Creating user guides for your community

:loudspeaker: Discouse has a knowledge management plugin called the Documentation Management Plugin that may be a much better alternative than the user guides described in this topic. You can see how the plugin work here on Meta.

Your install is up, everything is running fine, and users start arriving. All in all, a grand thing.

Then the questions start: How do I upload pics? How do I edit a post? How do I use search? How do I add a cool picture like Schmedly has?

Depending on your user base, you may end up herding cats. Even with the Canned Replies Plugin installed, you will find that the same questions come up over and over again, and answering them all begins to feel like knitting fog.

Here is how I did it:

  1. Create a category for “User Guides”, make it read only for normal users.
  2. When a question arises either compose a guide, or answer it in topic, then move the topic into the “User Guides”
  3. Add the “User Guides” category to the default categories watching setting.
  4. Keep referring users to the “User Guides”, they will eventually start helping each other, either by helping to create guides, or by pointing users with questions to the Guides category.

Here is the User Guides Category on the site I moderate.

These were all written just using the composer and screenshot tools. Many of them started as PMs between a User and I, and once we’d got them complete I just moved the PM to the Guides section.