Tuesday, April 23, 2019

Software is given to extremes

The fall from grace by social media was baked in from the start. Social media is and is based on software, and software is given to extremes.

Extremes are found at opposite ends of a spectrum, and software, by its nature, only sees one extreme or it's opposite. Everything is binary. It's either on or off. One or zero.

I noticed this in using a service today that has had a perpetual and persistent bug. The worst kinds of bugs from a user standpoint are those that do not allow a user to undo a mistake. “I didn't mean to subscribe to that podcast, and now it's episodes won't go away every day even if the podcast is no longer in my list. Enough already.”

When there's a bug like that, it's most frustrating because it's software, and the intended functionality either works or it doesn't. On or off. One or zero. That drives the stake in to a level that can quickly raise emotions of bitterness and rejection. “If you won't let me undo my mistake, I'm gone.” If the function won't work, my only option is to remove the function from my life.

I have no easy answers for this other than for developers to be humble. This could include several things:

1. Keep your product simple and easy to use.
2. Recognize it could have faults.
3. Make it possible, if not easy, for users to let you know of its faults.
4. Fix them.
5. Get back to your users. Apologize for the error. Let them know when it's fixed.

It's rare to find a software developer that does these things today. The small independent developers where I've paid for software tend to be the best at covering all these bases.

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