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I've gotten a few queries about the online updatable documentation system called livedocs (at http://livedocs.macromedia.com). I think this message will answer those questions. It is in no way intended to be a self-promoting message (livedocs aint for sale anyway). I am happy to address other questions on or offline.
First off, the traffic is not heavy. Not THAT many people read the docs, as much as we would like to think. ;-) We are gradually adding exposure to livedocs in the online help of our applications (ColdFusion and JRun administrators, plus HomeSite) to drive traffic, but this is being done slowly. There are enhancements on the way such as syndication that will drive further traffic.
The doc team gets an email every time an update to a page is made. We have a tool that lets us delete the posting immediately if we want. I think we have done this once or twice. Adding a comment requires that you log in with a username and password tied to an email address, so it discourages the ridiculous postings you sometimes see on slashdot or other comment-driven sites. The most difficult part of setting up livedocs was getting buy-in from the folks who run the website and tying in the livedocs login with the Macromedia login.
We also all have access to a table of comments so we can browse it once in a while.
Noone "officially" checks the veracity of the posts... in other words, if someone posts a code sample, we don't check it to make sure it works. Anyone reading the pages knows that the added comment was added by a user, so they can consider it. A couple of times, we've had users add some code sample, and then another user post a comment that fixes the code sample. That's ideal, IMO.
One of the cool things is that we can make changes to our own docs in real-time by adding comments ourselves. I've done this a number of times. Or we can add links that point to other resources on a particular topic. Sometimes these links take the form of pointers to outside resources, or sometimes we point to recent topics in our own forums or developer center on Macromedia.
It is trivial to search for the typical 4-letter words, and this is incorporated into the code, just like checking for rogue/malicious scripts in the comments.
This biggest problem is that some people post comments to livedocs pages that are equivalent to requests for technical support. In those cases, we refer them to the tech support areas of our website, or in some cases respond to them with help.
Sr. Technical Writer
< m a c r o m e d i a >
From: Blount, Patricia [mailto:PATRICIA -dot- BLOUNT -at- ca -dot- com]
Sent: Friday, June 28, 2002 9:40 AM
To: mhorn -at- macromedia -dot- com
Matthew, I'm intrigued by the livedocs idea you posted to the tw list. One question; who in your organization checks the accuracy of any new posts, both from a technical as well as grammatical, stand point?
Aren't you afraid you'll receive tons of "joke" posts rather than anything useful?
Please advise as I love the idea and would like to implement something similar here, but I could see this creating a need for a full time staff of "cops".
Matthew J. Horn
Sr. Technical Writer
< m a c r o m e d i a >
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