RE: shortsighted or realistic?

Subject: RE: shortsighted or realistic?
From: John Posada <JPosada -at- book -dot- com>
To: "TECHWR-L" <techwr-l -at- lists -dot- raycomm -dot- com>
Date: Wed, 9 Apr 2003 10:53:31 -0400


I get the following type of message all the time; this one was from this
morning (btw, I write the "run book"):

>The run book does not say what to do for this one, but when I ping
[servername] I get request timed out. Where is this FTP server?

The NOC has learned that before they ask a question to my development group,
they must check the documentation. How have they learned this? Every time
they ask a question that is covered in the documentation, instead of getting
an answer, my manager replies "Check the run book", and I'll usually chime
in with the page number. After awhile they learn.

When I legitimately get the above type of question, I know I need to
research the problem and get the solution into the next release, which is
usually every Friday via a new PDF on the shared drive.

People can be taught to use the docs. Now, granted, this is for a
controlled environment, not commercial software. However, this problem is
often just as common internal applications as external applications.

John Posada
Senior Technical Writer
jposada -at- book -dot- com
icq: 178047452
aim: jposada1
"When you only have two minutes to do
something that takes three, wait until you have three"

> I'd like to think that everytime the techsupport phone doesn't ring,
> that's when someone found the answer in the online help/documentation
> (and maybe a techwriter angel gets his wings). I've tried to say that to
> programmers/techsupport, but for some reason, they see that as a
> laughable concept (although the "Nobody uses the docs" rallying cry is
> always completely believable).

For most of us, reality is somewhere between "nobody uses docs" and "every
time the phone doesn't ring, it's _because_ of the docs."

Because technical communication is what I do, I tend to have a very
techcomm-centric view of the world. But realistically if I were to gauge
how often I use online help/manuals -- it's just not very often. And it's
usually as a 2nd-to-last resort; here's my usual procedure when I need

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