Wednesday, July 20, 2011

More Stupid Error Messages

The earlier Stupid Error Messages began with this rant:

Have you ever seen an error message like this one?
Invalid phone number (212) 555-1284 - not numeric
Maybe this one?
Invalid phone number 2125551284 - format not (999) 999-999
Both messages are stupid, stupid, stupid... that's three "stupids" out of a maximum possible score of 5. Modern systems should be able to deal with human-readable input formats like credit card numbers with or without the dashes.
Invalid credit card number 4533-3048-3842-9544 - not numeric

The Finest Talent

Here's a new, more extreme example of a stupid error message:

This is Best Buy, not Mama Mary's Pasta Palace. Presumably Best Buy can afford the finest talent and not rely on cousin Vinnie for family tech support. Proof of that lies in the fact the error message is well thought out, carefully crafted and fully explained... clearly a product of the finest talent, not cousin Vinnie.

  • In the real world, credit cards have a single free-format "name on card" string, not separate "first name" and "last name".

  • In the real world, people sometimes have more than (or less than) two names.

  • In the real world, companies have credit cards.

  • In the real world, the "name on card" can contain digits.
But none of that matters: Best Buy shouldn't care what you enter in the "name on card", they should just care if the credit card company authorizes the purchase.

The bottom line? Best Buy didn't get my money.

At The Other End Of The Food Chain

Here's another new example of a stupid error message, this one from a recent release of Wordpress:

This is cousin Vinnie's work: no thought whatsoever was put into the design of the error message, thus proving the adage "Open source is free if your time isn't worth anything."

Both messages are stupid, stupid, stupid, stupid... four "stupids" out of a maximum possible score of 5.

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