Support forum as documentation info sources

Subject: Support forum as documentation info sources
From: Gene Kim-Eng <techwr -at- genek -dot- com>
To: Lauren <lauren -at- writeco -dot- net>
Date: Mon, 16 Jan 2012 16:42:57 -0800

Changing subject in hopes of bending things back on-topic...

I've done work for several companies that used their user and support
forums as information sources for documents. Most commonly, information
culled from the forums would be reviewed by a customer service or design
engineer to verify its accuracy, then it would be added to troubleshooting
tables in service documents.

I know of only one product where the support forum is the primary source of
user help and docus. It's a CAD rendering program that is the creation of
a single person who has a relationship with a small company that
distributes the product and provides tech support for known issues.
Unknown issues are posted by users to the support forum, where the
developer responds with suggestions for workarounds and posts hotfixes for
users to test on their systems before they get rolled into the next service
release of the product and its online help. The ROI for taking your
support this way is that the product sells for about one-tenth the cost of
similar products from the big providers like AutoDesk or Pixar and we have
a direct line to the developer for new issues and feature requests..

Gene Kim-Eng

On Mon, Jan 16, 2012 at 3:55 PM, Lauren <lauren -at- writeco -dot- net> wrote:

> Like I said, if employers started using support forums as a substitute for
> documentation and then hired technical writers to document those forums, it
> would be a nightmare.

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