Wednesday, 15 February 2012

How To Talk Geek

Let's make some sweeping generalisations shall we. There are two sorts of people in the world, the geeks and the users. Both speak different languages and rarely fully understand each other. Here is a rough guide to making yourself understandable.

"My computer isn't working" tells me nothing. Is there no power? Is it crashing? Is it not doing what you expect it to? Be specific. I don't want to know it's got an error message saying something about 'invalid something'. I want to know it's got an error message that says 'Invalid parameter in field 2.' If you can't be specific, I can't help you.

Read everything. I can't tell you the amount of times something bad has happened because a user hasn't read a prompt and just pressed Yes. If you have done that, I will mock you.

Don't ask stupid questions. "It says 'press OK to continue'. What should I do?" is a stupid question.

Before you even talk to me, restart your machine. There's a 79.82% chance that I'm going to ask you to do that anyway.

Oh, and don't ask "What was it?" unless you actually want to hear the answer.

As an epilogue from the users to the geeks...

My number one rule for you is 'Keep It Simple'. I didn't spend my childhood tapping away on a keyboard in my bedroom. I spent it topping up my Vitamin D in a field like normal children. "You need to restart the spooling service" doesn't help me. I'm still lost. I don't want to spend my time listening to how clever you are, I want you to solve my problem.

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