Why programmers are user-unfriendly...

Subject: Why programmers are user-unfriendly...
From: Fred M Jacobson <fred -at- BOOLE -dot- COM>
Date: Wed, 20 Apr 1994 10:37:57 PDT

Jonathan Price writes:

> Thanks for the quote from the SacherTorte Algorithm. My sense is that many
> programmers get very little exercise, and very little therapy; as a result,
> they don't hit a punching bag, or give primal screams. Does this lead to
> user-hostile software?

I'm not certain if Jonathan is being facetious; he has contributed
at least a couple of what I consider blame-the-programmer remarks.
I don't find these very helpful. Sure, I've known my share of
arrogant, self-absorbed programmers who thought they knew what was
good for the users and couldn't be bother with anyone else's
opinion. I've also heard about tech writers who couldn't bring
themselves to conform to the company's style guide because they
knew best how to present the documentation. "After all," they
sometimes say, "this is _my_ book."

Most programmers I have worked with, especially recently, like most
professional technical communicators, want to produce something
their audience will use and benefit from, maybe even enjoy using.
Most of us, programmers and technical communicators, will take
whatever advice and help we can get that will further those aims.

Nevertheless, programmers and tech writers sometimes create user-
unfriendly products. In some cases this may be due to poor diet or
lack of exercise, emotional support, or appropriate socialization.
I maintain that it is more often due to unreasonable schedules,
inappropriate incentives, and poor methods. I also maintain that
these are factors we can address, unlike at least some of the
others. In this way, we can work _with_ the programmers instead
of blaming them.


PS- Some of the programmers I work with work out in the gym. -F
PPS- I'm also for Mom and apple pie. -F
INTERNET: fred -at- boole -dot- com PHONE: (408) 526-3292 FAX: (408) 526-3055
USPS: Fred Jacobson / Boole & Babbage / 3131 Zanker Road / San Jose CA 95134

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