Re: What is a Topic?

Subject: Re: What is a Topic?
From: Steve Delanghe <zulu -at- CIX -dot- COMPULINK -dot- CO -dot- UK>
Date: Fri, 1 Sep 1995 17:46:03 GMT

>> Our greatest problem with writers is that they have not realized that
a subject is a compilation of topics

I should think that your writers' greatest problem is that the people
they work for use vague definitions they appear to think are precise. If
you can briefly define "Subject" and "topic" in a useful way it might
help them (I think you'll have trouble doing that). And you'll also have
to tell your users - on the other hand you could *ask* them what your
topics should be.

Is completing a dialog box half a topic, one step or several steps? It
depends on 1/ the application 2/ the quality of the dialog 3/ the
experience and confidence of the user. Explain to us how you would
segment the help for the Enhanced dialog in Windows control panel for a/
Bill Gates b/ my mum.

Appealing to "chunks" and that ubiquitous, overused and misapplied advice
from George Miller won't do you much good. Miller was talking about
*remembering* things using short term memory: your users don't
necessarily have to remember anything, and breaking a 14 step procedure
into two 7-step procedures is not going to help them remember the
procedure even ten minutes later.

(...steps down from soapbox...)

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