Computer users have long been frustrated by software problems. It is unusual that the Help menu actually helps with the software problems they have. At the same time, computer science students and professionals have been using search engines to get help with the complex software they use. The use of search engines to get help with software by both computer scientists and students in other disciplines is investigated. Students from all disciplines tested were found to use and be more satisfied by search engines than Help. Further investigation showed that, generally, students went to other people more than Help or search engines but found search engines and people to be the most satisfactory sources of help. Recommendations are made to improve Help systems by incorporating aspects of search engines.
Welty C. Usage of and Satisfaction with Online Help vs. Search Engines for Aid in Software Use. Submitted to ACM sigDOC 2011 Conference (special interest group on Design of Documentation). 2011 October 3-5, 2011; Tirrenia, Pisa. Italy.