Chapter 5: Conversation and Community. BOB FURU GENEVIEVE JUNGERS MICHELLE BALDWIN. Overview. Blogs provide a way to link to customers, and they also provide a way for customers to link back to you.
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Gentle believes that reading blogs is the best starting point for blogging. This gives you a sense of the community, how often people post, how long it takes to answer questions, and the key contributors to the site.
Read blogs often before writing one yourself.
After you gain a feel for the site, start by answering questions.
She went into minute detail about how she started her blog. Basically, she proposes that blogs be updated at predictable intervals like every Monday and Wednesday. She mentioned that she started with an internal blog before going public. This gave her a chance to learn about post and commenting frequency, where comments originated, how to respond, and how to grow readership.
Again, Gentle seemed to state the obvious in this section by telling you to write posts ahead of time or recruit guest bloggers if you were going to be away for awhile. She did this while on maternity leave, and did not lose readership during that time.
Use a DITA map or similar as a query, get the content out of the wiki database, then turn it into the format needed by user assistance. Import the files into the help authoring tool and recompile the help.
Other was to incorporate user content includes using screencasts created by users, searching Google for troubleshooting articles and getting permission to repost them, and incorporating wikis that with the author’s permission and proper licensing agreements in place.
(It seems like getting the proper permissions and licensing agreements could be a very complicated and slow process. Would lawyers be needed to make sure everything is legal? What are the consequences if something is used without proper licensing or permission from the author?)
If your site has “Live Help” links, consider volunteering to be a staffer for an hour or longer. Some questions are answered by scripted response programs written by artificial intelligence programs for frequently asked questions.
Gentle lists several of these programs, including:
IRCza, a helper robot that is a natural language chat robot for IRC
AIMbots, offered by AOL Instant Messengers. It can tell you when movies are going to show.
Artificial Intelligence Mark Up Language (AIML) is an XML-compliant language. It facilitates creating chatbots with various personalities and kinds of knowledge. Connecting a chatbot to a knowledge base of frequent responses might let you offer a virtual conversation with responses to a client.
(This stuff is way confusing—does anyone know anything about these programs?)