Finding information in documentation

magnifier We all know how to do that, don’t we? The problem is the options that we can give our readers. Tagging, tag clouds, search, a table of contents, an index. But what is the best option?

Once again, I’ve posed a question that has no clear-cut answer. I can’t say that I’ve found a universal solution. Each document, each delivery method offers challenges and requires a slightly different solution.

Here are a few hundred words that encapsulate my thoughts on this subject.

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Writing Open Source conference a success

Or, that’s the impression I get. Just in case you hadn’t heard, the conference was “was three days of doc folks from many different open source projects sharing ideas, helping each other out and lots of laughter.” When time permitted, I followed Jim Campbell’s dents and Janet Swisher’s tweets from the conference, as was kicking myself for not being able to attend. Sometimes, life gets in the way of the really interesting things …

If you’re interested in catching up, you can search identi.ca and Twitter for the tag #woscon. You can also catch up on the various blog posts from the conference here.

Writing Open Source conference this weekend

This weekend, a unique conference is taking place in Owen Sound, Ontario. It’s Writing Open Source and, as you can probably tell from the name, the focus of the conference is developing documentation for and using Open Source software and ideals.

There are some interesting sessions at Writing Open Source, like the ones on day one. Day two looks to be just as interesting — it’s an unconference, and includes a FLOSS Manuals Book Sprint and several group discussions. Day three is packed with documentation sprints.

Unfortunately, work and personal commitments stopped me in my tracks — I would have loved to have gone to the conference. But Jim Campbell is hauling himself up here from Chicago and will be denting about what’s happening.

Janet Swisher will also be there — she’s co-ordinating the FLOSS Manuals Book Sprint and doing a session on day 2. With any luck, Janet will be tweeting from the conference.

Why tweet when you can twait?

When I talk to people about Twitter, they have the impression that you need to be connected to the service — either by logging into the site or by using one of the many Twitter desktop/mobile clients — in order to use Twitter effectively. If you have the time, then more power to you.

Most of us don’t have that kind of time. Work and life tend to get in the way of tweeting, and a lot of other stuff. But there is a way around that. It’s called Twaitter.

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Why FAQs are the tech writer’s secret weapon

by: Craig Haiss

faq Most questions have been asked before.

This isn’t a profound statement; most of us would consider it obvious. Just ask anyone on your Product Support team. Chances are the majority of calls they receive are fielded with canned answers.

Why? Because we all seem to ask the same questions. By providing answers to those questions, you can help the majority of your users get back on track quickly.

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