Re: Dumb warnings

Subject: Re: Dumb warnings
From: Kevin McLauchlan <kmclauchlan -at- chrysalis-its -dot- com>
To: "TECHWR-L" <techwr-l -at- lists -dot- raycomm -dot- com>
Date: Thu, 31 Oct 2002 11:41:37 -0500

On Thursday 31 October 2002 08:51, Hart, Geoff wrote:
> For your edification and amusement, I offer the
> following collection of "dumb" warning messages:
> As many are unattributed, insert the standard "urban
> legend" warning here. But even those that aren't
> real are often awfully funny. Techwr-l tie-in: Don't
> be the next techwhirler whose undying prose is
> featured on this site!

I don't get it.

The very first warning in the Hygiene section was
for baby oil, and said "Keep out of reach of children".
But, I watched a medical program a month or two
ago, where babies had been playing with the bottle
and had aspirated just half a teaspoon or so of oil.
The oil slowly spread a thin coating through their
lungs, and they smothered to death over the
following couple of days, while doctors and parents
watched helplessly. The only way to remove mineral
oil from lungs is to replace the lungs... and while it
remains, every breath spreads it further.

I don't even have kids, and I don't find that one
all that dumb or hilarious.

Then, there's the Blockbuster "be kind -- rewind".
This is dumb? It's just a reminder that helps to
keep costs (and aggravation) down.

Sure, there were some validly "dumb" warnings,
but of the ten or fifteen that I read, at least half
seemed reasonable... given what we know about
users, or -- in the case of baby oil -- given what
would never even occur to most people about
what *seems* to be a harmless product.

I'm not normally one of the "professionally offended",
but I found it rather lame that the site did not even
try to differentiate between really dumb warnings
and warnings that were just tossed in there by people
who lack the least clue.

There were warnings about not getting lotions in
the eyes, but when the package is small, that's
as close as you can get to "Please be aware that
if you exercise or get overheated, then your
perspiration might carry this product from your
forehead into your eyes, resulting in irritation or
worse." How many young/new users, who had
been accustomed to "Johnson's No More Tears
Baby Shampoo" would necesarily understand before
using other shampoos and hair products, that they
aren't all so benign if they happen to reach your eyes?

How many products for hair or skin are now made
to look and smell very much like food or like
those goofy kids' candy products?

Hell, in a world where most people at least know that
there's such a product as edible underwear... I think
it's not too off-base to put some explicit statements
on products that resemble things that they are not.

Besides, welfare states are creating generations of
"adults" and new parents who never learned this stuff.
Granted, they are probably mostly illiterate and would
not even read the warnings, but a company has to at
least try, doesn't it?

As an example of "technical writing", that site...


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Dumb warnings: From: Hart, Geoff

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