greatest good?

Subject: greatest good?
From: Miki Magyar <miki -dot- d -dot- magyar -at- BANGATE1 -dot- TEK -dot- COM>
Date: Tue, 30 Apr 1996 06:38:22 MDT

Stuart Burnfield asks if "the greatest good of the greatest number" is "a
fair summary of the best approach to technical communication". It might be
a fair approach to the best summary....

In practice, I have to consider an audience (for user manual, electronic
high-tech widgets) that will include novice users, pros, occasional users,
and who knows? The instruments are complex, and will do more than most
users might make use of. So all the features have to be documented, even
though 'the greatest number' might never need them.

The real question is how you decide what to put in and what to leave out,
or how do you define 'complete'. Again, in practice, this may be
constrained by costs, bureaucratic decree, supervisor's preferences, and
marketing whims. The TW who is trying to do a conscientious job will
include what the expert user will need, and organize it to accommodate the
needs of all audiences. (Fr'instance, putting the Theory Of Operation lump
as an appendix, instead of section 2.)

Interesting question! I suspect there will be numerous responses - I'm
curious to see how theory fits with experience.

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