Re: Wish list for academic research

Subject: Re: Wish list for academic research
From: "Jane Bergen" <jbergen1 -at- earthlink -dot- net>
To: "Jason Willebeek-LeMair" <jlemair -at- cisco -dot- com>, "TECHWR-L" <techwr-l -at- lists -dot- raycomm -dot- com>
Date: Tue, 28 Sep 1999 11:07:02 -0500

No, Jason, research doesn't work that way. Research tells us how (and
IF) a reader uses the manual, what the problems are, and various other
things. The point I was making with my quote was that a tech writer
can make a judgment call about whether his or her manual is "better"
than another manual, but without something to back it up, the writer
is making a pretty subjective call.

What tells the writer that the first manual is so bad? Looks? The
employer? A paycheck? I may step on some toes here, but I think a lot
of employers (who pay for the production of a help system...be it
paper or online), also don't have a clue about what makes a manual
"good" (which I define as "usable" rather than "pretty" -- although a
pretty manual can also be usable). Very, very few companies really get
valid feedback on their user manuals. For one, it isn't a priority in
most companies. Secondly, it requires an organized, methodical, and
unbiased method of gathering the information. Few companies have the
time or resources to attempt it. That's the job of researchers who
have money and time to study these things.

Jane Bergen

----- Original Message -----
From: Jason Willebeek-LeMair <jlemair -at- cisco -dot- com>
To: TECHWR-L <techwr-l -at- lists -dot- raycomm -dot- com>
Sent: Tuesday, September 28, 1999 8:44 AM
Subject: RE: Wish list for academic research


> Jane Said:
>
> Well, maybe the manual was bad, maybe it wasn't, but without any
> studies to say what is or is not acceptable/beneficial/usable or a
> nightmare, beauty is left for the beholders to bicker about.
>
>
> Jason Sayz:
>
> So, if the majority of the users think a manual sucks, but we
perform a
> study that says it doesn't, can we tell the users that they are
morons?
>
> Jason
>
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