Re: How many warnings are too many?

Subject: Re: How many warnings are too many?
From: <wongword -at- ozemail -dot- com -dot- au>
To: "Technical Writing" <techwr-l -at- lists -dot- techwr-l -dot- com>, "David Downing" <DavidDowning -at- users -dot- com>
Date: Thu, 1 Jan 2009 21:31:49 +1100

This is such an important topic. It is relevant to investors and financial
consumers. Do you warn them not to borrow more than they can afford to pay
back or do you put this in the form of positive advice eg do a budget to see
how much you can afford to pay back.

If we don't warn people of the consequences will they take advice and
positive instructions?

to me this is so core of so much we do across so many industries.

We need to give people the advice they would get in a statement that we
describe as a "warning" but somehow dress the content up in another genre.

In the area I work in we give advice to people to only deal with businesses
we license. But we know some people think it is just us saying this because
we regualte the sector and of course would say that. Therefore we need to
say why this is important. The warning therefore is dressed up in a
different genre. In this case it is the reason for doing something.

"If you want to avoid blah do" ...or

"If you want [the benefit of blah] then only deal with a licensed business"

The sentences of course may or may not be written exactly like this, but
this would be one approach. Written like this it becomes the motivation to
read on. And we often need as much motivation for people to keep on reading.

Irene Wong


> David Downing wondered: <<This raises another question. At what point
> do cautions and warnings become counterproductive because people start
> dismissing them?>>
>
> That's a great question. Unfortunately, I don't think there's any good
> answer to it, since the answer is likely to vary among contexts. > The
> larger question is more interesting: Why are we wasting our time
> and endangering the user by creating warnings?


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