Category Archives: humour

Horse meetup found in technical writer’s blog post



Rewarding humour in online help forums

One of the contributors in our online question-and-answer forum, Daniel Stevens, has a quirky and amusing style of writing. His entries are always relevant, but he nevertheless manages to inject some humour that makes for easy reading and invites quick responses from other forum users.

My first aim in writing this post was to share the fun of reading Daniel’s forum entries. Then I thought about the bigger picture. The idea of humour in an online help forum is an interesting phenomenon, especially for technical communicators.

First, the fun. Here’s a screenshot of one of Daniel’s posts, called Is there a flood control function on the “Like” button?

And here’s another, Why can’t I upload icons for new priority, issue and workflow step entries?

Have you encountered similar witty posts in user forums? What do you think about the idea of rewarding such entries? This particular forum, Atlassian Answers, is clever about awarding badges and points for popular questions and good answers. Each contributor to the forum builds up a “karma score”, which encourages people to keep contributing. So, should there be a specific score category for funny entries?

As one of my colleagues pointed out, the social review site Yelp invites readers to click a button saying whether a review is “useful”, “funny”, or “cool”. Should a user forum do the same?

If the forum starts rewarding humour entries, might that lead to irrelevant and silly content? My opinion is that there may be some of that, but on the whole people are in the forum to get a question answered, or to help other people with their questions. A touch of humour just makes the posts flow better, and most people will recognise that fact. People who don’t have a bent for humour won’t bother to spend the time trying to be funny. Or is that a naive assumption? :)

Outcasts make good – semicolon, hyphen and parenthesis unite

A thought struck me in the shower this morning. I laughed out loud. Perhaps only a technical writer would. ;)

The semicolon, hyphen and parenthesis. They’re the pariahs of our world. Yet they’ve got together and created a new semantic symbol. ; -)

Content management LOL

Ready for a Friday chuckle?

I took this picture in a stairwell, then tweeted it:

This has to be an important document! 

Content management LOL

Content management LOL

Here’s the reply I received from Alan J. Porter:

I think that may be taking content management a little too far!!

While Michael O’Neill quips:

Can’t tell if it’s a usability fail or win. ;P

LOL (laugh out loud)! :)

Technical writers of the world unite – #twotwu

“If technical communicators ruled the world, I would take on…” A few weeks ago, I was given that sentence fragment and told to speak on the topic for five minutes. My audience was the group of technical communicators at TCANZ 2010.

What would you have said?

As far as I remember, I started by saying I would take on everyone in the world who does not know what technical communicators do. This rose from my heartfelt dismay when people ask, “What do you actually do all day?” ;)

I then wittered on about the opportunities that modern technology offers us to do just that. Blogging, Twitter, wikis, the technology that makes it possible to hold doc sprints… You know what I mean.

More recently at ASTC (NSW) 2010, Neil James proposed the idea that we may move towards a single, unified communication profession.

Owl, by Ryan MaddoxAnd now, in a sublime conjunction of those two trains of thought, TWOTWU is born. :)

This post is just for fun. It’s not a serious attempt to rule the world or to unite all technical communicators! I want to see what cool ideas and discussions this post may generate, bearing in mind that sometimes the most creative ideas arise from animated, casual discussion amongst friends with a common passion.

If you’d like to join in, add a comment to this post, or tweet on Twitter with tag #twotwu. I’ll collect the tweets and add them as comments to this post every now and then. If you like, you can subscribe to the comments on this post.

To wit, twotwu ;)

Ryan Maddox drew the owl, especially for this post. Thank you Ryan!


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