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Some people are crying out for good Help

March 27, 2009

Despite all claims to the contrary, there are many people actually requesting decent Help for a product. I’ve been doing some voluntary keying of records for the World Archives Project, and they recently released a non-beta version of the keying tool. The blog comments related to the release are revealing. Here are a few:

Now the tool has been shaped and refined lets all work toward improving project-specific examples and field help.

Much more work needs to be done on the project specific help fields. I think that the linked ‘HELP’ fields should be updated regularly with all the problems/answered questions that keyers or arbitrators bring up. … If the help fields were regularly updated with more specific and detailed information it would not be necessary for established keyers or new keyers to have to keep reading all the ‘advice’ given in the information boards. … PLEASE, PLEASE update the help field with all the relevant instructions.

You need to do more than just update the help field. You need have something like your start help pop-ups to let people know that the help field has been changed.

I agree as well re the field helps. This is the one big weakness. You can be entering information accurately according to the field help but not realise the instructions have changed int he message boards. … Try to find the information in the message boards can be a nightmare as there are so many posting and if you search on keywords in the title you don’t find everything depending on what has been selected. … People will lose patience if they don’t get clear easy to follow instructions that don’t change every 5 minutes. I know there has been times when I want to give up cos I have got frustrated with the fact the information on the message boards contradicts the field help information.

EVERY project needs clarification on help issues and devoting the time to set it up before releasing the project will cause better and more consistent data and less headaches for everyone!

(from http://blogs.ancestry.com/worldarchivesproject/?p=214)

They have made some great improvements in the on-screen user assistance in the keying tool in this new version. By default, Getting Started Help is provided for all areas — no doubt regular keyers will turn this off fairly quickly, but when you start on a new Project type, it should be useful. Here’s an example:

User assistance for World Archives Project keying tool

User assistance for World Archives Project keying tool

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