Reading Usable Help
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Gordon R. Meyer
Why customers write their own documentation
Nearly every tech writer has experienced finding customer-produced documentation that is adapted from the onscreen help or manual that came with the product. Sometimes it is nearly identical but has had customer-specific information added, which allows their users to have concrete answers to questions like "See your system admin for information about the IP address you should enter." But on some occasions, the re-write is a hatchet-job with little discernible improvement. While I can't always explain the latter, a 2007 survey of free documentation projects provides insight into the motivation of some independent technical communicators.