Let Me Tell You About Mumpy

Let me tell you about Mumpy. I know you are all dying to know, so let me tell you a bit. I can’t tell you who Mumpy is, so let me say that straight out  and even if I could, I wouldn’t want to. Mumpy is a she – enough people have suggested this to me and when she signed her last post with a “love Mumpy” I’m sure most of the men on the list properly concluded that Mumpy was a she. So, I’ll give you that – and only that.

Mumpy came to the moderators a few years ago with a question and a request. She was frustrated at times in her job and wanted to freely ask questions without her bosses ever finding out. Mumpy is an exceptional writer and an even better person. She posts questions that some of us have. Sometimes, she intentionally posts controversial questions and wakes us all up.

Sometimes, she posts questions that seem obvious but they allow all of us to think, to express our opinions. These opinions are ones we can all use when faced with the same situation. Sometimes Mumpy knows the answer but needs ammunition to take back to her product manager, documentation manager, boss. It doesn’t matter who it is – Mumpy knows to come to the list and ask.

Mumpy is senior enough to know what a good technical writer is expected to know and do. Mumpy has a wide variety of skills and a very technical background. Don’t be fooled by those questions that seem obvious – what they do is energize her for whatever battle she fights in her job but they also energize us.

Have you ever been asked to do something beyond the clear definition of your work? When this happens, what do you do? What should a lone writer do? When you are part of a team, you consult with your peers but when you are alone…you have fewer options. This is especially true when your product manager or documentation manager is on Techshoret. And so the moderators recognized and accepted Mumpy’s request for anonymity because in allowing her to post her questions, we know that sometimes we are really allowing her to speak for many of you.

I’m glad we have a Mumpy on this list and am only saddened that I didn’t think of creating this persona myself.  Mumpy’s reasons for posting are her own and though I can sometimes guess, I rarely find her questions irrelevant. Not all the answers to the questions she posts are obvious to all, though some of us will shake our heads and remember a time when we faced a similar situation.

Recently Mumpy posed a question about being asked to do something that at first glance appeared to be outside her strict job guidelines. Many senior technical writers jumped in to explain that the request was not only reasonable but actually played right into the dream role of many technical writers – to get into the user experience better.

More than once, I have asked the list a question for which I knew the answer – but my product manager or team leader wanted to hear the voice of others to confirm what I was suggesting. The list has never failed me yet; as I believe it has never failed Mumpy.

Next time you see a post from Mumpy, understand that she can (and does) sometimes post under her real name but when she comes to us as Mumpy, she is doing it to share an important message. Each of us could be Mumpy in our jobs and feel we have a question  and not know where to turn. So please, if you think Mumpy’s question is silly or obvious – please be kind.

We are truly blessed to have this voice speak for us.