Re: documentation going away

Subject: Re: documentation going away
From: Phil Snow Leopard <philstokes03 -at- googlemail -dot- com>
To: "techwr-l -at- lists -dot- techwr-l -dot- com (techwr-l -at- lists -dot- techwr-l -dot- com)" <techwr-l -at- lists -dot- techwr-l -dot- com>
Date: Mon, 16 Jan 2012 21:16:59 +0700

On 16 Jan 2012, at 20:53, Ryan Minaker wrote:

> Does anybody have any ideas why is documentation going away? Is is that
> budgets are being cut? Is it the lack of audience analysis... so just let
> the audience, who may no be able to write, write the documentation and post
> it to a forum? Any suggestions would be appreciated.
> Thanks,
> Ryan

I think the answers are in your post.

1. Cost.

2. The internet, and more specifically, community forums that provide free technical help and establish a user community around the product. This provides several benefits:
— a free marketing tool that has greater credibility than in-house marketing because enthusiasm comes from customers, not the company
— a huge database of customer information and feedback usefule for
: market analysis
: product development
: customer feedback

To be honest, when you look at the huge pay-offs of internet-based help and the minimal cost, it remains a mystery why so many companies still produce paper documentation. The only rationale I can think of is for products where the user base or the product use is not conveniently related to online activity (like installing a shower, say) and/or the product is complex and safety critical (airplanes spring to mind, though there are of course many other more mundane examples).


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