A disturbing conversation about documentation

From: Sean 'Captain Napalm' Conner <spc_at_armigeron.com>
Date: Wed Apr 12 02:37:05 2000

  While not exactly on topic for this list, it does have some relavance I
think. I just got done talking with a friend about the lack of
documentation in this industry. I mentioned the arguments I thought for it:
the ``our competition will steal our ideas'' or ``our hardware/software is
so bad we don't want anyone to know about it.''

  My friend had another reason: companies are afraid to release
documentation because most of it is inaccurate, incomplete, confusing, or
just doesn't exist within the company. Or their products use third party
vendor parts that themselves, are not documented or require thick layers of
NDAs to even see (``I work here and I was told to get a copy of our business
procedures.'' ``Are you a manager?'' ``No. I'm an engineer.'' ``Then I'm
sorry, but you are not allowed to see our business procedures.'' ``But I
work here!'' ``I'm sorry, but they're proprietary, and with proper
management approval, you can't have them.'' ``But I was told I have to
follow them!'' ``Yes, you do.'' ``But what are they?'' ``I'm sorry, but
that's proprietary information.'')

  My friend even went on to relate a story that happened within his company:

        FRIEND: Yes, I'd like to use our XYZ chip.

        COW-ORKER: I'm sorry, but the engineer responsible for the XYZ chip
                died last year and no one knows how it works or even how to
                make it anymore.

        FRIEND: There was no documentation?

        COW-ORKER: Hahahahahahaha! You haven't worked here that long, have

  -spc (We're doomed! We're doomed I say!)
Received on Wed Apr 12 2000 - 02:37:05 BST

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