Re. Crying wolf?

Subject: Re. Crying wolf?
From: Geoff Hart <geoff-h -at- MTL -dot- FERIC -dot- CA>
Date: Wed, 3 Jan 1996 08:19:18 LCL

Stan Brown noted that when I suggested ignoring the
distinction between warnings and cautions and notes, I
might be placing writers in the position of "the boy who
cried wolf"; that is, if everything is a "note", readers
will learn to ignore notes because most of them are trivial
or unimportant. Then, when it comes time to read an
important one, they won't and might get hurt.

An excellent point, and the logic seems sound, but I'm not
sure it's valid. Not a criticism... just an observation
that I can see the need for some research to see which of
two "reasonable" hypotheses is actually correct. I still
tend to think that you should call everything "note" ("the
boy who didn't cry at all, but just cleared his throat")
and let readers determine whether electrocution or the need
to reboot the computer is the more serious. Again, not
sarcasm... readers can do this easily enough, but the
question then becomes whether providing additional help
really benefits them. I know what the lawyers would say,
but what about the techwhirlers?

--Geoff Hart @8^{)}
geoff-h -at- mtl -dot- feric -dot- ca

Disclaimer: If I didn't commit it in print in one of our
reports, it don't represent FERIC's opinion.

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