Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Error Messages – The Paradigm Shift

I was once surfing through Orkut, just curious to check out a friend’s photo album. The mouse did not seem to obey my command, and I was not taken anywhere, bringing a slight fret on my face and a twist on my brow. Soon, a message pops up on my screen, and my brows had a different reason to be twisted –


`Bad bad server, no donut for you’ it read. It did take me a few moments to realize that it was actually an error message.

Well, that one just earned my passing gaze, but this one really had me roaring with laughter –

An error message in youtube, consoling me that a team of highly qualified monkeys have been dispatched to deal with the situation.

As a casual browser, I could afford to amuse myself by reading these error messages, but as a technical author, it did really rake my grey cells – What a change in writing style! If I was to write an error message, this is how it would read –

`Sorry for the inconvenience caused, we are facing a technical error in accessing the page. Please check your browser settings or refer to our help …Blah blah blah… Snorr….’ Oops, sorry, I could almost hear my reader snore away to glory.

Thanks to our Indian psyche thickly wax coated with the formal Britain English, it is simply impossible for us to cocktail humor and matter. Traveling and writing light is simply unthinkable… and wit? No way in an official document!

Wondering if I should include humor and light language in my Technical writer’s quality checklist. Otherwise, no donuts for myself!

BTW, did you notice my heading? Now what did I say?


  1. Well i agree to the part that We cannot cocktail humor and matter.... A matter of fact that people are not humored when you present the matter with a pinch of sarcasm or wit.

    Even for internal mails use of comic expression is considered insubordination and irreverence.

    Things can change, for instance I have made a name for myself at office (as a big buttock (or you could use the common version that starts with A that everyone so fondly use)) and now people don't consider my sarcasm as a personal attack but my mode of talking.

    So there are changes happening here and I am positive.

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