[development] Usability: module idea

Jeremy Epstein jazepstein at gmail.com
Sat Oct 14 14:30:51 UTC 2006


On 10/14/06, Dries Buytaert <dries.buytaert at gmail.com> wrote:
> Maybe it would be a good idea to create a small module that extends
> help text and error messages with a rating widget?
>    "Was this error message useful? [*****]"
> The response should get send to Drupal.org and then we can prioritize
> problematic messages.

This sounds awfully similar to the infamous WinXP message: "This
program is not responding. Please tell Microsoft about this problem."
Now, I'm not saying that this is a bad idea, but I am saying that it
immediately makes me think: "why is Drupal trying to be like
Microsoft?", and That Is Bad (tm).

I for one, as a WinXP user, have trained myself to instinctively click
the "Don't Send" button whenever I see this message. My instinct will
no doubt carry over to any such message that makes it into Drupal.

> We could ship this module with the Drupal 5.0
> betas but leave it out once the final release ships.

Shipping this module only with beta versions is the only acceptable
way to do it, IMHO. No way should any users be having a module such as
this enabled on a live site - it would be almost as bad as having the
devel module enabled (and accessible to all users).

I don't really like the idea of an application "bugging" me for
feedback about itself. We can gather information that in the long run
will improve the usability of Drupal, but we should consider that the
information-gathering tool itself is a hindrance to usability. It
could also result in people thinking of Drupal as an "annoying"
application, and the fact that users are being asked to send
information to a central server could also lead to a lack of trust in
Drupal's commitment to privacy. Of course, people would trust Drupal
with their feedback much more than they trust Microsoft, but still, we
don't want to push our luck.

If a module like this makes it into core for 5.0 beta, then my number
one concern is that it be disabled by default. Users can enable it if
they wish to, and they should be encouraged to do so (e.g. through an
announcement on the front page of drupal.org). By forcing users to
choose to enable the module, we will receive a much higher proportion
of real feedback (as opposed to blind-dumb-deaf feedback, or even
automated spam feedback). We will also be upholding Drupal's
reputation as an app that respects the privacy of its users, and that
doesn't try and force them to disclose information.

Overall, this gets a -1 from me. It will potentially damage Drupal's
integrity, and I think it unlikely that it will actually provide us
with much useful feedback.


More information about the development mailing list