Re: Post current product user docs to company website?

Subject: Re: Post current product user docs to company website?
From: "V. Camgros" <camgros -at- mindspring -dot- com>
To: neilson -at- windstream -dot- net, "McLauchlan,Kevin" <Kevin -dot- McLauchlan -at- safenet-inc -dot- com>, techwr-l -at- lists -dot- techwr-l -dot- com
Date: Thu, 6 Dec 2007 14:56:57 -0800 (GMT-08:00)

nielson -at- windstream is expanding this discussion to include the possibility of opening our documents to contributions by the online (user?) community.

I didn't realize that the original post was discussing this at all.

I must not have been clear: I agree with publishing our finished documentation on a corporate web site accessible to all--even to the competition.

I am less certain about the docwiki idea. I hesitate because of the unknowns involved. How does such information get maintained when things change? How does information get tested, verified, and corrected? When opinions differ, how is that handled fairly and accurately in a competitive environment?

Of huge importance in my mind is whether such a wiki replaces or supplements traditional documentation. It will be difficult for the same writing staff to do both. The wiki approach will tend to be more timely and contributions from the community will enrich that information. However, some markets insist on translated technical information. Are they locked out of participating in docuwikis? Do we rely on automated translation mechanisms (bad and unreliable)? Do they just have to "suck it up and learn English"? (Joke, please don't spam me!) Or are such wikis appropriate only for products whose target market reads (and writes) English well? That leaves out a lot of software products, and I believe that the software market is likely to be the most universally able to use English.

I know that there are people who are already publishing open documentation--are there any Solaris writers on the list? Chime in and enlighten me, please!


-----Original Message-----
>From: neilson -at- windstream -dot- net
>Sent: Dec 6, 2007 2:19 PM
>To: "V. Camgros" <camgros -at- mindspring -dot- com>, "McLauchlan,Kevin" <Kevin -dot- McLauchlan -at- safenet-inc -dot- com>, techwr-l -at- lists -dot- techwr-l -dot- com
>Subject: Re: Post current product user docs to company website?
>Like it or not, the developer is almost certainly correct. And even
>though it seems to put our jobs in jeopardy, the new way of publishing
>docs will be as controlled wikis. (We'll have to leave the almost
>totally uncontrolled ones to Jimbo Wales and his Wikipedia.) The docwiki
>will be updatable by its users, but only if they have permission. There
>likely will be levels of permission, so that users cannot initially make
>changes to proposed specs. (Indeed, I'd be surprised to see commercial
>specs on the Internet. They are usually secret until after FCS at least.)
>I've seen some prototype docwikis on the web, but I've not bothered to
>get passwords to them because I'm addicted to copyediting, and if I can
>edit every durned docset on the internet, then I WILL, 170 hours a week.
>(It's bad enough that I mark for deletion the "greengrocer's apostrophes"
>in the "BANANA'S" signs at the supermarket.)
>Vickie Camgros suggested:
>> Kevin McLauchlan wants to know why he should or shouldn't pursue putting his product documentation on the corporate web site.
>> One of my developers continues to push for this (I agree with him) because he says he uses Google search to find information about everything he uses. If our product documentation isn't on the web, he can't find it that way.
>> He claims many/most(?) developer search this way.
>> You'd have to look at your user base, of course, to see whether they have this quality in common with developers, or to prove him wrong.


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