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Thursday, June 25, 2009

Anti-Pattern: Geek Speak (Facebook)

Need I say more?

facebook-database-error (by Designing Web Interfaces)


sn3ek said...

Where is this geek speak? Thats just an error message where you can see whats wrong. If you don't know anything about database you should shut down your website.

Bill Scott said...


Guess I needed to say more :-)

Sure I understand what a database error is. That is not the point. This appears on Facebook which has 200 million users. As a point of fact the majority of those users have no idea what a database is nor what a database write failed means. Nor should they care.

Geek Speak is using terminology that the normal user does not understand but is instead something that a geek would understand.

Your comment "If you don't know anything about a database you should shut down your website" is wrong on so many levels it is hard to know where to begin. Let me try ;-)

1) You say "If I do know what this means". I do know what this means. I have spent 25+ years in software engineering. I am speaking for users. You know being a user advocate.

2) End users don't need to know anything like this to participate in facebook, twitter or any other site on the web. It is a consumer world-- not a geek world.

3) My being an advocate for users is not a sign that I should "shut my website down".

4) This is not "my website". It is blogger. Any idiot can create a blogger account without knowing anything about databases. Whether I know anything about databases (which I do) or not has nothing to do with this website.

5) Knowledge of databases does not admit you to the world of being allowed to blog or not or participate in twitter, facebook or anything else.

Your attitude is the perfect illustration of why this kind of ridiculous messaging makes it into the user experience of the masses.

Let me turn it around on you:
"If you don't know anything about user experience design then you should shut down your website."

[the last statement is sarcastic -- hope you get that ;-) ]

Natali Ardianto said...

Sometimes people write their mind out, sometimes people write their mindless mind out without any full appreciation of anybody's perspective. Don't get caught in the fire Bill.

Elizabeth Michaud said...

Hi Bill,

I found your blog while searching for information on Facebook database errors. I, too, have spent decades in high tech, and understand that a database error could be a search failure, a read error, or a write failure. I agree with you that for the vast majority of Facebook users, it is not helpful to read "... database write error..." and would be more helpful to see a message like "...we were unable to save your latest input...."

On my question, do you follow FB service or customer problems, or advise them on how to interface better with users? Thanks! ElizabethM