RE: any cons to single sourcing?

Subject: RE: any cons to single sourcing?
From: Melanie Shook <mshook -at- com2001 -dot- com>
To: TECHWR-L <techwr-l -at- lists -dot- raycomm -dot- com>
Date: Fri, 18 Feb 2000 08:44:00 -0800

<Actually, I'm not
that sure that most people even go to the documentation (in whatever form
they can get it, let alone whatever form they prefer it).>

I have to disagree with you this time. *I* look at the documentation all
the time. I've looked at documentation for several products that I use this
week: Word - told me a feature exists but doesn't explain how to use it.
Frame - I always use the print version - the online version is terrible.
I'd rather be able to use the online version in some instances, but it is
very difficult to use. WebWorks Publisher - the information is in there
somewhere, but it's hard to find practical, usable examples. I want
examples! Okay, so this is entirely anecdotal and based on my own
experience. But I can't be the only one looking in the documentation --
I've seen numerous postings on this and other lists complaining about the
docs for this or that program.

<A strong argument could be
made, I think, that if the user has problems using the software that is the
fault of the software design, particularly the user interface design.>

I agree!

<I seldom hear from most users>

Maybe you write good docs. ;-)

<I'm no
longer convinced that if writers do the best possible job of documentation,
in whatever media can be used, that it will be sufficient.>

Perhaps not. But I think there is sufficient evidence that good
documentation can decrease calls to technical support, saving enough money
in service calls, etc. to make it worth doing, financially. (Well, okay, I
admit it, I don't have access to any studies about this, just anecdotal
evidence/testimonials from other people. Can anyone back me up with real

On another note, if I had to pick a preferred method of "help" for finding
how-to information on complex questions, it wouldn't be a document at all,
it would be a mail list. The lazy-man's way: just type your question, click
send, and wait for the answer...

Melanie Shook
Technical Writer
(405) 419-7032
mshook -at- com2001 -dot- com

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