Re: Making them read the documentation

Subject: Re: Making them read the documentation
From: "Christensen, Kent" <lkchris -at- sandia -dot- gov>
To: "TECHWR-L" <techwr-l -at- lists -dot- raycomm -dot- com>
Date: Thu, 26 Apr 2001 13:56:00 -0600

(Digester chiming in a day late.)

Original poster (Sierra Godfrey) referred to "the most basic questions." So
... why not "Frequently Asked Questions" in the manual? The first thing in
the manual? Link to your beautiful step-by-step instructions from there.
(Creative indexing of questions required, obviously.)

Since I get the impression 99% of this discussion is about software manuals,
my comeback question would be ... Is your manual online and continually
updated to reflect questions received? (Kind of the definition of
"frequently asked," yes?)

A case could be made for the argument that the more emphasis your company
puts on telephone support the less faith it has in your manual in the first
place. But, others point out the different personality types (never use
manual) and I'd then ignore the argument because of that.

Speaking of personality types, there are also those who think some folks
actually prefer to answer their own questions and who try to avoid call-in
tech support at all costs. Old USAToday article on this:

Except for situations in the military where manuals are used under order
(but where there is always a sargeant or chief to consult) and airlines, we
just have to assume we and our manuals aren't even nearly the end-all in all
of this and get on with our lives. As I've heard said in the government, "I
may be waste, but I'm not corruption."

Kent Christensen
(another who believes techwhirlers are really product designers--are we
designing the product so it can't be used without a manual?)


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