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Being Helpful


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Something to be aware of when designing apps.
It is part of human nature to want to do things to help other people (realize that some people just don't have very much of this trait). Sometimes this can go wrong:

  • Feature of my payroll system: Don't allow the user to use the Personnel ID of a person that has been terminated. This seemed like a good idea until a user wanted to run a earnings report for a terminated employee. I 'unfixed' that feature.
  • Feature of a credit card web site: "You can't see your charges anymore because your account was canceled when you lost your card. We do that for your protection so someone who finds your card can't see your history." Hmm, I don't want someone to see my history even if I haven't lost my card. I would like to see if anyone charged anything before I got it canceled. Thank you for Being Helpful.
  • Features of MS Word: change a paragraph that starts with 1. into the first item of an ordered list. Thanks, cuz now when I cut/paste that into an e-mail, there are no numbers. (I know I can turn this off myself; I did - it just annoys me.) Also simply cut from an e-mail editor, paste into word, cut from word and paste back into the e-mail editor - it adds extra CR's between each paragraph. Now I have to go delete all the extra blanks. Thanks again….
  • I love how Windows tries to be smart when editing files with no extension in Notepad. In some versions at least, it'll append a .txt to the file without notifying you about that change.
  • Some applications will insist on helping you by removing leading and trailing spaces from all fields regardless of whether the CSV used quotes to preserve them. http://www.creativyst.com/Doc/Articles/CSV/CSV01.htm#FileFormat
    My point is: sometimes that extra work you put in isn't nearly as useful as you thought it would be. KISS (Keep It Simple, Stupid!)

    I have to agree, this tends to be expecially annoying in a lot of Microsoft products. I have often wandered through my office muttering "Why don't they put in a 'Please stop trying to help me option'?" - Jacob Bruner

    They do. In Word, it's under Tools-AutoCorrect. You can select which of the behaviors you want and which you don't. -- Tamar Granor

    Sounds like Item #1 is all sewn up then.. < g > -- Doug Dodge


    Also beware Well-Meaning Fools and people trying to do you favors! -- John Schlosser
    (As in, "I'm from Corporate and I'm here to help." < gd&rvf > -- Art Bergquist)
    Beware geeks bearing gifts? -- Willson De Veas
    You mean "greeks", as in "Beware of greeks bearing gifts?" - ?edyshor

    Also See: Developer Gold Plating
    Category Best Practices Category Project Management Category Developer Productivity
  • ( Topic last updated: 2004.07.27 12:42:40 PM )