Re: Consequences of inadequate docs/training

Subject: Re: Consequences of inadequate docs/training
From: "Dick Margulis " <margulis -at- mail -dot- fiam -dot- net>
To: "TECHWR-L" <techwr-l -at- lists -dot- raycomm -dot- com>
Date: Wed, 27 Mar 2002 09:24:59 -0500


Familiarity breeds contempt. When the first PCs started showing up in offices, people read the manuals. Their instinctive fear was that pressing the wrong key would cause the machine to become inoperable (or blow up in their faces). At the very least, people feared that any mistake would get them fired.

Now we joke that people don't read software manuals, and mostly that's true, because people are more realistic about their ability to recover from errors.

But in the Real World (as distinct from the average office environment), people actually study their manuals. They do so because they understand--or are made to understand by their supervisors--that mistakes matter.

So for equipment manuals (whether for weapons, nuclear plants, medical devices, or manufacturing machinery), I'd say put in as many warnings and cautions as are necessary--no more and no fewer--and believe that they will be read and understood.


"Martin Page" <mpage -at- csl -dot- co -dot- uk> wrote:

>I haven't seen any modern weapons manuals, but they must be full of
>warnings - e.g. "Don't call down an air strike within 50m of your position."
>"Establish positive identification before firing on target" and so on.
>So, how do you avoid overloading the manuals with warnings and cautions to
>the extent that you make the reader blasé or destroy their faith in the
>(This probably also applies to other critical real-time systems, e.g.
>medical software)

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