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Persuading reviewers to review
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reviewers to review
Persuading reviewers to review
by Geoff Hart
Previously published, in a different form, as: Hart,
G.J. 2000. Getting reviewers to review. Intercom,
There are many touchy-feely, New Age ways to persuade
reviewers to review your documentation. Sadly,
none of them work. In the week before the review is
due, you’ll pass by their offices to check, and the
well-fed spiders that have turned your documents into
web hosts bear ample witness to the fact that nobody’s
even glanced at the docs. If you really want to get
the reviews on time, you’re going to have to
apply a little pressure. A few suggestions:
- When the reviewers are away from their desks,
launch their personal information manager
and add a reminder that the review is due. Set the
reminder to pop up every 15 minutes until the due
date. Few will know this software is on their machine
(often in the form of Microsoft Outlook), and thus,
they won’t know how to turn off the reminder.
Rather than calling technical support for help and
blowing their technogeek reputation, most reviewers
will find it easier to complete the review and beg
you to turn off the reminder.
- About 3 days before the review is due, wander
by the office of a delinquent reviewer. Lurk
in the shadows until the reviewer appears lost in
thought, then sneak into the office, slam
your hand on the desk, and shout "which part of 1 week did
you fail to understand?" Substitute a a
baseball bat (or hockey stick, if you’re Canadian)
for larger, more truculent SMEs. Warning: Don’t
try this on reviewers with potentially weak
- Visit the reviewers, bringing your chair, and
park yourself at the edge of their peripheral
vision. ("Don't mind me; I'll just make myself comfortable
until you've finished the review.") Neglecting
to bathe for a few nights enhances the persuasive
power of this tool, as does whistling the
same song endlessly and tunelessly.
- Page the reviewer on the company-wide intercom. “John?
It’s Geoff… remember that review you
promised me? It’s still not in yet. Any chance
of returning it this millennium?”
- Kidnap a favorite cubicle toy and leave a ransom
note pasted together from miscellaneous
words cut from previous versions of the documentation.
(If necessary, use a recent issue of
Dr. Dobbs’ Journal. Be
warned: this may inspire reprisals.)
The ransom? A complete and satisfactory review.
- Inform each tardy reviewer that everyone else
(except one other guy you don’t name) has already
completed the review, and that their manager is wondering
what’s up with these two delinquents. Odds are,
anyone who investigates and finds another reviewer
whose review isn’t done will think they’re
talking to that mysterious other person.
- Hire a performer in an outrageous outfit to deliver
a singing telegram. Closer to Fine by
The Indigo Girls is strangely appropriate.
on a tight budget, singing only one stanza
should suffice: “I spent four years prostrate
to the higher mind, got my paper and I was free”.)
Bill this expense to the “development” budget;
it’s never audited too closely.
- Use Marketing’s tabloid-size inkjet printer
to create “Wanted” posters that you can
hang in the cafeteria. Include scanned photos
of the malefactors, and offer a hefty reward (e.g.,
pizza and beer) for anyone able to coerce them to
complete the review.
- If the reviewer has an office with a door, enlist
the rest of the documentation team and
about twenty small coins (pennies are traditional).
While everyone else leans on the door, trapping the
reviewer in the office, press the pennies into the
gap between the door and its frame, beside the handle.
When you can no longer insert another
penny, only superhuman reviewers will be able to
turn the door handle far enough to force the door
open from the inside. Offer to let the prisoner out
for a bathroom break only once the reviews have been
passed under the door.
- Suggest that you and the reviewer get in touch
with your sensitive, New Age sides and negotiate
a mutually respectful settlement about the
date and hour they’ll begin the review. If that’s
not enough to scare them, repeat steps 1
through 9, as required.
©2004–2013 Geoffrey Hart. All rights reserved