Who writes owners manuals?

   #1  

Frankenkubota

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I've always thought owners mans were poorly written, for the most part. A well written manual stands out!

I also believe the folks that write the manuals are probably exactly the wrong people. I guess the team that just spent 18 months developing a product is then tasked with writing the manual? because obviously, they know so much about the product.

Because they have lived with this thing forever, they are intimately acquainted with it, know every nook and cranny and, by simple human nature, unconsciously, take lots of stuff for granted.

I suggest they put some bozo like me in a empty room with a table, a screw driver and the product as it would appear on the store shelves. Then record me.

Then find a 9 year old to write the manual!

The reason I bring this up is, yesterday I broke out my new echo trimmer. Actually 9 months old, used twice and put away. I was 99.9% sure the nut holding the blade on was a reverse thread, called a left hand thread, like chrysler's lug nuts (on one side only) in the 60s or 70s?

I grabbed the manual and after 15 minutes i got pissed, tossed the manual and googled it. Yup, reverse thread. The reason I couldn't find anything was the manual was swamped with warnings and safety messages. It's overwhelming, my brain just shuts down, like looking at cereal at the grocery store.

Back to my question......I have a real good idea who writes these manuals, thanks again counselor!

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   #2  

Tinhack

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Just like a few of the YT videos I've been watching on replacing the knock sensors on a GM V8. Some of the "mechanics" place the camera so far away from what's happening, you can see what they're doing when. Then through the magic of TV, the thing is back together and I'm sitting there saying; "wait, what happened to those connectors?". I just wasted 10 minutes of my life and have to go look at another video. o_O
 
   #3  

mwayne

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I've always thought owners mans were poorly written, for the most part. A well written manual stands out!

I also believe the folks that write the manuals are probably exactly the wrong people. I guess the team that just spent 18 months developing a product is then tasked with writing the manual? because obviously, they know so much about the product.

Because they have lived with this thing forever, they are intimately acquainted with it, know every nook and cranny and, by simple human nature, unconsciously, take lots of stuff for granted.

I suggest they put some bozo like me in a empty room with a table, a screw driver and the product as it would appear on the store shelves. Then record me.

Then find a 9 year old to write the manual!

The reason I bring this up is, yesterday I broke out my new echo trimmer. Actually 9 months old, used twice and put away. I was 99.9% sure the nut holding the blade on was a reverse thread, called a left hand thread, like chrysler's lug nuts (on one side only) in the 60s or 70s?

I grabbed the manual and after 15 minutes i got pissed, tossed the manual and googled it. Yup, reverse thread. The reason I couldn't find anything was the manual was swamped with warnings and safety messages. It's overwhelming, my brain just shuts down, like looking at cereal at the grocery store.

Back to my question......I have a real good idea who writes these manuals, thanks again counselor!

View attachment 694600
One of my instructors in college was a hired gun technical writer for owners manuals etc. Manufacturer would send the product to his home and he would play with it and then write the manual. One week he might be writing about a laptop, or back in those days a desktop, then car stereos the next week.
 
   #5  

PuffyC

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I’m a technical writer and could write a book on this subject but I'll give you the abridged version of my experience. All the warnings come from the lawyers of course, and those are nonnegotiable. If legal says you have to do something then you have to do it no matter how little sense it may make IRL.

As to consumer manuals in general, most are bad because companies don't want to pay for a writer/editor. They figure anyone can write (how hard could it be?) so when a product ships they usually give that job to a dev volunteer, or maybe even a marketing droid or someone in support. There are various problems with this, but one of the biggest with devs is that they don't know the product. Sure, they know their one little area very well, but the whole thing as an assembled, functioning unit? They're clueless. That's not meant to be a slam because if you design taillights for Chevy why would you know or care about how the transmission works, or how to even drive a car for that matter. The other problem is they universally cannot write. They always think they can, but that goes back to thinking anyone can write. There are college degrees given in the subject for a reason, so this makes as much sense as thinking someone can be an architect simply because they live in a house. The third is companies are lazy and just don't care, and I see this all the time. For example, there's one major tractor company that right now has multiple grammar and punctuation errors in their two page online sales pdf. How many people had to check off on that before it went out? How expensive would it have been to have one of those people be a trained editor who understood the English language? Not very. Another good example is all those manuals for stuff from Harbor Freight. Is it really that hard or expensive to hire someone who's a native English speaker to give those a quick edit/translation? Of course not, but they don't because manuals are an afterthought and nobody cares.

All that is for companies that don't have pro writers on staff. For those that do, there's a whole other assortment of problems that get introduced but I'll leave all that boring stuff for another day.
 
   #6  

MossRoad

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If that trimmer has a blade conversion kit, the parts list for that kit should show that it's a left hand thread nut.
 
   #7  

Industrial Toys

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It's hard. Ever write technical material? You read it a year later and you yourself don't understand it.
 
   #8  

kenmbz

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When I used to write tech manuals, my checker was the big boss's admin.
She was really good at pointing out whatever looked like nonsense to her,
 
   #9  

JethroB

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I’m a fan of products that come with a two page Quick Start guide with diagrams.
 

kenmbz

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yes , quick start. Just put together a pole saw. about 2 pages of adjustments, assembly.
Total rest of book was safety.
However, the pages dedicated to showing how to properly cut an overhead branch is fantastic, since I imagine many people pick these up and have never used a chain based tool before. Might save someone from knocking themselves silly, or worse.
 
 
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