Re: Post current product user docs to company website?

Subject: Re: Post current product user docs to company website?
From: Beth Agnew <beth -dot- agnew -at- senecac -dot- on -dot- ca>
To: techwr-l -at- lists -dot- techwr-l -dot- com
Date: Fri, 07 Dec 2007 00:51:17 -0500

Companies don't even have to be in a regulated industry to have
liability issues arising from unverified documentation. A few companies
I've worked for had concerns over users creating "crib sheets" from the
published documentation we gave them, because someone else's shortcut
caused data or financial losses. We could go back to the approved
documentation and show that there was a correct procedure, so not our
fault if you didn't follow it. While you can't keep people from making
their own notes, you can keep them from fiddling with your original
documentation and making it look like it's official. For that reason, we
never sent customers anything but PDFs or printed materials. If they
were going to make their own notes, they could be distinguished from ours.

Another concern is whether you really want the competition, and everyone
else, to have copies of your documentation, even if they don't own your
product. Depending on your industry, that may be just too much
proprietary info floating around. If customers, developers, or sales
people need access to information about your products, there are other
ways to provide it, and make it available to search engines.

It's not job security that motivates keeping documentation under our
control but usability and professionalism. If users are contributing to
documentation, where is the process for feeding those issues back to
marketing, specifications, and development for product improvement?
You're going to have to rewrite it anyway, because most users haven't
been trained in plain language, procedural writing, or clear communication.

Gene Kim-Eng wrote:
> Not in our industry. Not in a million years. The liability
> issues arising from allowing the posting of unverified
> information on a company-sponsored forum would be
> potentially staggering.
Beth Agnew
Professor, Technical Communication
Seneca College of Applied Arts & Technology
Toronto, ON 416.491.5050 x3133


Create HTML or Microsoft Word content and convert to Help file formats or
printed documentation. Features include support for Windows Vista & 2007
Microsoft Office, team authoring, plus more.

True single source, conditional content, PDF export, modular help.
Help & Manual is the most powerful authoring tool for technical
documentation. Boost your productivity!

You are currently subscribed to TECHWR-L as archive -at- web -dot- techwr-l -dot- com -dot-

To unsubscribe send a blank email to
techwr-l-unsubscribe -at- lists -dot- techwr-l -dot- com
or visit

To subscribe, send a blank email to techwr-l-join -at- lists -dot- techwr-l -dot- com

Send administrative questions to admin -at- techwr-l -dot- com -dot- Visit for more resources and info.


Re: Post current product user docs to company website?: From: neilson
Re: Post current product user docs to company website?: From: Gene Kim-Eng

Previous by Author: Re: Writing the User Docs first?
Next by Author: Re: Creative writers among us?
Previous by Thread: Re: Post current product user docs to company website?
Next by Thread: RE: Post current product user docs to company website?

What this post helpful? Share it with friends and colleagues:

Sponsored Ads