Can Twitter be used for technical documentation? (Hint: No.)

Interesting post on Anne Gentle’s blog, Just Write Click, in which a technical communications student from the University of Minnesota asks:

Can Twitter really be used for documentation…?

The answer, of course, is no. Or is it? It depends on how you want to describe “documentation”.

Your customer is not going to look up CLI command using Twitter, but Anne sees some “documentation” use cases that could possibly be met with Twitter:

Sure, people are using Twitter for posting tips and tricks and … for Twitter chats…. Twitter can be used for the goals met with traditional documentation when the goals are customer support or service, engagement, adoption, research and feedback loops, …. So yes, Twitter can be used for documentation, when documentation’s goals align with some Twitter use cases.

I think most of those use cases fall under “customer support”, which is where your customers go when your documentation fails. (And “engagement” seems more like marcomm than tech comms to me.)

Twitter is closer to the telephone or radio than it is to electronic or paper publishing. And as such, it’s more suited to customer service and support, and marketing, than it is to instructional or reference documentation.