Re: Structure of User-Authored Content vs Traditional Online Help

Subject: Re: Structure of User-Authored Content vs Traditional Online Help
From: Gene Kim-Eng <techwr -at- genek -dot- com>
To: techwr-l -at- lists -dot- techwr-l -dot- com
Date: Wed, 20 Oct 2010 12:43:33 -0700

"User-authored help" is essentially an unstructured knowledge database with
unverified content. The "structure" is provided by the search engine, and
asking around your personal network is as much a search engine as Google.

I've not seen any formal survey or study to determine whether users prefer
to roll the dice on other users because of social trends, or if it's just
that the "approved and structured" help or documentation available to them
does a lousy job of prioritizing their needs and presenting the information
they're looking for. In my case, I could provide a list of products I've
encountered - all of them software - for which it is the latter.

Gene Kim-Eng


-----Original Message-----

> From: Tara Charter <tara -dot- charter2 -at- gmail -dot- com>
> Subject: Structure of User-Authored Content vs Traditional Online Help
>
> I wanted to gather opinions of those in the field about user-authored
> content. I propose to write a research paper, possibly make it my APP or
> Thesis about the differences between traditional online help and
> user-authored content. Specifically, as an online help author for many
> years, I cannot help but compare the structure of online help (TOC,
> researched approved and linked topics in a hierarchy, index, search) to
> user-authored content. User-authored content I am referring to could be the
> content found anywhere on the Internet that was posted by a user about how
> to use an application or a product. For example, my friends on fb will ask
> each other (or complain to each other) about a feature on their smart phone
> before going to the manufacturer for help. At work today, I was asked to
> show someone how to create drop-down lists in Microsoft Excel cells and all
> I did was copy the online help and send it to the requester. They could
> have
> done this themselves. However, users seem to prefer contacting other users
> before going to the online help. I prefer the online help because it is
> approved and structured. What do you think?
>
>
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References:
Structure of User-Authored Content vs Traditional Online Help: From: Tara Charter
Re: Structure of User-Authored Content vs Traditional Online Help: From: Jim Shaeffer

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