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Rameau says

^ bad idea. :p
:D Let me guess: People get the item for free from pirate sites and come get the documentation? Some authors (including me) don’t mind this. Most of us, authors create the item to be easy to implement, so it’s not the lack of documentation that would make the average Joe stop installing that pirated item ;) . That’s why I added:

Just that it shouldn’t be mandatory for authors.
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ChillThemes says

I host all my documentation online and link to it on each item’s page, don’t see how it’s detrimental, or a bad thing. Then again, I mostly create WordPress themes which can’t be ripped.

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businesswebsitedev_com says

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.

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pjtops says

Hi businesswebsitedev_com,

Sorry about the frustrations you’re having. One thing I’m curious about, is how you’d rate your skills, out of ten in: 1.HTML 2. CSS 3. JavaScript 4. PHP

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businesswebsitedev_com says

Hi businesswebsitedev_com, Sorry about the frustrations you’re having. One thing I’m curious about, is how you’d rate your skills, out of ten in: 1.HTML 2. CSS 3. JavaScript 4. PHP

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.

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businesswebsitedev_com says

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.

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pjtops says

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

Could you please provide a link to this plugin you documented, so that we can all have a better idea and example of what you consider good documentation? I also currently have just one item, with all its documentation available online, if you could look at that too and provide some feedback that would be great.

The level of skill someone has is directly related to how useful they find the type of documentation provided. For example, a simple template with the docs made specifically for a HTML “newbie” might be very large simply because it has to go over all the basics of HTML as they explain how to customize the template. A newbie will find such docs very usefull & helpfull, but a HTML expert may quickly get bored with having to read what they consider unnecessary details, stop reading it altogether, or miss some important details hidden within all the detailed ‘basic stuff’. Trying to get the right balance and serve both audiences can be tricky, which is why I usually state in the docs that some basic HTML & CSS skills are required to customize an item, and include some useful links to HTML tutorial sites for the ‘newbies’.

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pjtops says

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 Documentation

Using 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”.

This 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 …”

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businesswebsitedev_com says


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 Documentation

Using 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”.

This 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 …”

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.

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businesswebsitedev_com says

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.

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