Re: Marketing/propaganda in documentation

Subject: Re: Marketing/propaganda in documentation
From: Ad absurdum per aspera <JTCHEW -at- LBL -dot- GOV>
Date: Tue, 18 Jan 1994 19:01:35 GMT

It depends. I've seen some really heavyhanded examples. My
hypothesis: just as a lot of us technical writers think that
deep down inside we are novelists or poets, a lot of marketing
people think they could have been hotshot creative people in
some ad agency. They use the outlet at hand, namely, your
draft of a user manual. The Taste Police insist that you try
to talk them out of it for the good of all concerned.

Seriously: I see nothing wrong with emphasizing the positive,
mentioning the negative discreetly, and pointing out the
existence of other relevant products and services from one's
company. But I feel strongly that the purpose of documentation
is to serve the user's needs, and that the best way to
accomplish this is to present accurate instructions and
background information clearly and concisely. A manual is a
tool; using it as an advertising venue simply because it's
there and it's paid for is a disservice to the customer.

Your mileage (and reviewers) may vary,

"Just another personal opinion from the People's Republic of Berkeley"
Disclaimer: Even if my employer had a position on the subject,
I probably wouldn't be the one stating it on their behalf.

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