Include error messages? (Was Re: Fw: Why do we put so many warnings in our manuals?)

Subject: Include error messages? (Was Re: Fw: Why do we put so many warnings in our manuals?)
From: rbilbao -at- us -dot- amadeus -dot- net
To: "TECHWR-L" <techwr-l -at- lists -dot- raycomm -dot- com>
Date: Tue, 30 Jul 2002 16:17:22 -0400

Tuples -at- aol -dot- com said: <I'll tell you this: after photographing many accidents and
products for
liability cases, I can tell you that people will sue regardless of merit.>

Apparently, this view is rampant. I was involved in an accident a while back.
This guy hit me (from behind) and completely dislodged my jeep's frame.
Thankfully I was unharmed. But it was pretty offensive the way the insurance
person (from the guy's insurer) kept warning me that the guy's dad was a lawyer,
that if I decided to hire a lawyer the insurance company wouldn't treat me any
differently and therefore I should even bother, that he would help me to make
sure I got a decent pay-off, that I should get a note from the doctor about
suffering and so on, when I kept reiterating that I was not hurt. All I wanted
was for them to fix my car. The insurance person just couldn't comprehend that
someone would want fair coverage for actual damages and wouldn't go to court to
try to get more. He kept treating the insurance company's pay-off money as
though it were his own, making himself out to be the good guy watching out for
my interests.

<If we were to warn the user about every possible way the product could be
misused, we would have to provide a separate book of warnings.>

Speaking of which, what's the consensus on this: a product manager wants me to
include a list of screenshots of all the possible error messages a user might
encounter using our software with a short (2-3 sentence) description of what it
means because the product has no Help (yes, i know!) included with this first
release. And she wants it done in a text file that will be included on the CD!
I'm fairly new at this but my gut tells me there's got to be a better way. Have
any of you encountered this? How did you handle it?


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