Re: Index/TOC Needed in HTML &/or Browser-Based Help? (take II)

Subject: Re: Index/TOC Needed in HTML &/or Browser-Based Help? (take II)
From: Peter Neilson <neilson -at- alltel -dot- net>
To: TECHWR-L <techwr-l -at- lists -dot- techwr-l -dot- com>
Date: Sat, 20 May 2006 09:10:42 -0400

Geoff Hart wrote:

I suppose that so long as nobody calls it a "taxonomy" in the interface that the user sees, the end result is the same. But isn't this somewhat like renaming a rose a "flurg", simply because "research has discovered" that people have gotten bored with the word "rose"? The essence is the same ("a rose by any other name..."), and changing the name makes no difference. Ask anyone where they'll look for a list of topics and the overwhelmingly dominant answer will be "table of contents".

Really. Dumb. Decision. Indexes work well because they organize information conceptually and by context. A good index provides entries such as "Print: troubleshooting font problems" beside "Print: configuring a printer" so you can compare the two entries and guess which one is most likely to answer questions. The keywords themselves are merely the superficial evidence of the thought process that went into defining and presenting these alternatives.

Search engines cannot provide that context unless it's designed into the text being searched; the keywords must not only be present, but there must be meta-information that accompanies them to provide the context for the keyword. Currently, that is the single biggest flaw in all the search engines I've used. Defining better keywords won't by itself help improve searches: the same time required to choose and test keywords would be better spent creating an index.

Correct. A good index will include terms that do not appear in
the text. Good indexes are not prepared by indexing tools or by
search engines. They are prepared by thoughtful indexers who may
or may not be tech writers.

The next step in the use of taxonomies is for the HR types to get
hold of the term and ask for a tech writer who not only has six
years experience with Framemaker 7.2 but is a taxonomy expert.
Indexing experts who have used earlier Frame versions for ten years
need not apply because the buzzword matcher will not select them.

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Index/TOC Needed in HTML &/or Browser-Based Help?: From: Barbara Vega
Index/TOC Needed in HTML &/or Browser-Based Help?: From: Geoff Hart
Re: Index/TOC Needed in HTML &/or Browser-Based Help?: From: Char James-Tanny
Index/TOC Needed in HTML &/or Browser-Based Help? (take II): From: Geoff Hart

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