Written by Zee Zolnay
Tech writers produce many kinds of documents from manuals, guides, notes and most everything else in between. Most are straightforward and get out the door on time, on budget, with pretty good quality. However, there are “those” documents that just make you wonder. More than a few of us have other, more descriptive and endearing names for these types of documents. Do any of these sound familiar to you? Are you working on one now?
Looks like hell, but keeps rising from the grave. Continued work on this document WILL eat your brains.
Crisis du(h) Jour
Due yesterday, highest conceivable priority requiring total departmental flail. See “fire drill,” and “running around like a chicken with its head cut off.”
Dropped Hot Potato
Yesterday’s Crisis duh Jour, today’s back burner. May be cancelled altogether tomorrow – or not. Sometimes these documents morph into Zombies (see above).
Followed by a long chain of “one more changes” (OMCs), slowly altering the document beyond recognition.
Mutant Alien Document
Generated by a renegade organization. At first glance, it looks like it was based on the standard template; a second look reveals vast, irreconcilable structural differences.
500+ pages, no waiting. And that’s after double-sided printing.
Full of complicated, ungrammatical passages that cannot be changed because they were agreed to by a succession of committees. It only makes sense after being translated into French, then back into English.
It reads like it was written by Jar-Jar Binks, then edited by Yoda. May cause you to have laboured breathing like Darth Vader.
Zee Zolnay. 2013.