Good documents are never written alone. Think about how you normally create an engaging document. Usually you have one or more technical writers working to create content, while several readers provide feedback on the usefulness and clarity of the content.
Using Confluence makes such collaboration on creation of documents a very convenient and powerful one. Confluence has many features that were specifically designed for collaboration – mentions, email notifications, sharing of pages, page commenting.
The standard comment system is quite good and allows conducting serious discussions, but it is inconvenient to use when you want to discuss some minor issues relating to the specific locations in a document; it is absolutely especially uncomfortable if such discussions are just a few. When using the standard comment system, the quoted text and the comments themselves are separated from each other and it becomes quite easy to get lost in them. Other methods for contextually reviewing documents, are not included in Confluence by default.
Don’t just comment on pages – Talk them over!
Talk plugin adds even more flexibility to the collaboration possibilities in Confluence. Now you can post discussions at any location of the page, conduct discussions and solve the important issues.
Let’s take a look at the basic functions of Talk.
Creating a new discussion in edit mode. You simply add a Talk macro to any location of the page and write a question which will initiate the discussion.
Participate in discussions in the view mode of the page without switching to the edit mode.
Editing and deleting responses. If you made a mistake during typing your reply or it is no longer relevant, it can be edited or removed.
E-mail notifications about the new Talks and responses. All pages watchers receive notifications of new discussions and replies. If you have “Autowatch” option enabled in your profile, then after adding your comment you automatically become a watcher and will be notified of the discussion progressing.
It is always possible to attract a new discussion participant with the help of@mentions. You simply write @ and the name of the person. He will automatically become a watcher of the page and receive e-mail notifications.
If you find the expressive means of a plain text not enough, you can use the good old wiki-markup. It makes highlighting phrases and adding links to the text very easy.
So, how can my team use Talk?
Let us look at some examples of the Talk plugin use.
Technical writer and the team
Elena is a technical writer in a small development team. She collects information from all the team members in order to create a convenient and useful product documentation using Confluence.
When Elena writes some part of the text which may not be clear enough to the reader, she adds a Talk with the question “Is everything clear here?” When Elena doubts that she had accurately documented the information from the developer, she adds the following text in Talk with the question “@Bill Is everything correct here?”.
Anyone wishing to follow the documentation writing process will receive email notifications about the new discussions on the page; they can always help Elena in order to prove that their team provides only the best documentation.
Employee and manager
Fernando is the Head of a small distributed team of system administrators. All of his employees reside in different countries and have different time zones. At the end of the week, each employee writes a report to Fernando using Confluence on the work done during the week and the problems encountered. It is very convenient both for employees and Fernando himself.
Fernando writes the questions that have arisen in the comments to the pages of reports. A report can cause more than 2-3 questions, and in this case the communication becomes really confusing; there were times when Fernando had to call his employee late at night or early in the morning in order to understand what was it about.
Now Fernando can use Talk to ask questions about specific incidents or tasks performed. This saves the employees’ time – now they always understand what exactly the manager asks them.
Not bad, is it?
Let’s see how it works.