Review of user documentation - Final Report

This is the final report for Project 36, the aim of which was to 'review the Informatics documentation for users and computing staff, with the aim of developing a coherent, searchable structure.'


General comments

This project was initially specified by another CO quite a while ago; the final outcome of the project might be very different from that which was envisaged by the original specifier.

As things have turned out, the current project (which ran to the end of its 'Evaluation' stage) has reviewed the current state of our documentation, produced two discussion papers and, finally, produced a set of consensus decisions about how we should begin to rewrite our documentation. (See the final report below for these.) What must now follow is the actual job of doing this rewrite.

A confusing feature in the course of this review has been the conflation of documentation per se, and the advertising implications of that documentation. What emerges is that we have to be completely clear about the purpose of any websites we maintain or documentation we write, as well as completely clear about to whom any such websites or documentation are directed. That is: we need to know for whom we're writing, and why.

This project fell well short of its initial hopes in terms of implementation: in particular, no new 'technology' which might provide a framework for our documentation is proposed. On the other hand, the fundamental documentation 'problems' - e.g. its purpose; its target audience; its organisation - are human ones, for which it's not appropriate to seek a technological fix.

In retrospect, the conclusions reached - such as they are - could and should have been reached much more quickly.


The project produced three reports:

  1. An initial discussion paper.
  2. A subsequent report.
  3. A final report summarising the decisions taken (at a discussion at the Operational Meeting of 9.12.2009) in response to the issues arising.

-- IanDurkacz - 24 Feb 2010

Topic revision: r3 - 25 Feb 2010 - 14:17:44 - IanDurkacz
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