Re: Online Help vs. Knowledge Base vs. FAQ

Subject: Re: Online Help vs. Knowledge Base vs. FAQ
From: "Stuart Burnfield" <slb -at- westnet -dot- com -dot- au>
To: "Techwr-l" <techwr-l -at- lists -dot- techwr-l -dot- com>
Date: Wed, 23 Jul 2014 14:41:48 +0800

If a question really is being frequently asked it implies there's a
design flaw in the product or a hole in the docs. You can fix these
problems once they're reported but if you can't deploy the updated
product or help topic to all customers immediately, FAQs are a good
bridge to make this sort of information available to customers in the

You should make it clear what build or version of the software the FAQ
relates to. You can retire individual FAQs after a suitable interval,
perhaps once the affected version goes out of support.

If your Online Help is packaged with the software, it would be good
if you can distribute updated help files along with updates to the
software itself.

If it's browser-based help served over the net, you should really just
publish the updated information in the online user guide, and not make
customers look in two places for answers to their questions.

A KB is a good place for niche information, such as:

* Procedures that are specific to older versions

* Integration with third-party products

FAQs could probably be merged into the KB, like this:

* Customers ask how data can be exported for analysis using DB2.
* FAQ document is published describing a 4-step procedure for doing
this using V5.1 of your software.
* DB2 Export wizard is added in V5.2 and covered in V5.2 online help.
* FAQ document is stamped as applicable to V5.1 and earlier versions
and is moved out of the FAQ list into the main KB. A note is added
pointing to the DB2 Export topic for V5.2 users.

* V5.1 eventually goes out of support and the KB document is

--- Stuart

> Online Help = online user guide with introductory material and
> FAQ = answers to questions users ask most often, with links to
online help
> KB = troubleshooting/workarounds for strange things
> My thinking is that the KB would change as issues are resolved.

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