The Wordsmith Weekly

Inline Feedback Incentives

June 29, 2017

What's in it for readers?

With inline feedback, I have a way to ask arbitrary question to my readers, in order to learn more about them, and ultimately improve my docs to reflect my true audience’s needs.

The thing I’m currently wrestling with is how to make inline feedback engaging for my readers. Currently, I just give them an honest request for help: I tell them that the data helps me understand them more, so that I can make the docs match their needs. But I don’t know if that’s enough. Or, rather, I wonder if there’s clever ways to make readers happy to engage.

One idea that my manager had yesterday is to expose the results in the response. In other words, when you respond, you get to see how everyone else responded, too. Twitter does this with their polls, and I personally find it to be quite rewarding.

Another idea is to tailor the doc based on their response. For example, suppose I ask “how much experience do you have with the Performance panel?” at the top of a tutorial on the Performance panel. I can offer to tailor the doc based on their response. In other words, if someone says they have zero experience, then I can offer a version of the doc that provides more explanation. If they say they have a lot of experience, I can offer a drastically concise version.