Re: Writing error messages?

Subject: Re: Writing error messages?
From: iain -at- hairydog -dot- co -dot- uk (Iain Harrison)
To: techwr-l -at- lists -dot- raycomm -dot- com
Date: Wed, 1 Mar 2000 16:59 +0000 (GMT Standard Time)

> The worst error message I've ever encountered is also the most common
> one:
> the dread "Abort, retry, fail?" from DOS. This fails to meet just about
> all
> the possible criteria for a good error message:
> - it doesn't clearly explain the problem that occurred
> - it uses words that are either synonymous (abort = fail?) or that are
> mere
> placebos (I don't recall "retry" ever working)
> - it provides no information on what you can do about the problem
> - it provides no bug-tracking information that tech. support or the
> developers can use to figure out where the problem occurred and what
> they
> can do about fixing it in subsequent software releases.

I don't think that I have ever seen that message without a preceding line
that tells me what has gone wrong.

Something like:

Drive a: not ready
Abort, retry, fail?

OK, it's not wonderful, but it isn't as bad as you suggest.

Abort = give up this bit of the task
retry = try again
fail = give up this bit of the task and report the device as not working

--

Iain

iain -at- hairydog -dot- co -dot- uk
iainh -at- cix -dot- co -dot- uk




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