Beyond technical documentation: users helping each other

M.F. Steehouder

Research output: Contribution to conferencePaperAcademic

10 Citations (Scopus)
69 Downloads (Pure)


The author reflects on what users will expect from 'customer support' in the near future. To this end he looks at relevant literature and also reflects on the content of some current customer support sites on the Internet. In particular he focuses on two expectations. Firstly, users will expect tailored information. They want a straight answer to their individual questions and needs. As opposed to 'documentation', the helpdesk might well be a better metaphor for technical communication in the future. And, secondly, users will expect communication rather than documentation. As opposed to 'documentation', dialogue would seem to be a better metaphor for technical communication in the future. A communication mode that seems to meet these expectations are Internet- or intranet-based user forums. Many users of advanced software systems prefer to address their questions to user forums rather than to search for answers in the documentation. Not surprisingly, many companies host user forums on their customer support Web sites. But how well do these forums meet users' needs and expectations? A preliminary study of user forums suggests that they indeed cater to the needs for tailored information and dialogue.
Original languageUndefined
Publication statusPublished - 2002


  • IR-55875

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