Re: Documentation not as important anymore?

Subject: Re: Documentation not as important anymore?
From: Robert Bononno <bononno -at- ACF2 -dot- NYU -dot- EDU>
Date: Sat, 30 Apr 1994 15:28:57 -0400

As an end user I'd like to add a brief comment. I think Lori's comment
about a _good_ index (below) is right on the money. I use a number of
reference books, handbooks, etc. in my work. Many of them, regardless of
their size or quality of the writing, are nearly unusable because of the
sloppy way the index has been compiled. I find this to be true with most
of the McGraw-Hill handbooks. When you don't know exactly what you're
looking for you turn to the index for help. If the index proves to be no
help, you've got to turn to a sometimes extensive table of contents and
hunt and peck until you've found what you're looking for. More often than
not, you don't find it. This is extremely frustrating (even more so
given the price of some of this reference material).

Software documentation--perhaps because it is limited in scope--is
generally easier to work with, i.e., it's quicker to find information
(although you can't always find it by looking in the index!).

Red herring index entries are another sore point. They're dead ends and
simply waste my time.

I think Lori is also right about the sequence. That is, a relatively
enlightened user will check the manual first and then--often out of
desperation--wait on hold until tech support gives a non-answer to the
question. This simply compounds the frustration.

Robert Bononno /// Techline
bononno -at- acf2 -dot- nyu -dot- edu
CIS 73670,1570

> Most of you (or, at least, those of you who have read my previous posts
> on indexing) have probably already guessed where I'm heading, and you're
> right. An index is *the* most important retrievability tool a document
> can have. There's nothing more frustrating to users than knowing that the
> information "is in the document somewhere" and not being able to find it.
> (The only thing that annoys me more is finding an index entry that looks
> interesting, turning to the referenced page to learn more, and then
> discovering that the index had led me to a dead end because the page
> reference was incorrect.)

> My point is this: If the product documentation has a comprehensive index
> that points readers to every useful nugget of information, users would not
> have to call Hot Lines or Customer Service so often. I read an article a
> few years ago (sorry, I can't remember where) that said that most of the
> information users requested from Customer Support personnel was actually
> *in* the documentation; however, the users couldn't find it because the
> index was inadequate.

> Lori Lathrop (getting off soapbox)
> Lathrop Media Services -----------> INTERNET:76620 -dot- 456 -at- compuserve -dot- com
> P.O. Box 808
> Georgetown, CO 80444
> (303)567-4011

Previous by Author: We are developers
Next by Author: Re: Capitalization and language interference
Previous by Thread: Re: Documentation not as important anymore?
Next by Thread: Re: Documentation not as important anymore?

What this post helpful? Share it with friends and colleagues:

Sponsored Ads