Re: On-Line Help

Subject: Re: On-Line Help
From: Robert Plamondon <robert -at- PLAMONDON -dot- COM>
Date: Fri, 26 Jan 1996 08:37:51 -0800

Jane Bergen writes:

>I also think - and this probably sounds like heresy here -- that we
>put far too much emphasis on online help across the board

Certainly most of the on-line help I've seen wasted my time without
answering my questions. I would have been better of if there had
been no on-line help at all. I would also have felt that the
software company was more competent if they didn't flaunt their
cluelessness via their on-line help system. Thus, everybody loses.
(Society would be better off if the implementors of such help systems
became muggers; their crimes would be one-on-one instead of mass-

Most on-line help I've seen runs roughshod over ALL the principles
of documentation. It will be interesting to see how long it takes
people to realize that both hierarchical indexes and full-text searches
are essential to on-line help -- and that it's more important to
get around to presenting the requested information at all than it
is to fit each topic on a single screen. (Procrustes would have
been horrified to see what a small bed help-screen writers are using.)

-- Robert

Robert Plamondon, President/Managing Editor, High-Tech Technical Writing, Inc.
36475 Norton Creek Road * Blodgett * Oregon * 97326
robert -at- plamondon -dot- com * (541) 453-5841 * Fax: (541) 453-4139

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