Spacefem (spacefem) wrote,

the computer confidence factor

Someone linked to this article on slashdot, and I figured I'd talk about it here rather than commenting on slashdot, because no one there knows me anymore. le sigh.

computer people: do not be an asshole to your users. do not tell them they're stupid or talk down to them. because quite frankly they're not. maybe they don't have computer degrees or certifications, but that doesn't mean they're morons, it just means you know things they don't and they know things you don't.

two huge reasons why technical people should not talk down to non-technical people:

1) First, no one will like you, and that only makes it easier to outsource you to bangalore. I mean, if you have no interest in connecting with users there's obviously no reason to keep you within connecting distance, right? if you don't believe me, fine, just wait. might want to learn kannada while you're waiting.

2) Your software will suffer, because everyone will be afraid to tell you how to improve it. I've personally experienced this all over the place... getting a user to test a website is darn near impossible these days, because everything they say starts with, "I might just be too stupid to find the link, but..." They don't even start to think that they're not the only person with that problem and you can easily do something about it. If they're confused, they just figure "I'm not confused because this link is in the wrong place, I'm confused because this is computer world and 'stupid' is just the way I'm supposed to feel."

Someone at slashdot brought up the idea that the condescending nature of IT is partially to blame for the lack of women applying to IT schools... I can sort of see it. I always talk about my freshman year and getting to the realization that these guys who seemed to know everything didn't really know any more than I did, they were just more confident and more likely to dive into something whether or not they knew about it. Women aren't as confident. We're easier to intimidate in that way. But that's sort of irrelevant, because I think the thing to do about that issue doesn't involve telling the IT industry to be professional and treat us with respect as much as it involves us just refusing to take it and be told we don't know anything. Maybe general awareness about how many a-hole software engineers they are would help. hard to say.
Tags: computers
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