RE: Resistance to allowing anonymous web access to online help?

Subject: RE: Resistance to allowing anonymous web access to online help?
From: <mbaker -at- analecta -dot- com>
To: "'Robert Lauriston'" <robert -at- lauriston -dot- com>, "'TECHWR-L Writing'" <techwr-l -at- lists -dot- techwr-l -dot- com>
Date: Sun, 19 Jun 2016 14:41:27 -0400

Actually, those are reasons *for* putting the docs on the public web. If you
don't put the docs on the web, your customers are more likely to go to Stack
Overflow for answers. Customers don't read the manual. They read the page
they find when they search. The first place they search is Google. If the
first page Google turns up is StackOverflow, that is the page they will
read. That trains them that the place to get answers is stack overflow, so
that is where they go when they have a question.

One of the major reasons for putting your docs on the Web is to try to get
your content to come up first in Web searches. What people who argue against
it miss is that people do not go looking for the manual and then read the
manual for their answers. If they did that, then keeping the manual behind a
log in would merely make their task more difficult. But that is not what
they do. The search for an answer to their question, without any thought to
what source it might come from. This means that people are only going to log
in to see the manual when they have exhausted ever other possibility. If
they find an answer on the public web, that is the answer they will use.
(And if they find an answer to how to solve the same problem in your
competitors product, well, what conclusion do you think they will draw?)

And if your docs are not on the external web, you have to do more SEO if you
want people to be able to find anything. Search is a big data problem. Good
ranking comes from search engines being able to analyze billions of searches
and the results people choose when they search. Your internal search does
not have the data to do that, so it will not work as well as Google would.
This is why intranet search systems come with extensive tuning capability to
allow admins to try to tune the search to the organization and its
vocabulary.

-----Original Message-----
From: techwr-l-bounces+mbaker=analecta -dot- com -at- lists -dot- techwr-l -dot- com
[mailto:techwr-l-bounces+mbaker=analecta -dot- com -at- lists -dot- techwr-l -dot- com] On Behalf
Of Robert Lauriston
Sent: Sunday, June 19, 2016 2:15 PM
To: TECHWR-L Writing
Subject: Re: Resistance to allowing anonymous web access to online help?

Mark Baker reminds me of a couple of good arguments against putting the docs
on the public web:

1. Support doesn't have to spend time monitoring Stack Exchange et al.
for customers who don't RTM.

2. Tech writers don't have to spend time doing SEO.

For the kind of complex developer software I document, those are significant
benefits. For a consumer product, those might be outweighed by the potential
pre-sales benefits.
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Follow-Ups:

References:
Resistance to allowing anonymous web access to online help?: From: John G
RE: Resistance to allowing anonymous web access to online help?: From: Erika Yanovich
Re: Resistance to allowing anonymous web access to online help?: From: John G
RE: Resistance to allowing anonymous web access to online help?: From: mbaker
Re: Resistance to allowing anonymous web access to online help?: From: Robert Lauriston

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