Tech writers: The bard class of the corporate world

In D&D and related role-playing games (Dungeons and Dragons, and yes, I’m going full geek), the Bard character class gains a ton of skills: They’re a bit fighter, a bit thief (or rogue, if you prefer), and also have a bit of magical ability.

The point is: They’re flexible. They’ll never hit as hard as a fighter, aren’t as sneaky as a thief, and won’t cast as many spells as a wizard. But because they don’t specialize, they’re useful in many situations, and they’re often an asset to adventuring parties.

Lots of skills, very versatile, an asset to their team…just like technical writers!

Ok, I sense your doubt. Let me explain.

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Using humor in your documentation. Or not.

Tom Johnson wrote a great post about user manuals, and wondered whether a bit of humor would help keep a reader’s attention, and make them more willing to read (and follow) help instructions. I have complex feelings about that, and I’ve been able to argue myself into agreeing and disagreeing with the use of humor in help documentation.

Is the possible benefit of adding humor to documentation worth the cost?

Continue reading “Using humor in your documentation. Or not.”

Why isn’t the documentation team part of customer support?

I’ve been a tech writer for 18 years, and I’ve worked for half a dozen companies as a full-time writer or doc manager (which has meant “full-time writer who also helps other writers clear roadblocks”). In all that time, I’ve never been a member of the Support team.

From my experience, and from talking to other tech writers, we’re almost never part of Support. But that’s exactly where we should be!

Possibly. At least I think so.

Continue reading “Why isn’t the documentation team part of customer support?”