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  1. Joined : Aug 2015
    Posts : 20
    Windows 10 x64 build 10240
       02 Sep 2015 #1

    Why Instructions Do Matter

    I don't know where else to post this. There doesn't seem to be a place where users can address hardware (and software) manufacturers both jointly and in general, so it is my hope that enough of the people involved will be reading this forum. (The best ones will be.)

    In my twenty-odd years of using computers it is my sad, overall, experience that when it comes to instructions hardware and software manufacturers appear to obey a general rule, i.e., "Just throw something out there that looks like instructions."

    Nobody seems to be saying it—but somebody has to:

    Instructions are every bit as much a component as the hardware or software itself.
    If the instructions don't work—the hardware/software doesn't either!

    1. For instructions to work they must cover at least every reasonable eventuality encounterable in the installation.

    One typical example only:

    Over the past few days (yes, days!) I've been struggling to install a surveillance camera (no need to specify which one, since this sort of thing happens with so many hardware items)—and it kept turning up error messages. The latest one is, "Please use our equipment." The last straw, I was using the stuff in the box, so what in Hades does that mean? —And could I find out?

    If software is capable of giving error messages it must be at least possible to find out what the error message means. If not (but why not?) in the user guide, then every possible error message encounterable should then at least be available on the manufacturer's website. To find, after days of searching, that the relevant error message is listed nowhere is ... insulting!

    2. Whatever the language, instructions should be at least edited by a native speaker of that language—not by some half-educated narcissistic git who only thinks he (or she) knows how to write in that language.

    3. Do hardware manufacturers test their products on ( a significant number of) ordinary members of the public and who are unfamiliar with that product? It surely seems not. The writers aside, the people who edit instructions should not be the ones who are already intimate with the product.

    There. I've said it.

    (Pass the antacid, please.)
      My System SpecsSystem Spec

  2. Joined : Dec 2013
    Sydney, Nova Scotia, Canada
    Posts : 8,207
    Windows 10 IoT
       02 Sep 2015 #2

    IMHO, some of it is lost in translation. The manufacturer may be based in Japan, Korea, etc. Instructions are first done in their native language, then translated to English. Sometimes not a very good translation at all. Some of the stuff I got from ASUS tech support was laughable, only in reality it actually made me want to cry.
      My System SpecsSystem Spec

  3. Joined : Aug 2015
    Posts : 20
    Windows 10 x64 build 10240
       02 Sep 2015 #3

    alphanumeric said: View Post
    IMHO, some of it is lost in translation. ... Sometimes not a very good translation at all. ... made me want to cry.
    Just what I meant by my point #2
      My System SpecsSystem Spec

  4. Joined : Dec 2013
    Sydney, Nova Scotia, Canada
    Posts : 8,207
    Windows 10 IoT
       02 Sep 2015 #4

    Yeah, I skimmed through what you posted. I agree, the one doing the translation should be English first language, not English second or third language learned. Or semi learned.
      My System SpecsSystem Spec

  5. Joined : Jun 2015
    Ottawa, Canada
    Posts : 193
    Windows 10 Pro
       02 Sep 2015 #5

    Manufacturers use you, the buyer, for their QA testing of hardware and software and documentation. Based on your feedback they can fine tune it to make it better. Cheaper and less trouble for them than producing a well tested product in the first place.
    Look at how technical reference books are nowadays - full of spelling and grammar errors. Too much trouble and expense to use proofreaders, so the suckers who buy the stuff can do the job instead.
      My System SpecsSystem Spec

  6. Joined : Jun 2015
    San Antonio, TX
    Posts : 1,931
    MS Windows 10 Pro - Perm Activation of 10585
       02 Sep 2015 #6

    Phrixos said: View Post
    I don't know where else to post this. .........
    (Pass the antacid, please.)
    I will only say "Thanks for posting it" Good instructions are so important... Cliff M.
      My System SpecsSystem Spec

  7. Joined : Feb 2014
    Scottsdale, AZ USA, 85254
    Posts : 315
    windows 10
       02 Sep 2015 #7

    I completely understand where you are coming from on this one. Sometimes I wonder if the "instructions" werent written in "greek" rather than plain old english where we can all understand exactly what the manufacturer(s) are trying to tell you. Sometimes you have to go to such lengths as to look it up online via google, etc. to try and find out what they mean. I could go on and on about this one; however; I just felt a brief explanation of my own terms was enough,
      My System SpecsSystem Spec

  8. Joined : Apr 2015
    Posts : 362
    Windows 10 Pro x64
       02 Sep 2015 #8

    It really reflects on the manufacturer as to their hardware, also. If they are so sloppy as to put out "garbage" instructions, how much effort did they put into the hardware, firmware, programming, etc? There is really no excuse for this. Buyer beware.

    Many times, before buying hardware, I look at the manufacturers support page. That will tell you how much they care about their product. How are you treated AFTER they have your money. The online support pages will give a good idea of that.
      My System SpecsSystem Spec

  9. Joined : Jul 2015
    PA, USA
    Posts : 462
    Windows 10 Pro (Mix of Builds) / Linux Mint
       02 Sep 2015 #9

    Heck, the second most undervalued area - help files. 98% of users never look at the damn things.

    I'm not letting on to what, but I buried a chocolate chip cookie recipe into one of (at the time) company apps help file I assisted with.
    Release was widely accepted in 2009, and nary a word from QA.
      My System SpecsSystem Spec

  10.    02 Sep 2015 #10

    acmanten said: View Post
    I will only say "Thanks for posting it" Good instructions are so important... Cliff M.
    That reminds me of something that happened to me back in high school: I was in my first (and only, since I was a senior) year on the yearbook staff, and was in the computer room with two other staff members, both of whom were veterans. They were arguing about a piece of computer software, and how to do something (I can't remember exactly what) in the program. As they stood and debated, I found the instructions and read the explanation of how to do whatever it was we were arguing about, and showed the other two girls. One turned to me and said, "HOW did you figure that out, Bob?"

    I showed her the manual, and said, "Wonderful thing called an instruction manual. Sometimes, it pays to read it." She didn't speak to me for three days, until I apologized for being sarcastic. (Which I kinda was.) But, it proved my point.
      My System SpecsSystem Spec

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