Online groups, spring 2009

Security clearance

One member applied for contracts that required job candidates either to have security clearance, or to be 'willing to undergo clearance'. Because he did not have security clearance, he was rejected. He asked why advertisers write 'or willing to undergo clearance' if they reject candidates who do not have it. A respondent said that some recruitment agencies asked him how much time he needed to get security clearance. They did not know that you have to be sponsored by the client.

The Cabinet Office wants job candidates to be vetted after they are selected for jobs. The only exception is if a job is short term. For more information, see the following web pages:

Online communities

One organization wants to establish an online community that contains web pages such as 'About us', a forum, announcements and photographs. The people in the organization are not technical. Therefore, the software must be simple.

Joomla! ( is an open source content management system that is moderately easy for non-technical people to learn. To make a website secure and friendly to search engines, add some of the free or low-cost extensions. Some extensions are excellent, and others are low quality, therefore choose carefully. To help to create the online community, install the free Fireboard discussion forum. Make it private as part of a member group, or public.

Ning ( is moderately easy to use but, possibly, has too many options.

Management commitment to TC

Some senior managers do not invest in technical communication. What can technical communicators do to make them understand that it adds value to a product?

One member explains to managers that a customer's opinion of a company is dependent on both the equipment and the manual, which together are the product. Good equipment is no use if documentation is low quality, because customers cannot use the equipment correctly. In his previous job, he got a 300% increase in resources. In his current organization, initially the technical author role was hidden in an administrative department but now technical authors report directly to senior management.

Another member uses the message, 'we are the interface to the interface'. He has good relationships with senior sales people. The technical authors maintain some documents specially for the sales team, and they proofread and offer suggestions on marketing material. Sales people come to the technical authors for product information. A community website for developers contains the works of the technical authors and of the research and development team. The people who set up the software are dependent on the documentation, and the technical authors get good feedback from them. Managers see the technical authors talking to people, meeting deadlines, and helping the business.

Video for user assistance

One member wants to make short videos as part of an online help system. Members gave these comments:

One member supplied a list of websites:


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