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5:11 PM
@Standback - I came across this question, about managing a library of graphics for a technical writing project. It's old, but it's been brought up in that meta thread of good questions. I see you mentioned in the comments that you think it's on-topic, may I ask why?
 
5:41 PM
@NeilFein: Sure.
Technical writing - the profession - is on topic here (same as, say, journalism, editing, fiction author, etc.).
Management and organization techniques for tech writing are on-topic, same as management and organization techniques for fiction writing.
Of course, tech writing to has a lot more to manage. But that's only to our benefit - it makes for clear, interesting questions, that are unique and inherent to the on-topic field of tech writing.
Nobody else needs to manage that kind of detail. It's an expert question.
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Holy crud! I didn't even know the History.SE had gone into commitment!
That's AWESOME! That'll be priceless for writers!
 
6:15 PM
@@writers.stackexchange.com/users/1993/… (See above, we're discussing a question of yours for illustrative purposes; at the moment, we're not going around and closing old questions.)
@Standback - I think it's a very well-asked question, and is quite clear. However, I don't think it's on-topic, and here's why:
The question is about managing a media library, in this case screenshots and other graphics. While the project its for is a technical document, the question really doesn't get into much about the actual writing itself.
I'm seeing this as analogous to the bike touring discussion on Bicycles: If the question is about aspects of touring involving actual riding or support for riding or planning for riding (or the bike), well and good. If the question is purely about, say, camping, which is an integral part of touring, it's off-topic and would be closed.
So we might want to come up with a similar test, going forward.
(Follow me along this garden path?)
If it involves the writing itself, it's on-topic. (Of course.)
If it's a support activity for writing - tools, language (barring exceptions in our FAQ, like proofreading and single-word requests that belong on EL&U) - then its on-topic.
However, something like how to use photoshop or InDesign to make a book jacket is off-topic, and would be gently migrated to Graphic Design.
Similarly, this question is really about tools and systems that have nothing to do with the actual writing; it's a document management question.
In reality, were it asked now, I'd suggest that the question author make the question more oriented towards writing. A simple "How can I make this easier for my writers in their workflow" would do it. But that's besides the point.)
So, what do you think? If we're reasonably close in outlook here, or if we can tweak this and agree, I'm thinking let's put it up on meta for comment and revision from the community.
 
7:04 PM
@NeilFein No problem; I brought it up, after all. :-) Thanks for the link here from meta.
We get time-management and planning questions and those aren't about the writing itself either, so it's ambiguous now. How would we handle a question from a journalist about maintaining his leads/informants so they keep helping him?
Just to be clear, I was uncertain when I asked whether it would be deemed on-topic, and I'm still not certain. Not defensive, just seeking some clarity.
 
 
2 hours later…
8:51 PM
@MonicaCellio - Good points. A journalist's sources allow them to write stories. Figures and illustrations in a tech manual allow for the writing to be less wordy. (Imagine explaining everything in a screen shot in words.)
 
9:10 PM
@NeilFein And while I didn't make this clear in the original question, the screen shots have text implications -- you usually don't just have a screen shot, but rather a screen shot and text that talks about the options or what you can do with that tool or whatnot. If a screenshot has to be updated you have to look at the places where that image is used, but finding those points is easy (in my case just grep the source for the file name).
Finding the screen shots that have to change because the UI changed is much harder.
 
9:27 PM
@MonicaCellio - That's pretty important, and in a future question I'd try to bring that out.
And it does make this a lot more relevant to writing.
Do you want to edit that into the question? (The downvote is mine, and I'd like to be able to remove it.)
 
10:08 PM
@NeilFein Sure, I could do that -- I guess it wasn't as obvious as I thought it would be. (In a few hours; gotta run right now to a meeting.)
 
10:54 PM
@NeilFein @MonicaCellio : I understood Monica's intention from the original question. I think it was clear - though, unsurprisingly, the more familiar you are with the field, the more clear the relevance is; that's a general "issue" with SE - it's harder to moderate in areas you don't know well.
Neil, you've got to consider what tech writing is - it's the collection, organization, and presentation of technical details in a useful manner.
Organization and maintanence are crucial - they're not tangential concerns. Other fields certainly also need to organize information, but the necessity of keeping up an accurate collection of dozens of different types of information across multiple projects and interacting in every which way, but still needs to be kept perfectly understandable to the average reader... that's a tech writing issue.
Now, I hear your concern about that being kind of far from what you see as the site's "core business."
It is very distant from writing prose.
That's why there was a big split; that's why we've seen very eloquent explanations about how there's not really any common ground between fiction writers and tech writers.
I'm definitely open to the idea of splitting back up, since I think tech writers are underserved by Writers.SE and are likely to continue to be.
But as long as tech writing is on topic... we need to know that tech writing isn't just about sitting down and writing.
 

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