Reading Usable Help
@UsableHelp on Twitter
Gordon R. Meyer
Social cues in Help navigation
In "Navigating Information Spaces," David Benyon points out that in the real world we navigate not just by signposts, but by recommendations, the presences of others, and various indirect social cues.
Benyon suggests that intelligent agents could bring some of these cues to help systems, but I wonder if we couldn't also use genuine humans. We know that using help is the last resort, and almost always a solitary experience, but what if you could get a sense of history, popularity, and usefulness based on previous users? That is, seeing a well-trodden path and the grass trampled down around a particular topic, indicating others with similar interests or problems have gone this way, would give you more direction than the generic and valueless "up, next, back" that makes up most Help system navigation UI.