[CS-FSLUG] We have met the enemy...

Karl Kleinpaste karl at kleinpaste.org
Tue May 5 12:38:01 CDT 2009

Greg Slade <camsoc at vfemail.net> writes:
> It was only after I installed Xubuntu (stop rolling your eyes, Karl)

Oh, I don't care that you booted Xubuntu, any more than I'd care if
you'd chosen CrunchBang, though that particular name is *so* sophomoric
that it tweaks my irritability for different reasons.  The fact that you
had to make a choice is mildly annoying; the fact that you had a choice
among dozens or hundreds is extraordinarily annoying, and your
difficulty with the emotional reaction of feeling intimidation over
Linux' now-unfounded reputation is what's at issue.

> In reason 5, Thomas answers the complaint "I posted a message on a
> forum, but Linux people were mean to me" by saying, in part:
>      But in most examples of this complaint, the individual concerned
>      brought wrath on themselves in one of several ways:

I've got this related/inverted/backhanded/whatever problem:

Xiphos (my Bible study software) has a reasonably complete manual.  But
time and time again, I keep being told that "Xiphos' operation x-y-z is
not intuitive enough".  When I repeatedly respond, "That's documented in
the manual in §a.b.c," because I'm fastidious about updates in the
manual for new capability, the response is of the form, "But users don't
want to have read any manual!  Users *won't* read manuals!  It has to be

In pursuing this claim to its logical conclusion, I have asked a couple
times, "Where is the boundary of `obviousness'?  At what point may I
fairly say, `That activity is too complex to be found trivially off the
menus and buttons, because there are a couple dozen of them, and they
interrelate in ways that are inherently non-obvious -- you actually have
to read the explanations in the manual in order to understand'?"

I have not yet gotten a single syllable in response to that.  I have
left it as an open challenge on our users' or developers' list a couple
of times -- at what point will someone tell me that There Should Not Be
A Manual At All because "everything" is supposed to be "obvious"?

I'm overjoyed to update the manual with new information and more help
and additional screenshot examples and heaven knows what else.  But as
long as I keep being told that the need to look in a manual is evidence
that my application is fundamentally flawed, I'm going to see it as
harder and harder to find it in me to keep doing so.

I genuinely don't know what to do with such claims.  Xiphos is pretty
darn good.  I came to it 3 years ago, as a fairly unstable, not terribly
professional application, and I've spent a huge amount of personal
resources getting it to the point where its support is wide, its
capability deep, and its feature set impressive.  I took over as project
leader on request of its founder and former project leader exactly
because I brought that professionalism to it.  But if my professionalism
is to be overridden with "nothing you do is enough," eh, motivation is a
good, important, but sometimes scarce resource.

So yes, we have met the enemy, and he is us...and I don't know what to
do about him/them/us -- damned if I do and damned if I don't.

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