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Everything here is my personal opinion. I do not speak for my employer.
October 2007
November 2007

2007-10-27 »

(I'm not crazy. You're crazy.)

AMSE Sucks Part 5: Face it, nobody reads the documentation

That was a really great article about documentation in AMSE. I only have one problem with it: you've totally wasted your time.

Here's how the real world works. First, people load your program. Then, if they don't understand exactly how it will help them get laid within the first 5 seconds, they close the program and go do something else.

You know how much online help you can read in 5 seconds? None. You know how many tooltips? None. You know how many statusbar messages? None.

Your program is, by definition, too complicated for the average person to understand. It does math. QED.

There's only one way complicated programs can spread, and that's by making them expensive and hiring expensive trainers to walk the lusers through it one step at a time. People don't read, but they'll listen if they're paying a consultant $200/hour to explain the process to them using one-syllable words, four-colour brochures, and extravagant hand gestures.

And that's why your whole endeavour is completely doomed. You can't give something like this away for free, because consultants don't work for free, and people don't pay $200/hour consulting fees for programs they downloaded for free off the Internet. It makes them feel like idiots.

Isn't that ironic? All that online help you wrote to try to make users feel smart, and your users still feel like idiots because they got it for free. They'd be much happier if you sold them the program for $1000/seat and made it interminably hard to use. At least then they'd feel like they accomplished something.

I'm afraid there's only one idiot in this picture. Idiot.

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