Re: The ultimate help system

Franck Martin wrote:

> I think the story is to have an online help system with a caveat, at the end
> of each page this question is then asked: "Does this page answer your
> question?". the original qestion, the page and the answer are stored in a
> database for peer review. The person could even come back with his solution
> so the knowledge base grows...

Ick!  Please don't do that, I hate those.  Even though many websites employ
this method, I doubt they get much useable information.  Instead, I have a
similar, yet different proposal.  I was developing this for the Stampede guys,
but people weren't responsive and nothing ever got done there, so I quit.

The idea is very simple.  Lets look at it from an end-user viewpoint first.

Joe Blow has a problem.  He can't figure out why his Gnome background changes
when he runs Nautilus or Enlightenment.  So he comes to our handy dandy online
help system where he can search for the answer to his question or browse by

Somebody else can cover the search heuristics.

Now assuming he does *not* find an answer to his question, he is given the
option to ask the question of the maintainers.  This would first pass through
the help system moderator(s) who would filter out the junk and ensure that a
question isn't a duplicate (if it is, that would indicate that the searching
capabilities or the posted answer need some review).  Now once the moderator(s)
approves it, the question is sent to a mailing list of developers, documentors,
etc. who have indicated a willingness to participate.

Those who choose to respond would do so via replying to the email.  The help
system moderator(s) would gather the responses into a cohesive entry to the
database.  Those who answered would get a preview before the entry went live
and those authorized would be able to edit it in a sort of WikiWiki fashion.

Once the whole process was completed, the entry would go live and the person
who posed the question would be notified.  The person who asked the question
and those who answered would get credit in the database.

A help system like this would be *almost* self maintaining.


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