Why not do it ourselves? (Was: using 3rd-party books)

Subject: Why not do it ourselves? (Was: using 3rd-party books)
From: Darren Barefoot <Darren -dot- Barefoot -at- capeclear -dot- com>
To: "TECHWR-L" <techwr-l -at- lists -dot- raycomm -dot- com>
Date: Wed, 19 Sep 2001 13:44:55 +0100

Well, this is a good question. One reason that's apparent to me is that in
my experience, most manuals are pretty scant on real-world usage
information. That is, it's one thing to write about how a product works, but
it's quite another to write about how people actually use it. These two
information sets can differ significantly, and I think the 3rd-party books
often cover the second scenario. The other reason I can think of is that
I've never been in a documentation department that had the resources to
produce both basic and advanced manuals (that significantly overlapped in
their information). We're generally pleased if we can document all of the
features adequately.

That said, I have been lobbying my team to infuse us material (where
appropriate) with some humour and light-heartedness. As their bald-faced
traditionalists, so far I've been voted down. My two cents. DB.

> -----Original Message-----
> From: Carey Jennifer (Cry) [mailto:jennifer -dot- carey -at- cdi -dot- cerberus -dot- ch]
> Sent: 19 September 2001 12:11
> Subject: Why not do it ourselves? (Was: using 3rd-party books)

With the recent bombardment of
> "fill-in-the-blank- for dummies" books (though most dummies I
> know don't bother to read books about their area of
> interest!) it's made me wonder why we don't write manuals in
> such a way that these books don't need to be written?
> For example, what would happen if we wrote both a basics (for
> new users) manual, an intermediate-advanced use manual and
> included those with our product in the first place?
> Third-party books are often infused with "light-hearted" and
> quippy personality, including silliness and fun. What would
> happen if we did this in ours?


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