Re: documentation going away

Subject: Re: documentation going away
From: Phil Snow Leopard <philstokes03 -at- googlemail -dot- com>
To: Connie Giordano <connie -at- therightwords -dot- com>, "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 23:00:53 +0700

I take your points Connie, a few 'off-the-cuff' responses.

> please don't assume your
> smart phone is that intuitive to use-because I'm proof it isn't so.

Agreed. I just bought a new HTC phone for my wife, and I couldn't make head nor tail of it (and I consider myself a techie-geek-sort who scorns manuals...silly me!). After about ten minutes, I searched Google and downloaded the online pdf manual.

> Community forums? I don't have time to wade through the tons of mis-titled
> threads trying find a simple answer.

No offence, but this could be your search strategy. In my case, I never go to the forums themselves to search for answers. I search in Google for a specific problem both with keywords and exact strings (encased in "______" quote marks). 9 times out of 10 that'll point me to several specific threads in forums where someone has asked a similar question. It's rare that at least one of those won't have an answer to my own problem. No wading required.

> It's kind of presumptious to say "most users don't want that" since it
> totally depends on the product, the company's support strategy and the
> experience level of the user.

Agreed, I was being presumptious, based around my own tech writing interests, which is Apple-related stuff.

> I haven't
> found any kind of consumer research that says users are satisfied with such
> an approach. Can you provide some data to back up your statement?

Nope, fair play for calling me out on that. Again, based solely round my own field of interest, and still anecdotal I have to admit, the huge growth in online tech support forums would seem to back up the *belief* that this is what customers want, but I agree there may be a lack of interest by companies to substantiate that so long as (as I think Gene or someone else has already pointed out), sales are going in the right direction. As I already noted, there are huge benefits for companies in outsourcing tech support to volunteer communities quite apart from costs, so I think until we see consumers voting with their wallets for more documentation (...?), I suspect it is a trend that is likely to continue, at least in the areas with which I'm familiar (I accept that, non-consumer product documentation is a different kettle of fish, like the ATM -engineer example mentioned by earlier).


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Re: documentation going away: From: Phil Snow Leopard
Re: documentation going away: From: John Allred
Re: documentation going away: From: Phil Snow Leopard
Re: documentation going away: From: Connie Giordano

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