RE: Evolution of technical writing (was Re: Training)

Subject: RE: Evolution of technical writing (was Re: Training)
From: "Anameier, Christine A - Eagan, MN" <christine -dot- a -dot- anameier -at- usps -dot- gov>
To: "TECHWR-L" <techwr-l -at- lists -dot- raycomm -dot- com>
Date: Fri, 9 May 2003 09:48:48 -0500

Steven Brown wrote:
> I can't help but wonder how the idea of "communities of
> learning" might be applied to technical documentation.
. . .
> imagine if a public database existed which their
> customers could use. It might function similar to
> Adobe's user forums or E-Help's RoboHelp Community.
> Anyone submits ideas, tips, and suggestions, while the
> content is moderated by a "technical writer" (or
> whatever job title we wish to assign) who ensures that
> content is accurate, timely, appropriate, and well
> organized.

I hate to be a wet blanket, but when I first found the RoboHelp
Community, I was pretty annoyed that the free tech support option
available to me basically boiled down to "Talk amongst yourselves." If
this sort of self-service tech support is the future of tech writing,
that's pretty grim.

Having a tech writer moderate the discussion may be helpful, but still,
the organization of such a public database boils down to "stuff people
asked"--i.e., random. The only way to get anything out of the database
is to do a search, and while some TWs may be proficient with searches,
many of our users are not. They don't want to do Boolean searches on
*our* docs, much less on each other's random questions and comments.
They want a TOC or an index that points them to clear, well-organized,
coherent information.



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