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Paper manuals weren't exactly classics of clarity either.

I don't know what the answer is, but I'm working on a general theory of corporate dysfunction based on the observation that functional teamwork is inherently collaborative and goal driven, while dysfunctional teamwork is inherently adversarial, authoritarian and status driven.

So it depends on the culture. If the culture of a forum is full of individuals trying to pull rank on each other and claim territory, don't expect much use from it.

If the individuals are solution oriented rather than obsessed with imaginary nuances of status and rank then you're more likely to get good answers and real help - even if by necessity some of it is buried in a FAQ for newcomers.

by ThatBritGuy (thatbritguy (at) googlemail.com) on Tue Mar 10th, 2009 at 02:23:30 PM EST
Ummmm...rows full of fold out drawings of each circuit board, each console leg, the spacing of the air holes in the back panel...took up a shelf or two. Who didn't love those?

I suspect you are right about the culture being the key.

At some point it has to work out. I, for one, can't go on with this ineptitude. Perhaps this is my first stab at challenging it. I am mid-process in setting up 3 forums myself, and have a product in design. Maybe I should think about this for my own customers benefit.

<cloonks head with realization.>

Never underestimate their intelligence, always underestimate their knowledge.

Frank Delaney ~ Ireland

by siegestate (siegestate or beyondwarispeace.com) on Tue Mar 10th, 2009 at 03:24:04 PM EST
[ Parent ]
ThatBritGuy:
If the individuals are solution oriented rather than obsessed with imaginary nuances of status and rank then you're more likely to get good answers and real help

that was so true for me with Digital Performer, my first foray into hard disc recording, the yahoo forum was a godsend, full of superkind, experienced users trading questions and tips.

ThatBritGuy:

Paper manuals weren't exactly classics of clarity either.

LOL, you sure got that right, i used to believe there was a particular form of japanese sadism involved in roland manuals for example. let's have a giggle messing with the gaiji mindset, there, scrambled...

'The history of public debt is full of irony. It rarely follows our ideas of order and justice.' Thomas Piketty

by melo (melometa4(at)gmail.com) on Tue Mar 10th, 2009 at 05:12:41 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Removal of usable manuals as a way of externalising costs. The number of major companies that now make more money off training than actually they do from their products....

Any idiot can face a crisis - it's day to day living that wears you out.
by ceebs (ceebs (at) eurotrib (dot) com) on Wed Mar 11th, 2009 at 07:33:27 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Well, actually, that's what Eric Raymond says about free software in The Cathedral and the Bazaar: there's more money to be made in customization and training than in selling the software and the documentation.

Most economists teach a theoretical framework that has been shown to be fundamentally useless. -- James K. Galbraith
by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Wed Mar 11th, 2009 at 07:49:30 AM EST
[ Parent ]
That dosn't mean you can't make extra money from selling the documentation though.

Any idiot can face a crisis - it's day to day living that wears you out.
by ceebs (ceebs (at) eurotrib (dot) com) on Wed Mar 11th, 2009 at 08:00:31 AM EST
[ Parent ]
There is a cottage industry of software books all the way from advanced development manuals to "single-button mouse for dummies".

Most economists teach a theoretical framework that has been shown to be fundamentally useless. -- James K. Galbraith
by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Wed Mar 11th, 2009 at 08:02:27 AM EST
[ Parent ]
All praise the great god O'Rielly.

Any idiot can face a crisis - it's day to day living that wears you out.
by ceebs (ceebs (at) eurotrib (dot) com) on Wed Mar 11th, 2009 at 08:08:22 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Their online store leaves much to be desired, though :-)

Most economists teach a theoretical framework that has been shown to be fundamentally useless. -- James K. Galbraith
by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Wed Mar 11th, 2009 at 08:13:11 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Had a Safari membership for several years, and never had any problems myself.

Any idiot can face a crisis - it's day to day living that wears you out.
by ceebs (ceebs (at) eurotrib (dot) com) on Wed Mar 11th, 2009 at 08:18:47 AM EST
[ Parent ]
I'm still getting actual dead tree versions from them...

Most economists teach a theoretical framework that has been shown to be fundamentally useless. -- James K. Galbraith
by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Wed Mar 11th, 2009 at 08:21:58 AM EST
[ Parent ]
I do actually prefer dead tree versions, but my employers supplied me with one, Any dead tree ordering I always did through Here

Any idiot can face a crisis - it's day to day living that wears you out.
by ceebs (ceebs (at) eurotrib (dot) com) on Wed Mar 11th, 2009 at 08:29:56 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Migeru:
There is a cottage industry of software books all the way from advanced development manuals to "single-button mouse for dummies".

It's not a cottage industry - it's huge. International sales of a popular For Dummies book will be six or even seven figures. A print run for a less popular For Dummies title is likely to be low five figures.

Elsewhere in publishing, a hardback that sells 5000 copies is considered a success.

by ThatBritGuy (thatbritguy (at) googlemail.com) on Wed Mar 11th, 2009 at 09:17:24 AM EST
[ Parent ]
lot easier to update a pdf than a dead tree manual. some of the latter come with a corrections and addenda page tucked in right from the start!

'The history of public debt is full of irony. It rarely follows our ideas of order and justice.' Thomas Piketty
by melo (melometa4(at)gmail.com) on Wed Mar 11th, 2009 at 08:32:30 AM EST
[ Parent ]
but a lot harder to flip from page to page when you're tracking down a problem. Not to speak about comparing a screen full of text to what you have running when you actually have a problem.

Any idiot can face a crisis - it's day to day living that wears you out.
by ceebs (ceebs (at) eurotrib (dot) com) on Wed Mar 11th, 2009 at 09:04:19 AM EST
[ Parent ]
You don't always have multiple devices capable of displaying PDF to hand?
by Colman (colman at eurotrib.com) on Wed Mar 11th, 2009 at 09:05:55 AM EST
[ Parent ]
not always when buried up to the armpits in network cabling and switches. can find yourself a bit short on places to put a laptop down.

Any idiot can face a crisis - it's day to day living that wears you out.
by ceebs (ceebs (at) eurotrib (dot) com) on Wed Mar 11th, 2009 at 09:08:33 AM EST
[ Parent ]

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