic elite", for that matter, seems to suggest that they are all a bunch of scholars who really know very little about how to actually produce documentation, since they are "trained to write academically." All I'm saying is that you should study Technical Communication at the graduate level before leveling such a biased opinion at the field or disqualifying the validity of a degree that is higher than your own.

Comment Re:hire a Technical Writer (Score 1) 401

You don't have to take a class in Calculus to learn about Calculus either.
I'm not saying font readability is something that undergrads are never taught. Some, I'm sure, are taught about readability. But a great deal of undergrad study is spent teaching the basic methodology of correct writing. I am certain that grad coursework involves more in-depth analysis. In other words, the WHY of it is more closely studied.

Comment Re:hire a Technical Writer (Score 1) 401

Heh heh. I'll chalk it up to the poor font. Perhaps Slashdot needs to hire a Technical Writer to suggest more legible fonts for posts, especially for people like myself who have learning disabilities.
I will again disagree with the notion that your typical undergrad has the knowledge required to produce quality products. Sure, they can write. They can even do it well most of the time. But these students rarely have the advanced expertise of a grad student. As always, there are exceptions and YMMV. A few Technical Communications courses here and there are hardly enough to make you a good Technical Writer. But if you want to believe that, go right ahead. Perhaps the items you produce are part of why there is a misconception about qualified Technical Writers?

For example: a course in Framemaker does not make one an expert at writing user manuals that use cross references. Sure, any Frame student will know HOW to produce them, but will they know how to manage them long-term? And we all know most shops don't follow the rules we learned in skool. As for on the job training, well, that's not what we're talking about at all, as any job carries its own requirements and methods and no amount of schooling ever seems to be just right.

Comment Re:hire a Technical Writer (Score 1) 401

You answer your own question: most writers are poorly trained. That is, an undergrad IS poor training, most of the time. Sure, it's enough to get you thinking you know how to write in the field, but it's barely enough for truly advanced work. The subject of Calculus may not be too advanced for a student of Pre-Algebra, but it is highly unlikely that same student will be able to fully grasp Calculus without the advanced training and coursework required. But hey, Calculus for Dummies exists, right? And if I read it and grok it, I might think I know what it all means, but that hardly makes me a qualified Calculus practitioner. I use the term theory as a rough equivalent to the canon of study provided by most grad degrees. No, the simple rules about when to use serifs or non-serifs are not what I'm talking about, entirely. More specifically, I'm talking about the study of why fonts are more legible than others. Sure, it gets touched on in undergrad studies, but the real WHY of it is reserved for higher levels, rather than the simple WHAT you might learn as an undergrad.

Comment Re:hire a Technical Writer (Score 1) 401

Certainly, there are basic fundamentals that English undergrads can attain in writing; clear, concise language is one of those basics. But I would not expect an undergrad to be well-versed in the nature of which fonts improve readability for people with learning disabilities, best practices of manual writing, special necessities of localization, and other things of that nature. Your aversion to the word "theory" betrays a certain hatred toward academic study that is not well informed on the subject.

Comment Absolutely (Score 1) 763

The problem is that you don't always get what you pay for. For example, if you go see a movie for $10, you can count on sitting through roughly an hour and a half of film, whether it's quality or not. But when you buy a game, sometimes for upwards of $50, you can't be sure that it will be any good. In fact, it may barely be playable at all. And it might be short or have an inordinate amount of difficulty that makes playing it a chore. Now, I don't even buy games until I see they have super high scores on sites like Metacritic, and then I only buy them if the doodz in my clan are interested. That means I buy about 1 game every couple of months. Developers either need to lower the cost, or raise the standards. I'm talking to you, WII developers!!!

Comment Re:hire a Technical Writer (Score 1) 401

I partially disagree. Namely, those who study Tech Writing at the graduate level are expected to become knowledgeable about the theory involved in producing clear documentation. It's not about "doing advanced coursework." It's about furthering your knowledge of the proper methodology, or about learning how to teach it to others. Sure, you can learn the basics of writing as an undergrad, but you are only touching the top of the proverbial iceberg.

Comment Re:There are degrees for this (Score 1) 401

No, a programmer is a programmer. A Technical Writer is a Technical Writer. While a programmer can be taught to produce clear documentation, s/he is not qualified to produce good technical writing. Just like I wouldn't expect a coder to be a great graphic artist. The two are apples and oranges. Sure, a coder could make something passable, but if you want a polished product, hire an expert. You may see it as a time sink to include a Technical Writer, but s/he would ultimately save you time by a. editing the documentation your coders produce and b. presenting the documentation in a precise, consistent fashion. No two people write the same, much less write well.

Real Programs don't use shared text. Otherwise, how can they use functions for scratch space after they are finished calling them?

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