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Features that unnecessarily announce themselves

Joel wrote that programmers sometimes write features, and won't make them totally transparent, and wind up confusing users.

That reminds me of when I did on-campus tech support in college - there was a telnet application which, when you logged off (by typing "exit" or whatever in the shell), would bring up a dialog saying something like "Host disconnected from server". Any number of users came to me, asking what had gone wrong, and I had to tell them that the program was just letting them know that they had logged off, which was a stupid thing to tell them, since they knew they had logged off. In that case, no message would have been much better.

Andy
Monday, June 23, 2003

The problem is, the app should've differentiated between expected logoff (clean socket disconnection) and unexpected logoff (socket reset), and reserved the message for the unexpected case.

Brad Wilson (dotnetguy.techieswithcats.com)
Monday, June 23, 2003

Right. I think this is a case where the feature that was implemented was *worse* than no feature, since if you get unexpectedly disconnected you can pretty much tell because the server will stop responding. Sometimes, it's hard to do something that's helpful, and so you should refrain from doing anything.

Andy
Monday, June 23, 2003

Ok, but in this case, what if the user types 'exiy' instead of exit and leaves the session logged onto their account, and someone comes along and deletes all their files?

Bill
Monday, June 23, 2003

There are other ways to deal with people who don't know about Ctrl+D than inflicting the entire populate with annoying message boxes. :)

Brad Wilson (dotnetguy.techieswithcats.com)
Monday, June 23, 2003

Bill, from my reading of the original post here it seems like the telnet program being used was GUI based (as it popped up a dialog box).  For a command-line telnet client, it does make a certain amount of sense to tell the user their connection was closed, but for a GUI-based client, just having the telnet window close with no error should be enough of an indication that the connection was closed.

Mister Fancypants
Monday, June 23, 2003

I agree this one is a mistake, but sometimes it's less clear cut.

What if you click some menu option which doesn't have an obvious visible effect.  Should the user be told that it happened? (I have seen users repeatedly clicking these kind of options sometimes as if not sure if they got it 1st time)

S. Tanna
Monday, June 23, 2003

I've seen this too. During the testing phase before we released our product, we saw users repeatedly clicking the save button because there was no visual feedback that it had actually happened. We ended up putting in a very (and I repeat VERY) simple animation to give them the visual clue that "yes, your work has been saved."

The important part is to tell users what they NEED to know, and everything else should be transparent.

HeyCoolAid!
Monday, June 23, 2003

Distinguish between feedback and feeback that requires a response.

njkayaker
Tuesday, June 24, 2003

I agree with njkayaker. Feedback should not require a response.

tapiwa
Tuesday, June 24, 2003

>>> Ok, but in this case, what if the user types 'exiy' instead of exit and leaves the session logged onto their account, and someone comes along and deletes all their files

In this case, the application should issue a warning that it didn't understand exiy

rm -R /
Tuesday, June 24, 2003

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