RE: Technical Document Evaluation (Long response)

Subject: RE: Technical Document Evaluation (Long response)
From: John Posada <JPosada -at- book -dot- com>
To: "TECHWR-L" <techwr-l -at- lists -dot- raycomm -dot- com>
Date: Wed, 2 Apr 2003 17:17:26 -0500


>technical review, similar to an instructor
>evaluation form filled out after a training
>class.
>
>Has anyone done anything like this?

May I be frank?

Me thinks that the credibility of the input you get from your users will be
the same as the credibility of the data that instructors get from their
evaluations...not much...although it is easier on your ego. It's less
ego-bruising for a user to enter a number 1 on a form than to have them tell
you face to face that something, that you wrote in the documentation and
sweated bullets over "sucks the big one".

Besides...you only get answers back to the questions that you know you need
to ask, which are based on problems you know about, which should be
addressed without their input anyway. You know where your documentation
weakness are without evaluation forms...we all do, we just hope nobody
catches on :-) It's what you DON'T know that bites your users on the butt.

If you want to emphasize the technical aspects of your department to the
users, and you want to find out things you didn't know about, why not do
one-on-one sessions with the users? Watch them try to do something. Ask them
lots of why questions.

>technical skills of the writer. With this evaluation
>we hope to show the writers their weaknesses so they
>can get the training they need to become better SMEs.

That's fine , but shouldn't your #1 priority be to create better
documentation? A brilliant writer/SME will only be brilliant on the things
s/he know to be brilliant on. The real problems is not knowing what you
don't know. If you are really serious on making this level of improvement,
you need to adapt your questions based on answers to previous questions,
which you can only do face to face.

John Posada
Senior Technical Writer
Barnes&Noble.com
jposada -at- book -dot- com
NY: 212-414-6656
Dayton: 732-438-3372
Although she lives with seven other men, she's not easy.
------ Magic Mirror


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