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plino wrote:
My concern is that many users expect help to be present in the application
itself, and not everyone is willing to go and find answers in a community.
Could the application itself pull its "Help" functionality from online

In my experience an online forum/help/FAQ does NOT replace an offline help,
it is a complement. There is always the need for an offline FAQ (included in
the help files) which must be compiled by humans from the most frequent
questions at the forum (ideally already organized in the wiki)

If people keep asking the same questions (hence they are considered FAQ)
it's because it's not clear enough on the standard help file how to perform
those tasks.

Even assuming that many people don't bother to read before asking, if a
given task generates repeated questions it means that it should be included
in the online and offline FAQs as a first approach and that the GUI itself
should be re-designed to make it easier to find the function.

I know this is easier said than done. But it is the key to a successful
I have said this in the OOo discuss list, and I think it bears repeating here. One of the biggest problems causing the need for users especially new ones to need help is the lack of a good users manual. The OOo documentation site is very confusing, there are too many manuals to choose from and nothing says anything like "If you are a new user, this is the one you want". I could be wrong in this, but I don't think that I am. The only module I ever use with any regularity is Writer. If I can figure out how to use it, I might use Calc for a personal check register, likewise I might use Base for a list of all my DVD collection, but it's Writer that I use daily. I suspect that I am fairly typical in this, and that perhaps 50% or more of OOo, and now LO users use Writer far more than they use the other applications. A survey might tell us if that is so.

Assuming that it is, I think the primary users manual should focus on Writer, with just one chapter on each of the other modules, and a pointer to where to download a more extensive manual on each. Where I disagree with most who write in, is that I think that a basic manual like I describe *should be in the download package*. In order to keep it small for that reason, it should be in ODF format not PDF, and it should be formatted for an 8.5x11 page rather than the usual 5x7 so that it would be practical for the user to print out without the horrendous paper waste of the 5x7 format. (Remember all printer paper comes in 8.5x11 or similar) Also keeping it to 100 pages or less will both keep the download size down, and encourage users to actually print a hard copy. (a hard copy is very useful because you can read in the manual while using the software) I find help often less than helpful simply because it can be difficult to both read how to do a thing and simultaneously do it. I recognize that a much longer and more detailed manual is required to completely cover subjects like Styles, but for all beginners, and most other users a manual like I just described is what's needed. Probably organized with an introduction to the most used commands, then a tutorial, then a reference section.

This could be one thing that would set LO apart from other packages that offer good word processors, Even expensive MS basically sucks in the area of manuals and user support. Years ago they used to be much better in this area. Good user support seems to be the first thing that for profit companies give up when they think they can get away with it. Now it is time for me to climb down off of my soapbox Robert Derman

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