Asylum seeker and Useless Assistance (@uselessassist) Twitter account creator Edward Smyda-Homa announced he will be publishing a monthly column that analyzes user discontent with user assistance on TechWhirl.com.
Every day, for more than a year now Edward has been anonymously leaking examples of poorly prepared user assistance from various industries, as well as the accompanying frustration and negative emotions, to the masses.
“I can’t in good conscience allow certain writers in our trade to destroy grammar, information retrievability, and basic concepts of minimalism for product users around the world with this massive unhelpful gibberish they are stealthily publishing,” said Edward. “Honestly, what kind of tech writer would title a section ‘Function Elucidation’?”
Leaks to date have amounted to over 1500 retweets. “Most of the tweets are about specific companies, so I didn’t feel comfortable with disclosures that I thought could endanger tech writers.” said Edward.
Instead of traditional surveys and focus groups, Edward has experimented with mining Twitter, which offers an untapped, real-time glimpse at how users react to assistance. By focusing on negative sentiments, Edward has been able to identify and categorize the most common gripes.
TechWhirl made his name public with his consent. “Edward provides an invaluable service to technical communicators and user experience teams with @uselessassist,” said Connie Giordano, Editor of TechWhirl.com. “He joins a roster of talented and able thought leaders who provide new perspectives on our industry through TechWhirl.com. We are pleased to have him as part of our team.”
“TechWhirl’s readership comprises tech writers from many industries worldwide, so I’m grateful for the opportunity to address them,” said Edward. “At the very least I hope the findings I share in my articles will trigger discussion on how quality issues in our trade can be effectively addressed. I also hope to embolden others to step forward in their respective industries and organizations by showing that people truly care about user assistance.”
Watch TechWhirl for the first Useless Assistance column in mid-October.
Julian Assange was not available for comment.