Re: Middle click, "dumbing down" Slashdotted

Bill Nottingham <notting redhat com> wrote:
Large changes in terms of the interaction paradigm, such as the switch from
GNOME 2 and GNOME 3, can be problematic for users, but by presenting them
with a very different interface, it can essentially 'force' a retraining,
that can be assisted by docs, introduction videos, explanations of why the
big change, and so on - "here's the new method, learn it, and go."

Continual iterations in terms of the feature set is a great thing for users;
things like "I upgraded and now I can add my GMail contacts", or "this new
music player is much better" are great, and add value.  As they are
generally either additive in nature, learned as a new application, or
interacted with in fundamentally equivalent ways (such as the new status
menu), they don't have a lot of cost of adaptation.

Continual iteration *in terms of the interaction paradigm*, is incredibly
user-hostile, though - it looks pretty much the same as before, so they
attempt to interact the same way as before.  But scrollbars now act
differently.  Or their middle mouse button might behave differently.  Or the
menu for some of their applications moved entirely to someplace it wasn't
before.  Etc.  And if this happens with a different minor thing with each
release - they get gunshy.  And they start saying "Oh what did GNOME break
now?" To quote Christina Wodtke - "User don't hate change. Users hate change
that doesn't make anything better, but makes everything have to be
relearned." And the "doesn't make anything better" is in the user's mind -
it's where the value needs to be communicated to.

Sticking to the topic of text selections specifically (since general
discussions on mailing lists are the road to hell) - we won't make
changes in this area unless there are clear benefits to users. I think
there is a compelling case to be made for improvements to text
selections, and it is something that people will appreciate. I also
think we can make changes without too much disruption. The devil will
be in the detail of course, and we'll have to wait for the designs to
be fleshed out before having a serious discussion.


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