Keen-eyed observers will have noticed that the MQ and IIB Knowledge Centers now have a floating “Contact Us” overlay at the bottom-right of the page. There’s a bit of history there but long story short, for a while there was no connection from the KC’s to the tech writer team.
Morag and I have been lobbying behind the scenes to get KC error reporting reinstated. Not long ago there was a web form that pre-filled the URL of the page being reported. Then there was per-page commenting online, then nothing at all. For a brief time Morag and I had confidential internal email addresses with which to report errors and request updates but were advised not to publish them.
So I’m happy that we now have an official means to do so. The new overlay panel opens an email addressed to ibmkc at ibm dot com when you click it, but the URL is no longer captured for you. When I tried reporting something to that email address I received back a human-written reply saying my request had been forwarded to the appropriate team, and copying the internal emails I’m not supposed to give out. Which is what I assume will happen should you submit a report.
Since we are now using a common reporting point for KC updates, I’d recommend a few things to help the routing along:
- Put the product name in the subject line.
- Put the URL you are reporting near the top of the email. Unlike previous versions of the IC and KC that were in HTML frames, the URL in the browser address bar is now kept current as you move from page to page. Copy that and paste into the email.
- The slug (i.e. the “bq28120_” bit before .htm in the URL) is a lot less reliable across product versions due to significant restructuring of the content. Used to be great as a search key, not so much anymore unless you know which KC version it lives in. Please don’t send bare slugs.
- I’m told that it is better to put small, atomic updates in each email rather than combining them. That makes it easier for a tech writer to tackle them than if he or she has to deal with a list of 20 things in a single email.
My lobbying pitch was that the ability of the community to drive improvements back into the docs is essential. There’s no “Missing Manual” book for MQ in part because we’ve all helped fix the manual. I’m very happy that we can do so once again.