Knowledge Base Documentation Woes

I have something against Knowledge Base modules. My complaint is this – they’re all crap!

Knowledge Base modules are supposed to be this repository for a given service, and this repository is supposed to provide all kinds of helpful Q&A-type articles to make using the service easier and more efficient. They’re typically intended to be a first-line support item, to be used by the end-user _before_ calling customer support and bugging an operator or a technician with your problem or question. It’s a pretty nice idea – in theory.

The trouble comes in when you actually try to use one of these so-called Knowledge Base modules. I have, as yet, to find a single one that actually provides me with any useful knowledge. The way I figure it, at least half of my queries into a Knowledge Base turn up zero results. The rest of the queries usually only produce a list of ‘related’ articles that have nothing to do whatsoever with what I actually want to know. They reason _these_ articles show up at all is because the search term(s) I entered happened to be mentioned once or twice in the course of explaining how to do something else. Usually after a couple of tries, I just throw my hands up in exasperation and dial the customer support number – only to have them refer me _back_ to the Knowledge Base. ((Just for the record, I’ll have none of that. I make them give me my answer and explain that the Knowledge Base didn’t have the answer I needed.))

This all goes along with the problem that documentation for most things also leaves something to be desired. I know, I hate writing documentation, too. It’s a pain in the neck and can often double the time it takes to release the product to the public. But for the end-user, that documentation is a critical part of using the service or software and can be the deal-breaker if it’s poorly done.

One thought on “Knowledge Base Documentation Woes”

  1. I feel your pain.

    I do the same thing as you do when a Tech Support person refers me to the knowledge base. It should be understood that if I am submitting a web ticket for help, or calling into the support line that I ALREADY HAVE checked the knowledge base and found it wanting.

    I have to say though that as far as ease of finding answers AND the quality of answers you find, the NETAPP support knowledge base is second to none.

    VMWare has great KB articles – if you can find them. I think its a tie between them and Cisco for the worst support site in terms of finding precisely what you want without wanting to bite someone in the face.

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