Hints and tips via Twitter
Posted by Sarah Maddox
Twitter is ubiquitous. People will read tweets because they’re short and punchy and because they go where we go. Rumour has it that, in contrast, people don’t read manuals. 🙂 We’ve been trying a few different ways of using Twitter’s sweetness in and around our documentation. Our latest experiment is called “Tips via Twitter”. I’m interested to see how it will work out.
We’re encouraging people to tweet hints and tips about our products. What’s more, we publish a live Twitter stream on a page in the documentation. This is what it looks like:
Kicking off the project
We’ve started with one of our products called Confluence wiki. On the screenshot above, the blue section labelled “ConfluenceTips” is actually a constantly-rolling stream of tweets. You can see it in action on the “Tips via Twitter” page in the Confluence documentation.
The idea is that people will enjoy sharing their hints and tips in an interactive Twitter stream, and will enjoy seeing their tips appear in the documentation. We’re trying the experiment for Confluence first – so we’re inviting people to tweet tips about the wiki. If it works out, then we’ll do it for another of our products, an issue tracker called JIRA.
If you like, you could tweet a hint about Confluence right now, and see it appear on the documentation page. Log in to Twitter, then click this Twitter link to get you started. Replace the words “My tip” with your hint. Be nice now! 😉
Embedding the Twitter stream
I’ve used the Confluence Widget Connector (that’s a wiki macro) to embed the stream of tweets into the page. The stream of tweets is the result of a Twitter search: http://search.twitter.com/search?q=ConfluenceTips
This is the wiki markup for the Widget Connector, as I’ve used it on the “Tips via Twitter” documentation page:
Things that may go wrong
There are a few things that may go wonky with this experiment.
The most obvious is that maybe nobody will tweet. If that happens, the stream will dry up and we’ll have a big empty box on the documentation page. Luckily, we have a keen tweeter called @ConfluenceTips whose tweets show up in the search results too. Thank you @ConfluenceTips! I’ve also created a set of tweets that I used to seed the stream when I announced the experiment to the world. I’m hoping this will help to encourage other tweeters and give them an idea of what a tweeted tip may look like.
Another problem may be that people start tweeting weird or bothersome messages. I’ll be monitoring the stream. If necessary, I’ll remove it from the documentation page.
Anyone else tweeting hints and tips?
Let me know if you’re using Twitter for hints and tips, maybe publishing them in the documentation too, or doing something else totally cool.
About Sarah MaddoxTechnical writer, author and blogger in Sydney
Posted on 22 June 2010, in atlassian, Confluence, technical writing, wiki and tagged atlassian, Confluence, hints and tips, social media, technical documentation, technical writing, tips via Twitter, Twitter, wiki. Bookmark the permalink. 15 Comments.