Reading Usable Help
@UsableHelp on Twitter
Gordon R. Meyer
Free software, free documentation
In "The Free-Software Imperative" (Technology Review, Feb 2003, pg 30. Subscription required for full access.) writer Simson Garfinkel describes the benefits that poor organizations derive by avoiding expensive commercial software. Near the end of the article a Central American civil rights organization explains why they switched from Microsoft Exchange to a Red Hat Linux-based email system.
"The reason: it was nearly impossible to run Exchange without expensive books and training courses. Fee software, by contrast, comes with free documentation."
Exchange is a high-end, business application produced by a company with essentially limitless resources. Yet it requires the purchase of additional documentation (and training) in order to use it? Wow. This is an astounding, and depressing, claim. If Microsoft won't spend enough to produce excellent in-box documentation, who will?