Re: When do people consult documentation?

Subject: Re: When do people consult documentation?
From: "Wayne J. Douglass" <wayned -at- VERITY -dot- COM>
Date: Thu, 16 Jan 1997 11:26:33 -0800

At 11:07 AM 1/16/97 -0800, Jennifer Lautz wrote:
>I use this type of statement whenever I have to convince programmers to fix
>a usability problem, especially when their alternative suggestion is to
>explain it better in the docs. I also mention that the people most likely
>to be asked include our technical support folks, who are extremely vocal
>and very influential when something is unusable. The tech. support folks
>usually end up dragging the offending programmer in to help them solve
>customer problems like this, so this statement can be very persuasive (the
>programmers can visualize the boomerang effect of releasing garbage to our
>customers). :-)

Right on, Jennifer. Explaining it better in the docs is what I call
"papering over the problem."

Regarding your other point, I once suggested that we publish the HOME phone
number of the developers on the project. If they got enough calls from irate
users, they would be more sensitive both to their products and the
accompanying documentation. I worked on a project where the lead engineer
dismissed the importance of documentation for a printer. He shrugged off
suggestions from our doc group regarding information that we would need to
pass on to the end users. Alas for him, his insouciance gave him major
headaches long after the product was released. Fortunately for us, he came
to understand the importance of good docs and was a dream to work with
afterwards.

I quote William Blake again: "If a fool would persist in his folly, he would
become wise."

--Wayne Douglass

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