Re: [Usability] Chabada's Suggestions

On Wed, 28 Jun 2006, Matthew Paul Thomas wrote:

> Date: Wed, 28 Jun 2006 19:20:29 +1200
> From: Matthew Paul Thomas <mpt myrealbox com>
> To: Gnome usability <usability gnome org>
> Subject: Re: [Usability] Chabada's Suggestions
> On Jun 28, 2006, at 2:36 AM, Alan Horkan wrote:
> >
> > On Tue, 27 Jun 2006, Matthew Paul Thomas wrote:

> That (like most of your postings, alas) is critical but utterly
> unhelpful. How specifically would you improve the sentence?

See the post Liam Quinn made, it described the issue well.

> >> "Nautilus could not open the file because the filetype is unknown",
> >> or "&operatingsystem; cannot play MP3 files, because some countries
> >> allow software patents and Free Software cannot pay patent licenses".

Using the phrase "some countries" in the error message begs the questions
which countries?  These kinds of ambiguities are best avoided in error
messages, it is like answering a users question with another question they
are unlikely to know the answer to so it can be very annoying.

Software patents may be the root cause of the problem but distributions
could choose to license the software from Fleundo so it is a overly
complicated way to preset the issue to the user in what should be short
and simple error message.

> > ... there are so many things wrong with that second sentence I will
> > not criticize it other than to say I hope you will retract it, or
> > rephrase it.

I was hoping you could see that although your sentiment was well
intentioned you propesd actions and confusing choice of text were "utterly
unhelpful" (sic) but it seems you couldn't even recognise your own mistake
and instead of getting all defensive about it and resorting to personal

Admittedly my posts may be rushed and far from perfect but but I try only
to provide some timely response of some kind rather than leave questions
unanswered.  I do not make any claims of expertise and I do not cry foul
when others point my mistakes - it may be annoying but I try to learn from
them and improve what I'm doing - since I am here to try and help make the
software better in whatever way I can manage. I do not have the luxury of
being employed to work on Free Software development.

> (I'm assuming that Gnome is considered to be Free Software by default,

That is not a safe assumption.  Many Gnome developers do believe in the
ideas of the Free Software Foundation but there is no certain answer that
would make your assumption a safe one, Alan Cox and Richard Stallman are
not clear on whether it is or not:

For the ordinary users the relevant points are the distributor has chosen
not to license the software, or is prevented from (or at least believes
the even the threat of legal action is not worth risking) includinging a
free version due to legal reason.  The freedom issue is important but
secondary and only make the error message longer and more confusing.

> and if a distributor charges money for the inclusion of MP3-playing
> proprietary software in their OS, they can patch the message to suit
> the rare case where you've uninstalled that software.)

So showing a dialog might be suitable but the message must as simple and
direct as possible.

Alan H.

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