Re: Number of warnings

Subject: Re: Number of warnings
From: "Gene Kim-Eng" <techwr -at- genek -dot- com>
To: <techwr-l -at- lists -dot- techwr-l -dot- com>
Date: Mon, 5 Jan 2009 10:57:36 -0800

I think most warnings in consumer products are there
more for legal CYA purposes than because they are
really needed to alert users to dangers that may not
be immediately obvious. The only people who might
actually benefit from reading them probably won't read
the instructions anyway, and constitute the dangers the
manufacturers are trying to cover themselves against.

The road advisory signs are, of course, there because
the road planners know that a large number of the cars
that pass them are not being operated by "decent drivers"
and are probably going 5-10 MPH faster than the 40 MPH
advisory.

The two accident sites you refer to should probably have
their advisories lowered.

Gene Kim-Eng



----- Original Message -----
From: "Ladonna Weeks" <ladonnaweeks -at- yahoo -dot- com>
I'm not sure how much this applies to technical writing but it really
applies to the effectiveness of warning signs. There is an 8-mile
stretch of road that I travel daily. It is a two-lane country road with
a speed limit of 55 MPH. There are about ten curves that have yellow
warning signs to slow to 40 mph. All but two of the curves are
well-banked and if you are a decent driver you hardly have to slow down
at all to manage the curves. There are two, however, that are rather
deadly and if you don't slow to at least 40, you'll end up in a ditch. I
have seen bad accidents at both these curves and I have to wonder if
people didn't take these warning signs seriously because the other ones
turned out to be false alarms. Could something like this apply to
technical writing?

I think about new products I buy and the first two pages are full of
instructions not to do really stupid things with the toaster (such as
operate it in a bathtub). I'm sure valid stuff may be buried among the
ridiculous stuff but I'm too impatient to dig for it so I blow off the
safety warnings and maybe the whole book, especially if it's for a type
of product (such as a toaster), that I've used before. And maybe I'll
miss something important or interesting. Just food for thought...

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Follow-Ups:

References:
Number of warnings: From: Ladonna Weeks

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