Re: Incorrectly read instructions - by us humans

Subject: Re: Incorrectly read instructions - by us humans
From: Maurice King <benadam -at- CYBERDUDE -dot- COM>
Date: Sat, 12 Sep 1998 19:06:12 -0400

Dear Peter,

I'm aware that the readers are human, but our customers rarely know that. They call into the support numbers, swearing up one side and down the next, claiming that the documentation sucks, that whoever wrote the manuals was stoned at the time, that they shouldn't be charged for the service (probably the real reason for their indignation)... and then the Help desk person points directly to the page in the manual or the Help topic that covers the topic in detail! Ergo, we technical communicators are expected to be their eyes and ears as well. For that reason, I've become very sensitive to user-oriented issues, and when someone doesn't bother to read what's written, I just direct him/her to the documentation and hang up!

So severe can this problem be that one of my former employers had the practice of adding a page entitled "Join the RTFM Club" in the user's manual. The acronym means "Read the F***ing Manual," just to clarify for those who can't imagine what it means -- although with the news coming out of the Starr Report, I can't think of many who couldn't do that!

Nonetheless, I'm very grateful to the persons who responded, and I indicated that. Even those persons whose responses weren't at all to the point are on file now, because I can't know if in the future the information they gave won't be extremely relevant to our organization; the rumblings of change are already being felt on the corporate level, and the info doesn't go to waste!

It's true that I could just register for the list under my company's e-mail account, but there's a reason that I don't do that: sometimes I'm querying for my own enrichment as opposed to putting out a fire in the company. The company isn't in favor of a lot of e-mail traffic that isn't related to our work, and I comply as best I can. In this instance, however, there was ample justification for directing e-mail to my company account.

Again, I meant no offense to anyone; I just want to promote the idea of following instructions. After all, that's what keeps us in business!

- Maury

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