(1/5 see book reviews)

Someone on Hacker News recommended this as a good book on technical writing. The title led me to believe the book would be about technical writing.

But the book is little more than an incomplete summary of documentation tools that exist:

  • GitHub wikis
  • Jekyll
  • Markdown
  • reStructured Text
  • AsciiDoc

The book only talks about the craft of technical writing briefly. The most valuable quote about writing in the book is:

Technical writers, first and foremost, are testers and researchers. Your job is to know what people want to achieve and precisely how to achieve it. Communicating that knowledge is the last step of the process and really shouldn’t comprise more than 10% of your time.

– Andrew Etter, Modern Technical Writing

How to communicate is not addressed.

This un-cited and inaccurate quote cast doubt on the author’s other sparse advice:

Wikipedia ameliorates [the problem of vandalism] with a sophisticated anti-vandalism bot that uses machine learning to improve over time.

– Andrew Etter, Modern Technical Writing

This is misleading for the following reasons:

  1. Who is “Wikipedia”? English Wikipedia? The Wikimedia Foundation?
  2. There are many bots, there is no “bot”
  3. Wikipedia’s accuracy relies on volunteers at least as much as any bot
  4. It sounds like this refers to ORES (maybe), but this isn’t what people “rely on” so much as it’s one tool among many.

The book’s primary virtue is that it’s short.


  • Title: Modern Technical Writing
  • Author: Andrew Etter
  • Pages: 35
  • Format: eBook
  • Publisher: self published (AFAICT)