Top 10 Poll Questions of 2013

TechWhirl publishes a wide variety of poll questions throughout the year, with a couple of goals in mind: starting some conversations around topics and emerging trends, and learning a bit more about our community. In 2013 our questions ranged from topical issues being discussed on the email discussion list and community forums, to classic questions that have created debate for years among technical communicators and content pros.

So here are the top 10 questions that appeared in 2013.  All of them remain open, so if you didn’t get a chance to vote the first time around (the system won’t let you vote again), feel free to cast your ballot(s). And as always, feel free to comment on the questions and your answers.

learning_sm10.  Preferred Ways to Learn

Our current poll question is showing that a lot of us prefer a combination of ways to learn. Tell us what combination works best for you.

What's your preferred method for learning new information?

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My Name is _ web _ feature9. What is the Name of our Industry?

Maybe we’re the ultimate mashup, of people dedicated to creating and producing content across many channels, in many formats, with many different objectives. Feel free to vote, or to comment and let us know your thoughts on a name that describes our industry.

What should we call the group of companies that provide goods and services supporting the Content Management Life Cycle?

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2010-the-year-we-make-contact--sm8. The Impact of Emerging Technology

The future is already here, and it’s impacting how technical communicators do their jobs, and to a great extent what jobs they do.  We named a few key technology trends that are really coming into their own, but maybe we’ve missed one or two. Vote, and let us know how these are impacting your work.

What emerging technology or trend will change your content or processes most profoundly?

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CXM - bad service7. Does Your Company Really Care about Customer Experience?

Customer Experience Management (CXM) is an emerging professional discipline that has huge implications for our community, and business as a whole. Companies are hiring analysts, directors and officers who have responsibility for the pre- and post-sale experience.  Is your company jumping on the bandwagon? Vote and let us know whether it’s lip service or the real thing.

Does Your Company Really Care about Customer Experience?

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tech comm poll - job titles6. Blast from the Past on Job Titles

Yes, this is one of the eternal debates–what do we put on our business cards and social media profiles, how to answer the “What do you do for a living?” question. It continues on the email discussion list and community forums, and in the exhibit halls of every conference related to our industry. So what’s your take?

What job title best explains what we do as professionals?

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poll- structured authoring and web content5. Can Structured Authoring and Web Content Delivery Co-exist?

Mark Baker, Sarah O’Keefe and Tom Johnson did a little friendly sparring back in May, and of course we had to jump in with a poll question on whether structured authoring and web content can co-exist.  So far, two-thirds say they must co-exist, but only 27 percent say they already do in their organizations. Have things changed since May? If you haven’t voted, now’s your chance, and do post a comment on your experience.

Can structured authoring and writing content for web delivery co-exist in the real world today?

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technical communication poll - recurring questions4. Recurring and Vital Conversations on Technical Writing

To help celebrate TechWhirl’s 20th anniversary, we published a poll question on the big debates that have continued, and should continue, on the field of technical writing. Perhaps not surprisingly, the value of technical writers to an organization, the technical vs. writing expertise are the top vote getters.  But we found a few others in the archives, you may have some other ideas about important issues we should be debating. Please vote, and let us know your thoughts.

What is the most important recurring debate in technical writing over the last 20 years?

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continuing education3. Most Valuable Continuing Education Courses

Most of the people we know in this field have one thing in common, they love learning new stuff, especially stuff that can help them advance in their career. So we decided to ask about which courses would help the most. Right now we have a three way tie, between advanced technical writing techniques, publishing for mobile, and content strategy/information architecture. That could change, so provide your feedback when you vote.

What continuing education classes would help most in advancing your technical communication career?

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books as museum exhibit-sm2. Is the End Near for Printed Books?

Here’s one that the leading lights in most fields of communication disagree with, at least on some level. So when the issue started appearing back in August, we fashioned a poll question around the debate. Digital media, and the ability to consume them is changing nearly every aspect of our lives. But we’re curious whether the good old-fashioned printed and bound book is really headed for the museums. Vote and let us know your reasons for your belief.

Do printed and bound books have a future in modern society?

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SME-hunting-technical-writers-sm1. Encouraging SME Cooperation

One of our most popular articles was this year’s April Fools’ Day contribution from Yehoshua Paul on how the Yahoo banned technical writers from the company offices. It included the most popular poll question of the year, on ways to encourage SME cooperation in getting those technical reviews done.  A bit of silliness that has an underlying serious question about ways to get your reviewers to cooperate.  Feel free to vote.

What is your favorite method for encouraging SME cooperation?

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Drop me a note if you have some ideas for poll questions in 2014… there’s always plenty to talk about.

 

 

 

Connie Giordano

Connie Giordano is a partner in INKtopia Limited and editor of TechWhirl's Tech Writer Today online magazine. She has been a list member and contributor since the days when 14,400 baud was high speed communications, and Windows 95 was state-of-the-art.

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