Garin Wind (aajwind) wrote in lj_userdoc,
Garin Wind

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A recent thread has brought my attention to an issue I remember debating in the past but never posted about. First, two things to consider. (1) Our users are not idiots. Though, at times, this is unclear due to some of the support requests they open, they are not lacking all semblance of common sense. There are some things around the site - features or pages - that are intuitive; we shouldn't over-explain every small detail of every individual feature to the point that our FAQs become condescending. (2) Consistency is a beautiful thing. We went over it during the Great Email vs. E-mail Debate. We went over it during the mass overhaul of S2 documentation. It's been an underlying theme in userdoc for as long as I've been around. It is very important. Little things matter. Having all of the FAQs written in a similar way, presented in a similar format, using similar language; it's all very, very important.

On that note, we come to exampleusername. After looking briefly through about ten or fifteen of our FAQs, I see an inconsistency and a string of unnecessary explanations. I am also less wary about proposing something that would, potentially, require 30-50 FAQs be edited as we are on the horizon of another great FAQ overhaul which will put our FAQs in Rho-Style(tm). Let me explain my thoughts.

Of the FAQs I looked over, I saw quite a few linkings to exampleusername, whether it be the RecentPage, FriendsPage, UserinfoPage, MemoriesPage, etc. (forgive my S2-esque naming of the pages; it's a habit). However, a handful of these mentions add a "[...] replace 'exampleusername' with your username [...]" bit tagged onto them. I have two problems with this. (1) If we're going to include this little disclaimer in some of the FAQs, for the sake of consistency, we must include it in all of the FAQs [which mention exampleusername]. (2) Is it really necessary to explain that they need to replace "exampleusrname" with their username? The journal is named "exampleusername". The RecentPage and UserinfoPage give allusions as to what the journal is for and instructions for what to do next. Any logical human being could figure out that they need to replace the "exampleusername" with their username, as it is only an "example" of a "username". See where I'm coming from? I don't see the point in mentioning something that is, for the most part, completely rooted in common sense.

As per my two problems above, were we to try and resolve (1), I would have another problem: (3) Redundancy is not something I think we should make very common in our FAQs. Yes, sometimes things are worth repeating because they are important and cover a wide array of topics or possible interpretations. Yes, sometimes features cross-over among FAQ categories and, because our FAQs cannot be cross-referenced (that is, one FAQ put in more than one FAQ category), important information could be lost while trying to preserve a lack of redundancy. But, in this case, seeing FAQ after FAQ say essentially the same thing would be not only redundant, but annoyingly and unprofessionally redundant.

So, I propose we mend (2). I don't think we need to include this disclaimer at all. If anyone has any arguments against this idea I'd love to hear them. These were all only my personal opinions and they are always subject to change if persuaded properly. Comments? Thoughts?

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