As someone that works troubleshooting stuff, I've seen a surprising amount of people that, when confronted with messages, warnings and errors, tend to seek help fast (or early in the process) in the hope someone will understand what their problem is, rather than reading the error and searching directly for a solution, or solving what they did wrong independently. To illustrate this, consider an example (I'm not sure if this captures the qi of the problem, but here it goes):

User $A$ performs a certain action that leads to the current error/warning/message:

Error: your input was greater than two, please use $X$ tool when input is greater than two.

When the user is presented with an error message, there are 4 things that could happen:

  1. User comes back and uses the correct tool.
  2. User tries again until frustrated.
  3. User tries again until frustrated and seeks help.
  4. User tries again until frustrated, seeks help and doesn't get it. The user either figures out the message or just leaves things as they are.

My question: why do endings 2, 3, and 4 happen? Is the message too difficult for some people to understand, or do they believe they are not wrong and the tool should do what they want or the message should be more calling (IN CAPS or bold)? Do people ignore seemingly perfectly crafted messages? Or have we learned to ignore them, given all the media with which we are bombarded?

  • $\begingroup$ I must be one of 2 to 4, because I have never seen an error message asking me to use a certain "tool". Can you supply a screenshot of an example? $\endgroup$ – user3116 Feb 23 '14 at 17:46

There is a lot of context to extract from this:

For example if "using the X tool" requires a lot of time, it would be time-consuming to actually go by yourself and try for hours, when you could instead ask for help from someone who already has some knowledge of it.

Also, people are all different, some people want to know how "things work in their details," while some just want results, so they will seek the fastest way to do it.

But to conclude, I tend to notice that as the time passes and technologies increase, people tend to be lazy and stop thinking for themselves, except to think, "If it does not work, then the tool is broken, not me."

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I don't know if this an answerable question but I KNOW exactly what you're taking about. I think much of it can be attributed to how humans learn new things.

People need to be reassured that the process, methods, and results they're getting are correct. When doing something for the first time yourself you need this feedback.

So I tend to attribute this behavior as a manifestation of this. Until a person has been properly grounded in something, their confidence in their own ability and performance of a set of tasks is low. Only with feedback from other humans that they're doing it correctly, does ones confidence rise to a point where they no longer need the affirmation/reaffirmation from others.

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