Can I take the "Pleases" off a web site?

Subject: Can I take the "Pleases" off a web site?
From: "Hart, Geoff" <Geoff-H -at- MTL -dot- FERIC -dot- CA>
To: "TECHWR-L" <techwr-l -at- lists -dot- raycomm -dot- com>
Date: Mon, 11 Feb 2002 15:23:22 -0500

Karen Black wonders: <<I'm trying to clean up some web pages (it's an
e-commerce site), and I wonder if, for brevity's sake, I can get the
developer to remove all instances of Please in some of the instructions.
Sometimes it is used 2 or 3 times on the same page. And we never say,
Thanks.... These are instructions, such as "Click here to see your item,"
instead of Please click here, NOTE instead of PLEASE NOTE. In other
instances, I'd leave in the Please in "Please call 1-877-xxx-xxxx to
inquire about your order.">>

Though politeness is a virtue, there's little point in cluttering the site
with "pleases"--with one exception. In straightforward instructions, the
user doesn't have any choice, so adding "please" is at best disingenuous.
However, when you're asking the user to do you a favor (e.g., register
software, tell you what they think of your site), then the "please" is a
nice gesture: they don't have to do anything for you, so asking nicely is
more likely to motivate them to respond. Even then, "please" is like pepper:
adding a little bit adds flavor to the site, but if you add too much, many
guests will start to dislike the taste.

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

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