(fwd) Re: Missing the point (was Re: obscenity in super_ufs?)

(fwd) Re: Missing the point (was Re: obscenity in super_ufs?)

Post by Todd Graham Lewi » Fri, 08 Aug 1997 04:00:00

> No, Roger Books did not write.  Nothing you quoted <below> was written
> by me.

Indeed.  My apologies for the sloppy attribution.

Todd Graham Lewis       Manager of Web Engineering    MindSpring Enterprises


1. Missing the point (was Re: obscenity in super_ufs?)

We had that flame war before about this message, on linux-kernel and other
places, and it turned into a big political correctness/censorship war, so
nothing was done.

The problem with this error message is not the fact that it is obscene.
It is the fact that it is useless.  It tells the user nothing about the
source of the problem or what to do about it.

The reason the message should be fixed is not that it is obscene.  It
should be fixed so that it correctly describes the error.

Similarly, applications that print messages like "Intruder Alert" or "You
don't exist, go away" when getlogin() fails are another source of user
confusion.  I remember my early days as a Unix sysadmin when I wound
up grepping the whole Unix source tree (back in the days where we all
had Unix source licenses) to find out why a user was getting such a
message -- he had an stty in his .cshrc, and it was being executed even
when there was no terminal because he didn't have it inside "if ($prompt)".

The purpose of an error message is not to be cute, but to tell the person
who sees it what is going on.  Flaming is fine with me; see the Netscape.ad
file for some great abuse from jwz against Motif, including the line
"Doesn't all this crap just make you want to hurl?".  But notice that
along with the abuse he *explains what the problem is*!

-- Joe Buck     http://www.synopsys.com/pubs/research/people/jbuck.html

Help stamp out Internet spam: see http://spam.abuse.net/spam/

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3. obscenity in super_ufs?

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