One gripe I have with the help systems in many consumer software applications: they’re written with the assumption that we users are all clueless newbies.
Take the Microsoft Office tools: they have many advanced and powerful capabilities; it is both interesting and useful to know what exactly they do. But the Help system only gives you the step-by-step “How To”. Say you want to try the Auto-Summarize feature of MS Word, and are curious what exactly it does (I mean, beyond automatically creating a summary). How does the feature work? What algorithm is involved? How does it identify the important parts of the document? Knowing this is not only interesting; it can let us users know what to expect, and how to use the feature better. But all we are served is a sequence of steps like
- On the Tools menu, click AutoSummarize.
- Select the type of summary you want.
And so on. Necessary and useful for the computer-naive types, but not sufficient for the technical or curious.
I sometimes imagine the day when I’ll run into a button (perhaps in Word 2015?) that says “Stop world hunger”, and when I check it up in Help it will only say
To stop world hunger, click the button Stop world hunger.
C’mon, folks, you develop awesome code – let us know what is going on behind the scenes. At least give us a link to this information after the stuff the noobs use is listed…