Re: Conventions, Intros, Overviews, Help, etc.

Subject: Re: Conventions, Intros, Overviews, Help, etc.
From: Martha J Davidson <editrix -at- SLIP -dot- NET>
Date: Thu, 28 May 1998 17:31:16 -0700

At 04:35 PM 5/28/98 -0700, John Wilcox wrote:
>It's been my experience that most users would rather see too much info
>in a manual than not enough.
I have to agree with John here. I don't want to be inundated with
unnecessary detail, but sometimes more is better, if it is information I
may not be able to find if it's not there. I prefer not to have
documentation that assumes I'll discover things for myself by playing
around with it, but that tells me what various options will do for me, so
that I can make informed choices.

Unlike what I gather is the prevailing modus operandi among tech writers, I
am not an Explorer... I do not find myself randomly searching through the
interface of a new piece of software until after I've read at least
something about what it's for, how its designers intended me to use it, and
what features are available. Once I'm basically comfortable, *then* I may
try out things I don't know much about yet, but not before.

In fact, I believe this makes me a more effective communicator. As a
closet technophobe who is more than capable of understanding and embracing
new technology, I can write from the perspective of a user who hasn't
encountered this software or that feature. I can present it so that it
doesn't have to be threatening, and explain what I've learned about how to
make it work. Those who prefer to learn by exploring can skip what I've
written, but those who learn more like I do at least have a fighting chance.


Martha Jane {Kolman | Davidson}
Senior Technical Writer
mailto:editrix -at- slip -dot- net

"If I am not for myself, who will be for me?
If I am only for myself, what am I?
If not now, when?"
--Hillel, "Mishna, Sayings of the Fathers 1:13"

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