Society for Technical Communications Membership.. Yea or Neigh?


#1

Hi Folks,

Hello! I am new here and look forward to learning from you and sharing my experience with the hope I can contribute in some small way.

I have been a Technical Writer with a Software Development Background for almost 20 years with such companies as IBM and Sony and currently for the last five years, I’ve been with the U.S. Department of Defense as a Technical Editor/Writer.

I first joined The Society for Technical Communications (STC.org) a couple of years back in order to access it’s professional development programs, and bolster my credentials. However, I have not yet renewed my membership for 2017 because I am struggling to see where it “adds value”.

I would love to read your opinions about STC.org, and look forward to any suggestions you have about how an STC membership has benefited you.

Very Respectfully,

William


#2

So, full disclosure, I’m the faculty advisor of the student chapter at my University, but I’ll try to be as fair and balanced as I can.

What I tell the students is that, for them, membership can get them plugged into a professional network sooner, which can provide a lot of resources that can help make it easier for them to navigate their entry into the working world,

As an academic, it’s a place to publish and, as such, they have a good collection of recent literature on technical communication from professional and academic realms. Membership provides access to this resource.That would be a way to keep up on things (as the articles are pretty contemporary) while you’re between work.

However, as a professional, they’ve not done a good job in marketing their benefits, so it’s value seems to depend more on the vitality of the chapter. They are pushing certification, but that hasn’t broken out of the chicken-and-egg cycle (Certification has little value until it’s recognized and it’s not recognized unless it demonstrates some sort of value). I’m not convinced that certification is the future of tech writing, but I could still be convinced.

From what I’ve seen, if you’re in an area with an active chapter, it could provide you access to people who can help grow your network. If your local chapter is not particularly active, or not particularly local, it might be harder to justify.


#3

Thanks for the response Bob. Much Appreciated.

V/R

William


#4

I originally became a member of the STC national organization in 1998. In 2015 I decided to not renew my membership. The dues were increasing at the same time that I perceived a decreasing amount of value in the national organization of the STC.

Happily one does not need to be a member of the national organization to attend chapter meetings. So regularly attend STC-San Francisco chapter meetings. In fact I’m a chapter volunteer: I update the chapter’s Web site and the STC NorCal group on LinkedIn with meeting notices.

The point being that I perceive value in the local chapter. But I no longer perceive value in being a member of the national organization.

By the by, note that if you have access to a decent public library system that you may be able to use the library’s online periodicals database to access the STC’s publications…

Cheers & hope this helps,
Riley
SFO


#5

The STC was an essential resource before Craig’s List, LinkedIn, Salary.com and others started offering the same and better services for free.

Since then, STC’s membership fees have gone way up as the value of membership has declined to pretty much just whatever the local chapter offers. And local chapters often let non-members go to meetings.


#7

I agree that there’s a lot of “it depends,” largely on your local chapter and what you’re looking for. I was a member years ago, and served as a competitions judge in the local chapter, then let my membership lapse. I rejoined last time I was job searching largely to access the jobs database and salary surveys.

I’ve continued my membership for professional development – namely, the local chapter’s annual conference and the society-level webinars. I have undergrad and grad degrees in tech writing, so I have no interest in the certificate – I’m usually looking to keep up with trends or to brush up on a specific area.

As a lone writer in a startup, I do appreciate the camaraderie (although that’s less uniquely valuable as I’ve found other tech comm communities online).

Sharon


#8

Attending local chapter meetings (which you don’t have to be a member to do) is valuable. If you expect to hire more tech writers and don’t have a good pipeline of candidates, attending STC conference or local chapter meetings can help you network. Speaking at local chapters can help you build public speaking and presentation-writing skills, and it’s nice to share with your professional community what you’ve learned.

I am disappointed with National STC fees (why so much more than IEEE?) and lack of acknowledgment of those of us on the West Coast, and find I can get all the things mentioned above from Write the Docs. But I have met a lot of cool people through local chapters, and will probably drop in on them a few times a year until they kick me out for being so negative about National…

Mysti


#9

“I’ve found other tech comm communities online”

Sorry to resurrect this thread, but I’d love to ask for some examples! I’m trying to search for tech writing communities in google (hence how I found this) but I’d love to find more, or know what is best or most active.


#10

@zquaitte - I reread the thread and thought about your specific question re: other tech comm communities (which is related to this thread’s title about STC membership, but doesn’t directly apply). What comes to mind are [sorry for the code font for links; the forum wouldn’t allow more than two]:

  • LinkedIn groups – There are many writing, communication, and tech writing ones; as well as specific tools-focused ones.

  • TechWR-L - An old listserv that now has a ton of resources on its website, http://www.techwr-l.com/; the actual discussion list, http://www.techwr-l.com/about-technical-writing-discussion-groups.html, seems less active than a few years ago, likely because several frequent posters have semi-retired.

  • Tools-focused forums (on the websites of their vendors/OSS projects).

  • WTD (Write the Docs) – Where you asked this question :slight_smile: The WTD Slack channel (http://www.writethedocs.org/slack/) is a lot more active than this forum, but conversations are deliberately not archived.

  • STC SIGs – Special Interest Groups that by their non-geography-focused nature are online communities. Here’s the list: https://www.stc.org/communities/.

    That said, the activity level varies greatly by SIG. And like all professional organizations (whether OSS or vendor focused), they’ve all seen declining participation for quite a number of years, due to lots of demographic/societal reasons that have nothing to do with the STC in particular. But the members who do participate are extremely generous and helpful.

    (I credit a lot of my business success to the Consulting and Independent Contracting SIG, and a lot of my writing and tools expertise to the Lone Writer SIG. But although both SIGs were extremely active with experienced professionals when I needed them back in 2005, many have since retired, and the email lists are barely active now.)

  • Distance/remote learning education – Although likely these live only for the duration of the class, and speaking to the all-students-concurrently-in-the-virtual-classroom style (not the independent model where you listen/read/take tests anytime), writing/technical/tech writing classes would certainly make up an online community where everyone has at least one shared interest

  • (Soon?) Meetups – More and more meetups (not necessarily just WTD, but all sorts) are streaming their presentations live, and more and more people are asking for that. And given that even Skype provides live two-way video/audio, I can’t see why more meetings can’t be made useful to both remote and onsite attendees. But as this isn’t the norm now, I’ve labeled it “Soon?”

  • (A stretch) Conferences – Although generally targeted for in-person participation, the delay in live presentations and posting said presentations online is ever decreasing. So although not a community in the usual sense of real-time interaction, there are often follow-up opportunities for people with shared interests. But I haven’t actually seen this happen, so I’ve labeled it a “stretch”.

Hope this sparks further replies from the hive mind!
-Monique


#11

I think Monique covered the bases very well. I’m on TechWR-L, several LinkedIn groups, WTD (especially via slack), and STC SIGs.


#12

Thanks, I appreciate it!