From: Mailing List <mlist -at- ca -dot- rainbow -dot- com>
To: TECHWR-L <techwr-l -at- lists -dot- raycomm -dot- com>
Date: Wed, 18 Feb 2004 09:40:55 -0500

Michael West [mailto:mbwest -at- bigpond -dot- com]

> In technical writing it is always dangerous to assume that.
> It is particularly risky in this case, because I often see
> help text or other software so-called "documentation" that
> does exactly the sort of thing I was calling attention to;
> that is, simply repeats or describes what is already visible
> on the screen, providing no further assistance.
> So clearly there are tech writers out there who think that
> is a smart thing to do. I'm glad you're not one of them.

I've seen that in a lot of open-source software, but I
don't believe it's an intentional choice of one or another
tech writer.

Instead, I believe it is put there by programmers as a place
marker, in lieu of "Some kinda help needs to go here."

On reflection, it might look slightly nicer to have
tool-tips and other "help" parrot the label on a dialog
box or button, but I think I'd rather see the blatant
reminder that somebody has yet to put some real Help in
that spot. At least a "help should go here" tool-tip
would give you some hope for the future, while a word-
for-word match with the field label or the button text
is a rather discouraging thing to encounter.


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