[docs] [issue19980] Improve help('non-topic') response

Terry J. Reedy report at bugs.python.org
Sat Dec 14 02:34:52 CET 2013

New submission from Terry J. Reedy:

>>> help(1)
# help on int
>>> help(b'a')
# help on bytes
>>> help('a')
no Python documentation found for 'a'

The reason for this unhelpful response is that strings are treated differently from all other non-class objects. (msg205861 thought this a bug.) The strings value is matched against strings that would be recognized at the help> prompt given after help().

>>> help('topics')
# list of TOPICS
>>> help('LISTS')
# information about mutable sequences

Suggestion: add something more about what to do. Example enhanced response:

No Python documentation found for 'a'. Try help('help') for information on recognized strings or help(str) for help on the str class.

I believe this could be backported since help() is intented for interactive use only.

assignee: docs at python
components: Documentation, Library (Lib)
messages: 206157
nosy: docs at python, terry.reedy
priority: normal
severity: normal
stage: needs patch
status: open
title: Improve help('non-topic') response
type: enhancement
versions: Python 3.4

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