Wednesday, November 03, 2010

Are you sure?

What's up with software makers having their programs ask you if you're sure you want to close a program?  When you click the "X" in the corner of a program window, or when you navigate to the drop down menu and choose "Exit", what happens?  Does the program close?   Sometimes it does but sometimes it doesn't.  Sometimes instead of just doing what you told it to do, it asks you,  "Are you sure you want to exit?"

Why does it do this?   Why wouldn't I be sure?  What manner of bizarre lingering doubt do software creators imagine exists in the mass mind of humanity that would make it so unlikely that anyone would be unable to determine whether or not they "really" want to exit a software program?  Is this hard for most people?  Do most people usually click the "X" and then ask themselves, "Should I have done that?  Did I really want to exit the program?  I can't tell for sure if I wanted to exit or not.  Oh dear, what should I do?  Help me please."

I am sorry but barring so few examples as to make them not worth mentioning, I put it to you that over 99.9% of the time when ordinary computer using people click the "X" they do it because they are through using the program and want to exit it.  They are not ambivalent about it nor are they confused.  They are not drenched with sweat due to overwhelming insecurity over the decision.  They harbor no doubt or hesitation.  They are done now.  They want to leave.  It is over.  They click the "X".  Why do software manufacturers find this so difficult to believe?

What is the message your friendly neighborhood software selling corporation sends you when you can't even close a silly computer game without everything coming to a halt so that your computer can demand that you make damned sure you know what you're doing?  The message is straightforward.  You are too stupid to properly click things on your computer and you need to be second guessed 100% of the time to make sure you don't do something catastrophic like close your program when you didn't really mean to close your program.  Not that you couldn't just reopen your program if that were the case but ignore that and pretend there's a serious "X" clicking related threat here.  What's the deal?

It is apparently the belief of certain software makers that most people are so pathologically inept and tragically insecure that they don't usually mean they want to close a program at any time, including when they purposely move their mouse pointer all the way across the screen way up to the uppermost corner where they have to carefully align the mouse pointer directly atop a little bitty "X" and then click on it.  Software makers are certain that nobody means to do this. Ever. It is always an error when anyone tries to close a program.   Yet by the same token these very same software companies feel perfect security in the ability of people to know for sure when they want to open a program, because there is no such thing as a message asking if you're sure you really want to open any program on your computer.  So... no one ever opens programs they didn't really want to open, they only close programs they didn't really want to close.  Is it just me or is this truly bizarre thinking on the part of software companies?

It would seem that some software companies are convinced that there could never be such a time in anyone's computing life when they would be done using the software.  This is an inconceivable situation to these companies, many of whom themselves never, ever close any of their computer programs.  Ever.  It would have to be a gross accident, a mental blip, a moment of total stupidity for anyone to actually believe they were done using the software program.  You are never done using the software.  Do you understand?  Never.  You don't have a life.  You don't have other things to do.  No.  What would be normal, reasonable and expected is for you to sit at your computer twenty four hours a day for the rest of your life using the software. "Why would anyone ever want to close any computer program?", they seem to be saying. 

Why would anyone click the "X"?  Are you sure that's what you want?  Are you sure you know how you feel?  Are you sure you know what you think?  Do you need help making sure that you can think all by yourself?  You may think you're done using this program right now, but are you?  Shouldn't you think it over and reconsider that idea because it's probably wrong?  You are too dumb to know what you want.  We're here to help by telling you how dumb we think you are over and over and over again. 

This is not only not helpful, it is scary.  Not to mention insulting.  It also makes little sense. On the average, how often does it really happen that people close programs when they didn't want to close them?  Does it happen so often that the best course of action is to save people from their own hopeless stupidity by making them confirm they want to close a program 100% of the time before the program allows them to do it?  I don't think there is any evidence to support that.  At all.  None.  In fact I would say that it is so unusual that people accidentally close programs that it's not even worth the time to calculate the percentage of times out of a thousand that it happens.  Besides, even if it does happen, so effing what?

What does a software maker care if I accidentally close a program when I didn't really want to close it?  Does it affect them in any way?  No.  It is irrelevant to them.   I really don't see the logic in this strange setup or any reason for it other than to perpetuate the insulting and untrue suggestion that computer users are too stupid to open and close programs of their own cognition within any acceptable margin of error.  It is arrogant and impertinent and they can kiss my unamused butt.

Ever heard of personal responsibility?  If I close a program accidentally and lose work then I learn not to do that again.  It might happen again, but it won't happen very often.  I am sure this situation is best left to the individual experiencing it.  I'm not seeing where software manufacturers feel the need to be included in or to prevent this sort of personal learning curve.  It doesn't appear to me to be anything within the venue of writing computer programs. Maybe I'm missing something but I don't think so.  My personal behavior is none of their concern.  At least not on Earth.  Instead of second guessing me maybe they should concentrate more on writing programs that don't crash or go cattywompus quite so much.

Perhaps this particular default was written into programs as a form of insurance for new users, but you know, you can only be new at computing for a very short time, then it's not new to you anymore.  Should operating systems or software programs be set up to cater to the most temporary class of computer users, new users, on a permanent basis?  Who would benefit from this?  Maybe a computer school for new computer users, but no one else.  Not the average home user.  Not the average business user.  So, again, I am confused as to the need for this second-guessing the intelligence of the user being built into software programs and operating systems, and I wish they'd knock it the hell off. 

I feel better now. Thanks.


  1. My comments today cover two important topics and would more accurately be called complaints so I'll try to be brief. Firstly, did you know that the verification word (the word in graphics you have to type in to filter out the spam bots who can read and reproduce text)that popped up for me was 'turdene'? I'm looking at it right now. Now the next person to comment will see a different word so I'm assuming you have some kind of recognition program running that knows it's me here plus a corresponding list of perjorative words you think I or my comments deserve. 'Turdene'...Hmmmph.

    Next, I finished your article and when I got to the bottom, not only was there was no button that asked me if I was SURE I was finished reading your article, there wasn't even the initial question and corresponding button that asked as a first atep if I was finished reading. I like these buttons. They make me feel secure in a scary world. If I am unsure of something I can always go back and change my mind. Life should be like this in general, going all the way back to the womb. Somewhere there should be a little mouse pointer and the couplet of questions, 1) Do you want to be born? and 2)Are you SURE you want to be born? with little two button choices to be made. Life could then proceed on a firmer footing, with oneself and the people around you having deliberately chosen to be here. No one asked me if I was SURE I wanted to be born and I've have my doubts since then.
    'Turdene'.... I'm very insulted and considering not making any more comments after my next twenty or so.

  2. Jerry9:05 AM

    You wouldn't believe the number of times I've actually been relieved when I hit the red X in the corner and been asked if I really wanted to do that, because I didn't! All I really wanted to do was exit the TAB I was in--not the whole bar. It took me an inordinate amount of time to learn how to navigate on computers. That's probably due to a lot of factors. One is I can remember when gasoline cost .19 a gallon during "gas wars". Usually it stayed around .24/gallon. Computers weren't intended for me. When I really screw the thing up I have to call my baby girl over to straighten it out. She's 29, and she can fix the damn thing faster than I can sit down and convince myself that yes, I really do intend to have a bowel movement today.
    The main problem is opening new tabs. I thought I'd come abreast of Einstein when I finally figured out how to do that, but it ultimately became addicting like so many other things in life I've discovered that I thought were good for me. Now I usually have 4 different tabs open on the same bar, and when I want to exit the most recent one I often do what I did for years and go for the damn red X in the corner. The computer seems to know I'm borderline senile and gently asks me if I really want to exit all 4 tabs? I get to practice saying no this way, and I'm sure I'll be grateful for the drill when my hospice nurse starts asking me if I need a new diaper in a few more years. Go figure.
    By the way, my secret word is "phonsupe". I don't care how long you boil a phone, without vegetables it ain't gonna taste like soup!

  3. Jerry,

    No wonder my phonsupe never turned out good, I never put vegetables in it. Next time I'll toss in some artichokes and pickles and see what we get. Thanks for the heads up.