Category Archives: Poor Error Msg

Good Error Messages Can Be Easy

Here is an error message I encountered one day.  It is frustrating, because obviously the code was checking something, but it is frustrating because you get no real clues what the problem really was, and a simple change would make … Continue reading

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Context Error Reporting

One of the biggest mistakes I see programmers make when writing an error message is to forget to include details about the context into the message.  The message effectively “assumes” that the reader knows the context, but that assumption is … Continue reading

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Two Kinds of Exceptions

An exception is a message from the system to the user about something that the program can not handle. There are a couple of main categories of exceptions: environmental and program logic. They warrant quite different treatment.

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Error messages should be very literal

We all struggle with the correct wording for error messages. It is not easy. But I ran across an example today that should help understanding

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"Oops something failed" is NOT acceptable error message

I try to keep track of real-life situations where poor error messages appear. That happened again today. This message was displayed to the user:

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Error Message should be clear, plain, and direct

This post is about a real error message I received and puzzled through.  Luckily, because I was working with open source code, I was able to see a copy of the source, and only then did I understand what the … Continue reading

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Usability Means Not Jumping Through Hoops

The image of being forced to jump through hoops is one of being required to take arbitrary actions in arbitrary orders just to satisfy some goals that are either unseen or at least not in the interest of the user. … Continue reading

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Gathering Error Report Information

In the last post, I clarified the Purpose of Error Reporting is to give user/administrators information to solve the problem that they have encountered.  This post outlines a way to gather the best information together for that error message.

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The Purpose of Error Reporting

Error messages are part of every user experience, but too often these messages are poor, cryptic, and insulting.   Too often programmers do a half-hearted attempt at writing error messages, mostly because they mistakenly assume that users will never see them.  Too … Continue reading

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Trasparency Advantage

This is an example of some open source software that I had difficulty using and how to improve it.  A common principle is that of transparency: when something goes wrong, don’t hide it.  Don’t cover it up.  Don’t attempt to … Continue reading

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