Is the generic "you" implied in error messages?

Subject: Is the generic "you" implied in error messages?
From: David Castro <thetechwriter -at- yahoo -dot- com>
To: TECHWR-L Mailing List <TECHWR-L -at- lists -dot- raycomm -dot- com>
Date: Thu, 10 Feb 2000 10:33:01 -0800 (PST)

I'm having an interesting discussion with a programmer, regarding the error
messages that I'm reviewing.

He says that he's not into grammar and such, yet he's making some good points.

I rewrote this error:

"This item cannot be deleted."

to say:

"You cannot delete this item."

so that we have consistently active wording. The active/passive doesn't matter
as much to this particular error message as it does to others.

But what he pointed out is that users might take my rewrite to mean "*you*
can't delete the item, but someone else might, so if you want to delete it, ask
around and see if someone else can." We have a very non-technical audience
(hospital workers), so I think he may be right.

Do you think that the generic you is implied in error messages?

-David Castro
techwrtr -at- crl -dot- com
thetechwriter -at- yahoo -dot- com
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