Do you believe the content you get sent from SMEs?

I have to admit that I am always a little sceptical about content, and try (as much as I can) to try and check sources, and generally learn about/validate the content I am sent. Do you see this as part of your role as an Instructional Designer?

Some thoughts at

Oh yes...while I remember...what ARE the 3 primary colours?

11 Replies
Cary Glenn

I've seen a couple of things that make me pause.

One  is when  the standard operating procedures of a piece of equipment don 't match up with the manufacturer's manual. In this situation I get someone with the proper authority (Director, Engineer, VP) to sign off that the operation doesn't comply with the manual and that the company's procedures are safe and reasonable.

The second is when practices don't comply with Health and Safety regulations. This Ione I go to the safety department and to senior management about. Practices that don't comply with OHS/OSHA are a serious matter and must change.



Ashley Chiasson

When I worked within the Defence sector, I always cross-referenced my SME input with the technical pubs, but it was more of a verification process. However, unless the client is paying me to vet their SME's content with additional research, I take the SME content for what it's worth, even if it seems questionable, and rely on the SME picking up their mistakes in the initial review.

Matthew Bibby

I agree with Ashley on this one - unless specifically asked to verify the information, I work under the assumption that I am being told the right stuff. Due to the fields that I work in, in many cases it is very difficult to verify that the information is correct without a huge amount of disruption/delay.

I have a clause in my contract that clarifies it's the client's responsibility to ensure that all information and documentation is correct and up to date and this is something that I specifically discuss with them before starting.

Cary Glenn

I've run into SME's who don't follow the torque values. "This is the way we have always done it", type attitude. I've also had SME's, and entire departments, misuse air monitors, putting people at risk.  At the time I was developing training while working within the safety department so I had to make sure that people were doing things safely, and we were trying to change the safety culture of the company.

Matthew Bibby
Nancy Woinoski

I have some very strong opinions about this topic but the short version is that I always vet everything and often rewrite it as well. I never work under the assumption that I am being told the right stuff.

I shouldn't have used the word assumption in my post above as it implies that I just take the information at face value - which isn't the case. I'm clear with the client that I rely on them for providing up to date, correct and complete information but I will highlight any inconsistencies or flag anything that seems out of place to me. 

If I was knowledgeable about the subject matter, in many cases I could add more value by vetting and rewriting, however, most of the development I'm doing at the moment is for complex topics that I know little about. 

Steve Flowers

Lots of great discussion here. In your post, Bruce, you call into question the primary colors. And the answer is - it depends:) Red, blue, and yellow are primary for additive applications. Cyan, magenta, and yellow (most of the time it's CMYK, with black) is for subtractive applications. This means that each color will subtract from white on the print medium. 

So both answers are right, though RBY is more typical in traditional applications (paint, for example). Been around a lot longer than CMY.

I like to validate stuff through multiple sources, especially if it's setting off my this doesn't make sense(s). Most of the time the SMEs I've dealt with know their stuff. Sometimes too well. It helps to ask clarifying questions - to "why the crap out of it" and to validate the answer.

Bruce Graham

Steve :)

I stand corrected, and hoisted by my own proverbial petard!

So, basically, I made a post/blog article about some things not being factually correct before checking that my facts were, in fact, factually correct. They appear to be incorrect. I think.

I am now going to lie down for a rest.., (but I still recommend checking content!)