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RTFM rant

Discussion in 'Amps and Cabs [BG]' started by abarson, Oct 16, 2020.

  1. abarson


    Nov 6, 2003
    Santa Cruz
    I don't know how many threads I've gone through where if the owner had just read the owner's manual he would have found his answer. In this day and age of the 'Net, they're pretty easy to find, if you don't have a hard copy. It's about the same effort as putting the question on TB.
    On the flip side, a lot of manuals I've come across are really shoddy, either lacking necessary information or not presenting it in a useful manner. This is truer for older or cheaper stuff, but even some new ones are pretty bad. It can't be that hard to write a good manual.
  2. agedhorse

    agedhorse Supporting Member Commercial User

    Feb 12, 2006
    Davis, CA (USA)
    Development Engineer-Mesa, Product Support-Genz Benz
    You might be surprised how much time and energy goes into writing a good, accurate, comprehensive manual.
  3. pravus


    Feb 5, 2013
    Denver, CO
    Having worked with Open Source software for many years now I can just say that pointing people to obvious sections of a manual is pretty typical. I think people just like interacting with others and having their questions answered by an actual person.

    I'll also agree that writing good documentation is extremely hard and time consuming. It's a dying art in the software world.
  4. QweziRider

    QweziRider Supporting Member

    Sep 15, 2008
    Northern Nevada, U.S.
    That was always the last step in any project back in my software developer days (all in-house logistics related software). Annoyed me to no end to go to all that effort and get asked by someone over in dispatch, "How does this work?"
  5. I wrote and illustrated technical maintenance and repair manuals for commercial and military aircraft for 26 years. I reckon in the consumer electronics world it is considered an overhead cost. Regardless, there is no excuse for substandard documentation.

    As a consumer I was very impressed with the manuals I got for some Mackie products over the years.
    JPDsma, hbarcat, -Asdfgh- and 16 others like this.
  6. Passinwind

    Passinwind I know nothing. Commercial User

    Dec 3, 2003
    Columbia River Gorge, WA.
    Owner/Designer &Toaster Tech Passinwind Electronics
    Greg Mackie used to write them himself back in the day, he had a very funny writing style. Rane was always pretty well known for combining solid tech info with humor as well.
    Last edited: Oct 16, 2020
  7. jeff7bass


    Apr 9, 2009
    I read the manual on my Carvin BX1200 because it had no many functions. On all the rest, I didn't really need to read it. Just plug it in and start turning knobs.
  8. two fingers

    two fingers Opinionated blowhard. But not mad about it. Gold Supporting Member

    Feb 7, 2005
    Eastern NC USA
    Agreed. A good percentage of questions here are answered in the manual for the products at the core of the questions.

    You (and your team) certainly pulled it off with the TT800. I'm a technician for a living. Deep-in-the-weeds data doesn't scare me. You guys included some of that. But the manual for the TT is actually an entertaining read. I could have read it cover to cover if I hadn't even bought one.

    When you can do THAT, you've accomplished something.
  9. sunbeast

    sunbeast Supporting Member

    Jul 19, 2006
    Los Angeles, CA
    Also related, but it drives me crazy to see people post incorrect information about a product they own and how it works based on preconceptions or biases when the true functionality is explained clearly in the manual. This kind of misinformation spreads rampantly on TB once it’s out there, because so few people read manuals (or read them critically/attentively).
  10. sunbeast

    sunbeast Supporting Member

    Jul 19, 2006
    Los Angeles, CA
    Agreed- I’ve always found Mesa manuals to present info in an easy to understand way, all the way back to my first D-180/Bass 400 amps
    hbarcat, SirMjac28, Al Kraft and 6 others like this.
  11. beans-on-toast

    beans-on-toast Supporting Member

    Aug 7, 2008
    There are lazy folks that can't be bothered to read the manual. The title of the thread often starts with "Educate Me". Why not have someone else do the homework for them. Asking questions is reasonable.
    SirMjac28 likes this.
  12. JimChjones


    Aug 6, 2017
    SE England
    I think it can. Consider the audience. It needs to be comprehensible to a perhaps not too bright beginner without sounding condescending to an experienced professional.
  13. Organisational level (remove and replace components) manuals for military programs are written strictly to an 8th grade reading level. Don’t want to confuse anyone. :D
  14. agedhorse

    agedhorse Supporting Member Commercial User

    Feb 12, 2006
    Davis, CA (USA)
    Development Engineer-Mesa, Product Support-Genz Benz
    It’s a fine line how much technical information should be placed in the body of a manual. Over the years, my personal evolution has been to use technical data in the body of the text sparingly and where necessary to convey information.

    I now prefer to place the technical specifications and data at the back of the manual, something that appears to make a manual more accessible to the average player.
    hbarcat, Plectrum72, Avigdor and 21 others like this.
  15. Zooberwerx

    Zooberwerx Gold Supporting Member

    Dec 21, 2002
    Virginia Beach, VA
    I run into more than a few folks who have poor comprehension skills...it's that simple in many instances.

    In the words of Col. Nathan Jessup "...I'm here to help."

  16. 4stringfarley

    4stringfarley Supporting Member

    Nov 4, 2015
    Cajun Country
    you should look at some of the tascam manuals. Translated from Japanese with little in regards to how the English language works.
  17. Matty Koff

    Matty Koff

    Aug 21, 2014
    IDK, sometimes it's nice when someone knows something off of the top of their head and can lay out an answer in one or two sentences vs trying to find a specific answer to one specific thing in a 40 page book in small print in a paragraph that may or may not directly answer a question.

    I tend to read manuals on new gear, but sometimes those manuals can be convoluted and don't speak in simple terms that make sense to the average joe.

    I'm personally more of an audio learner.. as in I retain and comprehend what I hear more with a lot more ease than what I read. There have been instances where I have had to re-read something multiple times before it made sense to me, where to hear it said aloud made sense the first time.

    Kind of like, despite taking sign language as an elective twice in highschool, I got pretty good at signing, but making sense of what others would sign to me I'd often have to ask them to slow down. Had this concepts of programming teacher I despised in college because she'd send us home with a chapter to read, a flow charting assignment based on the reading that was graded.. and then only after we'd been graded on our work would she audibly teach the lesson.

    To be fair to agedhorse, the manual for the WD800 was pretty easy to make sense of other than two conflicting statements that made me hop on TB and double check regarding headphones and the directout with no other speaker load.

    My two cents.. if it bothers you, don't reply to their question. But if you know something off the top of your head, I.E. you don't have to look it up in the manual yourself, is it really that big a deal to take 30 seconds to a minute to answer their question? I mean.. you're on talkbass reading threads and posting.. seems like you have the time to spare.
    mcnach, AEDW, Wasnex and 5 others like this.
  18. ardgedee


    May 13, 2018
    I prefer that sort of organization anyway. Grouping all the specs/data in one place make them an easier to use reference. Spelunking a procedural guide to find out whether a device is suitable for a given purpose wastes my time.
  19. Medicine Man

    Medicine Man

    Apr 10, 2015
    Ive owned Ikea furniture with better documentation than some of these manuals. My physical desk litereally had better documentation than my digital desk that sits on it.
  20. Killing Floor

    Killing Floor Supporting Member

    Feb 7, 2020
    Austin, TX
    It's no surprise the first reply you've received. The manuals for my Mesa gear are among the only useful docs out there. They're not over the top technical documents so much as user guides with all the errata one might want. Well done. Most of the midi gear I use may as well just include a sticker, no useful information.
    hbarcat, Chef and Al Kraft like this.

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