Do you consider the skill level of your audience when you write? What skill level do you target your blog towards? Do you think your audience reflects that?
Level of Expertise
9 responses to “Level of Expertise”
When I design knit patterns, I write for a skill level below mine. I explain even the dumbest things. Because there is always that one person that will be confused. I try to be considerate that way. As far as my blog…I pretty much write like I talk. I am not sure that is a good thing or a bad thing. It just is…
Good question. It’s challenging to make a tutorial post suitable to everyone. I’m not an advanced subject matter expert on any of my crafts, though I do make a lot of things, some of them complex, and I do write in depth about how I’ve done many of those things. I don’t tend towards writing tutorials because, while I really appreciate them, I feel they present the info from an expert to a learner. In my craft posts, I position myself as a learner who’s already accomplished the activity, who can help other learners because I’ve succeeded in the challenge and can articulate my experience. I don’t think it matters at what level you share info. It will help a cross-section of knitters. As long as you provide something for everyone in various posts, you might as well enjoy teaching what you like at the level you prefer, IMO.
Since I talked to you yesterday about how I never comment on your blog, here I am now!
I get a little annoyed when patterns are written for a super-beginner. Like, here is how you make one! Maybe because I don’t closely follow patterns all that often (I always adjust the bust size and waist shaping [and often gauge!], and usually only use cast-on numbers and a chart if there is one)? I prefer the simplest pattern possible — cast on, knit 1×1 ribbing for 3 inches, switch to stockinette and work for 18″ — you know. But I am ornery.
Long-winded and poorly written! #englishmajor to the rescue!
I think part of this depends on whether we’re talking about a free tutorial/pattern or a paid version. Definitely, with a free tutorial, certain assumptions can be made about previous knowledge. With a paid pattern, I would say it’s best to make things as plain as possible. And like Lauren says above, don’t explain the easiest of techniques. If nothing else, pointing to a reliable online source to explain things is acceptable.
I think the most important thing is that the tutorial and/or pattern be written clearly enough to answer the basic questions (like, what is the gauge?) and approachably enough that those with questions will feel free to ask.
This is a tricky question, because while I can understand have lots of details on how to do certain stitches, it’s also annoying to go to print a pattern and find it is more than 4 pages long. There is also the odd relationship between free patterns and questions for support- I find that you get a lot more questions about basic techniques on a free pattern than you do on a ‘paid for’ pattern, which likely speaks more to the knitter, as knitters who are willing to pay for a pattern are often more experienced and confident in approaching a pattern that might have a couple new tricks in them. As a knitter, I really like stitch counts- I like having overall stitch counts whenever a section of increases or decreases is finished and I’m about to move on to the next part of the knit.
Ah technical writing, it’s a black art. Stating the assumptions you’ve made about skill levels upfront is a good first step to guard against people getting confused. After that, it’s all about aiming to be as clear as possible in as few words as possible.
This document, ‘Helpful Hints for Technical Writing’, illustrates the principle very nicely: http://www.wssa.net/WSSA/Pubs/HelpfulHints/0801.pdf
I agree with the more info in free vs paid pattern as it’s always the free patterns that the less experienced/technically minded people knit (my MIL is a classic example of this!) and you don’t want to be dealing with lots of pattern support for a free pattern.
When pattern writing, I aim for an audience a little less experienced than I am but try not to be too ‘wordy’ – including links to more involved techniques (i.e. provisional cast ons, etc) rather than explaining it in the pattern.
Though, I find it frustrating when patterns don’t give enough information. I am entirely capable of figuring it out but sometimes just want to knit a pattern without having to think about it!
Another thing that annoys me is when there are several ‘intro’ pages – i.e. explaining the layout of the instructions, how to modify the pattern, how to substitute yarn, etc, etc – I prefer compact instructions so I don’t have to first decide what pages NOT to print (font, size and layout also play a part in this!)