“Well Documented” apparently just means there is at least one page of documentation on the theme. I’m ready to slit my wrists with the latest theme I’ve purchased.
That is my point exactly. Why not provide the documentation within a frame, like they do with the demo site and allow users to vote on a star rating, just like they do with the theme. That would allow the rating to be much more accurate.
The main issue is that stating “well documented’ when it is not well documented and is poorly documented, that allows a chargeback to be made as the item is technically both not as described and contains missing items (the well documented documentation) and that is a risk to Envato, Authors and Buyers alike.
My company creates plugins, software and websites and I personally write the documentation. Every single page, feature, box and inch is covered in the documentation. When it is quite technical, I will create two manuals, one for novice users and one for advanced users.
While I do not expects others to be this in depth, I sincerely do expect a feature to be covered in the manual. Yet in more cases than not, it is not documented at all. To make matters worse, so many themes directly rely on free plugins and the plugin (being free) has no documentation. When the theme author is asked about a problem or even just how it should be used, they refer you to the author of the free plugin. That is hardly fair.
Thank you all for your comments. While the marketplace has had a notable improvement, these issues still remain.
While I understand the position of Envato, stating “well documented” simply because some type of documentation exists does not suffice. There should be scales of documentation instead of just one default documentation. As with the support option, it is a nightmare when the item states that the author includes support, but said support does not provide real support, you are left in the dark.
I feel that there needs to be much more transparency and accuracy for at least these two items. At the end of the day, both of these issues could easily warrant a chargeback on your card due to items missing (support and/or documentation).
I know it is a tough point for envato, but I do feel that clearer tags would result in a purer marketplace. Even if “well documented” was used as default and downgraded upon investigation should any complains from buyers arise.
I recently purchased a theme and the documentation was how to upload and activate. None of the features were documented and when I contacted the author, they simply informed me that I would need to open a ticket for every single feature I wanted to know about.
It seems that some of you think I am getting at you authors. Please note that I am not. Of all our purchases, most of them have absolutely awesome with very well designed theme options that are easy to follow and include tips/hints in the theme so you know what the options do. I am only getting at authors whose themes contain no tips/hints and the documentation misses massive sections of options.
The problem is that these bad authors are getting mixed in with the good authors and you good authors should stand out from the rest due to the excellent documentation and support that you provide.
businesswebsitedev_com saidThis is terrible, and I’m not defending this kind of documentation. I’m just bringing up the newbie vs experienced-user problem that come up when writing documentation. I think all docs should have a minimum skill level disclaimer set, say 3 out of 10 for CSS and HTML : “This item is well documented, and requires some basic knowledge of CSS and HTML to be usefull. If you are not very confident in either CSS or HTML, please have a look at the following links, which have quick and easy HTML & CSS tutorials for beginners …”
Let me give you an example from the documentation of the latest theme I bought so that you can see what I mean. It is not the size of the volume that is the issue, but the way it worded makes it almost impossible to follow. See the example below. I have added bold to the sections that make absolutely no sense.
Example DocumentationUsing Category Colors for menus is so easy, you have till 6 colors. To asign them to submenus, add to submenu class ‘fcolorsub’ for example for a First color submenu item. Then you can create Overrides with those colors to assign them to categories, then you have the same color in menu and in category page.
These are just the first two lines of the documentation and as you can see, the grammar is almost impossible to follow and results in so many questions like “what is overrides and how are they created” and “if fcolorsub is an example, what is it, what does it mean and what should I enter” and “what is a category page and why would it have the same color as a menu item”.
Agreed, but that too comes with its own issues. Each person would define their level to be different. The issue here is that the documentation is written so badly that you can not read it and understand what it is supposed to mean. This is not “well documented”. When it comes to the experience level of users, they do vary drastically from first time users who do not know how to install wordpress, all the way up to experienced users and coders.
We have installed at least 200 themes, so we are usually very fast at this and have the website setup and running within 1-2 days max.
The problem is, as I mentioned, that when the documentation falls way below the line, Envato will not do anything. I honestly think that this needs to be reformed so that you can clearly see how well documented the theme really is. I understand that the definition of this could be debated until the end of time. How are you supposed to install a theme that is not like other themes and the documentation is gibberish?
As you mentioned, there is a huge gap between newbie and expert, which is an issue when writing documentation, but that is not the issue. The issue is when the documentation fails to provide instructions on how you should do something. How do you setup the theme when there are fields that are not clearly defined and the documentation does not mention them at all? When I say it is not well documented, I do not mean that it does not take my hand and walk me though it step by step, I mean that it simply misses huge swaths of options within the theme, fails to tell you what image size is used etc.
Surely it is not too much to ask that action is taken if the documentation is not well documented, no support is provided when the author states it is provided and lastly the author sends abusive emails as they think you are their competitor trying to ruin their business by reporting the areas of the theme that are missing.
I know a lot of you will be wondering what exactly I am banging on about as I can not give you a link to the theme and I can not give you a link to the documentation. If I could, you would all see what I mean by the poor quality, apart from the small example I provided. In some cases, it seems like the documentation was translated by babelfish as the sentences make absolutely no sense at all.
I really feel we are getting off topic, so I will state the main issue and request for a member of staff to reply.
Problem 1: Envato set the “well documented” tag, but when the theme is not well documented, Envato refuse to do anything about it.
Problem 2: If the author promises support, Envato will do nothing if no support is provided and more worryingly, they will do nothing if the author sends you abusive emails.
While I understand and empathize with the situation Envato is in and the legal implications they face, I genuinely think that some form of action should be taken against low quality authors so that the high quality authors can easily shine through. Also, the customers should be able to have confidence that “well documented” themes are indeed “well documented” to a standard level and support is provided if it is offered by the author. If not, then Envato should take action about the issue.
If Envato do not take action, then customers such as myself have to play a game of risk when they buy a theme as the documentation may be so bad that it can not be followed as vital items are missed out and although support is promised, none may be provided.
I am not quite sure how this relates to the documentation provided by the authors. I wrote documentation for a plugin we created and I can say that every field, every page, every action was included in great detail. I would say my skills are: 1: 8 2: 2 3: 0 4: 1
However, surely this is not the issue as the issue I am reporting is the low quality and minimalist format of so many theme documentations. You should not need to know all of the 4 items you mention to be able to read documentation, understand it and follow it as none of them really cover css, js or php coding.
Why are we getting so far off topic? The issue here is the low quality of documentation and that Envato set the rating for the documentation and then refuse point blank to do anything about it when they are incorrect.
It has both pros and cons. I think we are getting a little off topic.
The main issue is that when the item is tagged as “Well Documented” when it is not well documented, Envato (who added the tag “Well Documented”) refuse to do anything about it. Yet Envato were the ones who stated that it was “Well Documented”. Also, if no support at all is provided when the description claims to offer support, Envato will again not do anything about it.
Surely Envato should be managing and maintaining the high quality of the service to prevent negative issues such as this post.
Here is the reply I got from Envato support when I last contacted them about this issue:
we simply cannot get involved in disputes between users, authors, or buyers. As support is optional, we are unable to enforce a certain type of reply from authors.
We will definitely take a look at our processes for checking documentation in the future. If author support is absolutely vital for you, you may want to contact the author beforehand and ask about what type of support they intend to provide, or, you may wish to seek another venue for these type of digital goods that guarantees support.
So, it would seem that they did not look at the process for checking documentation. However, they may have done so as I am not in the loop. But nothing seems to have changed.
As you can see, they very clearly state that they do not enforce any reply from the authors. At the time, the author was not replying to my support tickets with any support and was instead swearing at me as they had thought I was a competitor trying to ruin their business. Finally, we got on a level field and they realized I was genuine and began providing support.
My point with this is: 1) Envato refuse to enforce support even when support is claimed to be provided in the description. 2) Envato refused to take action about the very poor documentation that was tagged as “well documented” apart from claiming that they would look at the process.
This is unnerving as I would have expected Envato to enforce the description on such items and to ensure that items guaranteed are actually delivered by the author.
maybe we are a little exaggerating
KingDog have other duties with envato and doesn’t know in absolute detail how review works. There are many envato staff members and they are specialized in certain areas.
I did not know that. Like I said, everyone makes mistakes, especially if the review process is not his area of expertise.
Regarding the documentation, authors should provide clear and descriptive help files. These files are reviewed by a staff member ( a reviewer) and he will tag the item with that Well Documented option. (not sure how this is calculated but probably comments in the item code may qualify towards earning this attribute )
Agreed. Most of them do indeed have great documentation, even if they do not cover all areas. One very common area that is entire missed is the image sizes and most of the theme options. You have to import the dummy content and then back engineer it to figure out how it works.
unfortunately errors may happen. what you can do is to contact envato official support here: http://support.envato.com/ and tell them about this issue. They will investigate the item and they will ask the author to fix the problem.
That is exactly what I did and they told me that they were only a marketplace and could not guarantee the quality of the item or documentation. You see my issue here? It seems everything is marked as well documented and when it is not, Envato are not interested in it and will take no action to improve it.
Don’t let one case destroy your opinion of the marketplace. We are a lot of authors here and most of us we write helpful documentation or tutorials to help buyers customize our items.
Indeed you do. There are so many awesome devs on themeforest and the themes are fantastic. But the problem is that when I buy an item that is tagged as “Well Documented” and I then find it is not well documented at all and is missing a heck of a lot or is unreadable due to completely messy grammar, Envato will not do anything, so I am stuck. Therefore, everyone must gamble when buying a theme because if the documentation is a complete mess, Envato will not do anything. That is the core issue here. Hence why I am bringing it to their attention and trying to get the issue fixed. This way, high quality devs such as yourself will stand out above the rest due to your excellent documentation.