RE: Dumb warnings

Subject: RE: Dumb warnings
From: JB Foster <jb -dot- foster -at- shaw -dot- ca>
To: "TECHWR-L" <techwr-l -at- lists -dot- raycomm -dot- com>
Date: Thu, 31 Oct 2002 15:27:57 -0700

The reason you notice such silly warnings as "coffee is hot - may cause
burns," is that most of these labels are displayed for one reason - to
reduce liability. Because there has been a rash of successful lawsuits for
harm cased by lack of commonsense, companies have been over-cautious in
practicing due-diligence. These warnings are there to discourage individuals
from trying to sue.

The most famous of these, are parking-lot signs which claim ?they are not
responsible for the contents in your car?. Even with such signs present, a
company may still be liable if lack of due-diligence (on their part) can be

Unfortunately, it has become habitual for me to place some ?silly? warnings
on the first page of a manual, in order to reduce the risk to my employer
from possible (future) frivolous legal action.


Lindsey Durway wrote:

> Chris G. asserted that many of those dumb warnings
> were meaningful & necessary. His objections bring to light an important
> point: writing good warnings is a subtle art. At the extreme of
> brevity, you get dumb warning syndrome, and at the extreme of
> completeness, you lose the urgency and clarity of the message.
> The urgency, the immediacy of a good imperative, is not incompatible
> with the kind of completeness that keeps a warning from hanging out
> in space like some badly translated stereo instruction. ...

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RE: Dumb warnings: From: LDurway

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