ad Silicon Tails: Say what?

Thursday, November 30, 2006

Say what?

I know, I know. It's always really easy to find stupid error messages and general system responses likely to be meaningless to 90%-plus of users - as a matter of fact it is so easy that people make careers out of publishing books about meaningless system responses and UI copy in general. By now, one should think that we all got it, and were able to communicate in fairly straight-forward ways with users of our apps and sites - in ways that may even be, hold it, helpful.

Yesterday as I was posting the post below I wanted to copy some text in an article to quote it in the posting. As I higlight the text and copy it, IE7 feels a desperate need to force me into making a decision that seems to have nothing to do with my action and, worse, that I have no idea what means (see below). But it sounds scary, I don't want anyone, least of all a web page, to access my Clipboard. So much for that feature. I wonder what it is, what it does and why I would want it. And if they assume I would want it, why do they scare me away with non-sense that hints at privacy obtrusion?

Below is a much more positive example of essentially a 404 error (a web page that cannot be retrieved). The communication is much more personable, humorous, straight-forward, written in "natural language English" with clearly suggested actions to move me along. I am glad to see more of this direct and more informal communication on the web, even in apps that used to apply more "businessy" language that just seemed distancing and alienating.