5 things your technical writer isn’t telling you


You can learn a lot about an organization when you develop their project documentation. In my time, I’ve had the benefit of working with a lot of smart people and even more people who thought they were the smartest person in the room. When you dig into project features, then the fun begins as the dynamic between engineering, product management, sales, and the executives can make or break a product and gamble with the future of the company. How folks answer questions remains a fascination to me.

Technical writing can also be a real interesting venue for observing ego and human nature.

Here are some more things your technical writer or requirements analyst isn’t telling you:

  1. If you fessed up and told me your product is vaporware, I’d be OK about it and could offer you some appropriate documentation and communications options that can satisfy (y)our potential customers or venture backing to give you and (y)our management team some breathing room. Just be honest with me and we can come up with a professional solution. However, you seem to think you are fooling me and many others. If I know you are full of s**t, then lots of other people sense the same thing that I do.
  2. While I am not an expert in the technology, I know you don’t know what you are talking about when it comes to the intricate technical details. If you aren’t fooling me, then who are you fooling?
  3. I am keeping a lot of project meeting notes. You’d be surprised how much you contradict yourself outside of those meetings.
  4. You danced around my technical questions. I played it off, so you could save face. I kept asking you the questions because I knew you couldn’t answer it.
  5. You don’t know as much about our technology as you portray. Your lack of technical knowledge isn’t a bad thing. However, you make it suck because you aren’t willing to sit down with the people who know and educate yourself about technology. Your underlings are willing to help if you would only ask. You can’t hide forever.

Will Kelly is a technical writer and analyst based in the Washington, DC area. He has worked with commercial, federal, higher education, and publishing clients to develop technical and thought leadership content. His technology articles have been published by CNET TechRepublic, Government Computer News, Federal Computer Week, Toolbox.com, ZDNet.com and others. Follow Will on Twitter:@willkelly.

An earlier version of this post was published on willkelly.org

Image by Thomas Martinsen via Unsplash.com

Will Kelly

My name is Will Kelly. I’m a technical writer and content creator based in Northern Virginia. These days I write a lot about cloud computing and DevOps. My articles have been published by TechTarget, Samsung Business Insights, TechBeacon, CNET TechRepublic, and others. By day, I work in the corporate growth group of a large systems integrator. At night, I do circuit training, then go home and write more. Follow me on Twitter: @willkelly.

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