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Re: Clueless users are bad for debian (was Let's CENSOR it!)

"Pablo \(Tombstone\) Averbuj" <pablo@gos.nu> writes:

> Executive Summary
> =================
> 	1. Stupid Users are Bad.
> 	2. Stupid Users are Bad for Debian.
> 		therefore:
> 	3. Stupid Users should be ignored. 

Reading "The Design of Everyday Things", by Norman changed my mind on
this issue.  I dislike struggling for 5 minutes to determine how to
set the time on a phone.  I dislike struggling for an hour to install
a Debian package in which I *might* be interested.

A user should not need to be an expert on the entire Debian system in
order to install it.  As far as possible, a novice should be able to
use a system. Yet anyone who is an expert in an area should be able to
control that area of expertise.  These are difficult requirements to
combine.  The expert should never be left out, but the novice
shouldn't be ignored either.  Our installation is good in many areas,
and bad in a few.

smailconf and sendmailconf are wonderful and work for most people
people.  The installation asks a series of simple questions which work 
for the majority of users.  Anyone who wishes, can modify the
configuration scripts by hand.

Our installation walks the user through the creation of /etc/fstab.
This is good.  An expert can easily modify /etc/fstab.  This is good.

Fetchmail configuration has a graphical interface, which can be
modified by hand.  This is also good.

Whenever a stupid user has a suggestion for easier installation of a
Debian package, we should listen, and make a decision, never harming
the expert user in the process.

GUIs and text interfaces aren't always as far apart as you might
expect.  Our installation separates the interface from the underlying
code, We can tack on GUI or text interface as we see fit.  This is

Designing for easy use by a user is often a matter of trial and
error.  We have to watch user errors and help to reduce them.
Climbing a tall mountain is wonderful, but sometimes using a ski lift
is easier.

Kevin Dalley
SETI Institute

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