Do users exist?

Subject: Do users exist?
From: "Hart, Geoff" <Geoff-H -at- MTL -dot- FERIC -dot- CA>
To: "TECHWR-L" <techwr-l -at- lists -dot- raycomm -dot- com>
Date: Tue, 9 Oct 2001 09:00:26 -0400

Guy Haas wondered: <<I don't believe in users. I have never seen one; never
heard from one. Can you prove to me that users exist?>>

Heck, if you're going all solipsist on us, I can't even prove that I
exist--or that you do, for that matter. Perhaps I really am what Andrew
Plato dubbed "The Geoff Hart autoresponder". <g>

But seriously, though, I missed the original context for your question, so I
can't be sure I'm addressing what you're really asking. If you mean the
stereotypes we create to help us understand the user, then no, these
stereotypes usually don't exist--though if we've done our job correctly,
many of the users will behave sufficiently similarly that the stereotypes
help us write well. If you're asking whether we can have anything more than
theoretical contact with the users, then I can report that we've had
training sessions for our software in which we specifically discussed the
printed documentation and online help with the users in an effort to do a
better job of both.

--Geoff Hart, FERIC, Pointe-Claire, Quebec
geoff-h -at- mtl -dot- feric -dot- ca
"User's advocate" online monthly at

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