Re: Politeness

Subject: Re: Politeness
From: Ronald Lee Stone <ston0030 -at- GOLD -dot- TC -dot- UMN -dot- EDU>
Date: Thu, 14 Apr 1994 00:41:33 -0500

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Date: Mon, 11 Apr 1994 12:30:37 EDT
From: Jonathan Price <jonprice -at- AOL -dot- COM>
Subject: Re: Politeness

Good idea! Talk to Joe Chew at Lawrence Berkeley
Labs about online style. Are you also considering
whether current error messages, online help, and
documentation are polite? For instance, would you
ask your mother, "Abort, Retry, Fail?" And what
about our old friend, "Illegal User Entry"?

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In message <9404122359 -dot- tn699108 -at- aol -dot- com> jonprice writes:
> You asked for an explanation: I don't think programmers
are very considerate or polite when they compose error messages.
Many take the point of view that the user is the cause of all
problems. In real life, this is kn own as having a chip on your

I am bringing this off-list reply back to the list.

I asked for an explanation of your original post because
the investigation is on more than one level. On one level
I am examining the context that listserv discussions occur
in, of which the user-friendliness of listserv software would
be one factor.

(Margie Monforton asked about Computer-based training: check
out "User Responses to Varying Persona in Computer-Assisted
Instruction" by Jack Jobst and Billie Wahlstrom in Microcomputers
in the Higher Ed Curricula 9.3 (1991); and also "Computer-based
Instruction and the Humanizing Impulse" by Gina Burchard and Sam
Dragga in Tech Comm 36.1 (1989))

Another level of examination involves the language use strategies
that a person will use to complete socio-rhetorical goals and why
they are significant.

Another long post follows.

Ronald L. Stone : ston0030 -at- gold -dot- tc -dot- umn -dot- edu : (612) 644-9706
graduate student : Scientific & Technical Communication
Department of Rhetoric : University of Minnesota, St. Paul

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