One example: The organization set up a bunch of mailing lists for particular interests, then didn't bother to train the moderators in how to run an Internet mailing list, how to handle the mailing list members, etc.
I remember seeing email in all capital letters. C'mon: if you're a technical writer, you should know where the caps lock key is.
I remember seeing email asking how to unsubscribe; the mailing lists were set up using listserv, and each email had a footer giving the basic commands for subscribe/unsubscribe. C'mon: if you're a technical writer, you should know how to RTFM. (Even if you don't know those listserv commands by heart, which I do.)
I remember seeing email asking why the user was receiving email from the list. C'mon: you asked to be subscribed.
At least, I did. But I got off that mailing list fast, because neither the users nor the moderator knew what they were doing, a very bad sign among ostensible technical writers, who should have known the etiquette and use of Internet mailing lists by, oh, 2000 or 2001, when all of this happened.
Anyway, today's email from the local STC chapter pointed to the chapter newsletter, which is on their web site.
I took a look. You could say I have a few beefs with what I found.
- The newsletter is posted as a PDF, a notably unfriendly format on the Web.
- I'm just guessing that the newsletter is published with FrameMaker, the technical writer's best friend. You can create HTML with FrameMaker, using a program called WebWorks. For that matter, you can create HTML with Word (crappy though the HTML will be) and with Arbortext Epic. Or someone the STC might know Dreamweaver.
- There's an article in the newsletter on web usability! I had to laugh, considering the PDF.
- Apparently it is the most recent article in a series, but you can only tell by reading the article. It's not labeled 3 of 5 or Part III.
- The capitalization of that article's title is eccentric: "Web usability" is on one line, "How Not To Do It" is on the next. There is no style guide in the world that recommends capitalizing "to" in a header, or putting half a title in sentence case and the other in title case. (Shoot me now: I hate sentence case in headers.)
- There are lots of URLs in that article. None of them are live. PEOPLE! You can put live URLs in a PDF!! Don't you know anything about Acrobat???
- Oh, wait! They ARE live links. It's just that they're the same color as the running text, so you have to guess that they're live.