Re: Welcome, and Net-Docs

Subject: Re: Welcome, and Net-Docs
From: "Eric J. Ray" <ejray -at- OKWAY -dot- OKSTATE -dot- EDU>
Date: Tue, 27 Apr 1993 15:50:40 CST

Dan said:

>Does anyone have further thoughts on the future of net-documentation?

>Thanks for the time

We need some, it needs to be comprehensive and easy to use, and I haven't the
foggiest idea of how to do all of the above. I wonder if others on the list
would be interested in sharing or collaborating on some form of net-docs.

Len said:

> Naturally, people should *always* read ALL of the directions, and
>remember them too. If they can't remember them, they should put them
>where they can get to them, and retrieve the necessary information when
>the situation requires it.
>As we discover from the the lessons of this list, however, people
>commonly do nothing of the sort, and they *get away with it*, annoying
>the hell out of the technical writing community in the process.

>As an instructive example, this situation makes a strong argument for
>persistent documentation with good accessibility. Unfortunately, list
>services force people to take responsibility for their own information
>storage and retrieval. Human nature being what it is, a fair percentage
>of them screw it up.

My question is, how do we help users avoid "screwing it up." Obviously,
mistakes happen, as I just demonstrated a few minutes ago. Those cannot
be helped. Systematic problems are a different matter. We get lots of calls to
the help desk about, for example, how to adjust the margins in Word for
Windows. Those could easily be solved by looking at the documentation, but
people don't.

We have recently started looking at ways to develop "independent users"
who will try to help themselves rather than making phone calls first and
reading the documentation, if necessary, later. Short of redesigning
the software or the interface, which in many cases isn't an option, what can be
done to encourage people to use the stuff? Have any of you embarked on such a

ejray -at- okway -dot- okstate -dot- edu

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