Re: documentation going away

Subject: Re: documentation going away
From: Lauren <lauren -at- writeco -dot- net>
To: techwr-l -at- lists -dot- techwr-l -dot- com
Date: Mon, 16 Jan 2012 15:18:13 -0800

On 1/16/2012 1:59 PM, McLauchlan, Kevin wrote:

<a lot of things>

I like you Kevin, but your comments about the support forums that are used as a substitute for live support are excessive. While these comments may be relevant within a very limited scope and context, they are overly broad generalizations suggestive of possible discrimination. It may be true that some for-profit companies rely too heavily on community forums for product support, it is not necessarily true that the paid employees who monitor and contribute to those forums are dregs.

Some of the issues with a lack of support can be from a lack of financing, some issues are from a lack of testing, so support people do not know what can go wrong, and some issues may be an attempt to tap the user market that may be quicker at handling support issues. Primarily, it seems, when a support issue is handled in a forum, then people should search the forum before contacting technical support. Forums, though, should not be a substitute for documentation.

It seems that when the economy drops, companies look for ways to cut back on documentation, as though documentation is an afterthought that people rarely need. Once companies realize that people do read the documentation, they seem to hire technical writers rather aggressively to get documentation again.

Many errors occur along the way with this tendency. Often, weak documentation is rapidly produced and then companies hire technical writers to "clean it up." This does not work, so companies follow up by hiring expensive technical writers to produce useable documentation by a certain deadline. Later, companies finally balance their technical writing resources with their technical writing needs until the next economic decline when companies repeat this dysfunctional cycle.

I have a scary prediction that may even be in place now. I think that companies will hire technical writers to document the content in forums. Hiring managers may probably say, "All of the support documentation is in the forums, you just need to clean it up."


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Follow-Ups:

References:
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
Re: documentation going away: From: Gene Kim-Eng
Re: documentation going away: From: Connie Giordano
RE: documentation going away: From: McLauchlan, Kevin
Re: documentation going away: From: Suzanne Chiles
RE: documentation going away: From: Porrello, Leonard
Re: documentation going away: From: Suzanne Chiles
Re: documentation going away: From: Gene Kim-Eng
RE: documentation going away: From: McLauchlan, Kevin

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