Too dumb for instructions

I'm starting another new series called Communication Pet Peeves.  I'll put these out about once a month or so, but I just have to kvetch about this  (My Jewish heritage coming out and I hope I spelled that right). As a member of the non techie community, I have to say one of my biggest communication pet peeves is when I am in need of some "help file" and I can't make heads or drivel out of the online manual.  It's usually written in Tech-ese and I'm not even conversational!  Tech manuals usually start with step 67 moving quickly to steps 68, 69 and 70 followed directly afterward by step 107! Um...Ya lost me!  Will someone climb down the technology ladder to step one and help me up?  I think the ladder is over here...oh, sorry, that's the staircase.  Isn't the ladder the same things as a staircase?  No?  They look the same...they both have steps.  Where's the ladder?  Over by the what?  Oh, the living room.  I thought I was in the living room.  Oh, that's the family room?  Sorry, they both have couches, but, yes this room is more family like, I guess.  Where?  Over on the west side of the house.  The west side...  Am I on the west side? If I turn left, will I be on the west side?  The south?  Can you just tell me to turn left or right. I don't know which way is west or south.  Ok, I've turned right now I go five paces?  How long is a pace? Does this sound familiar?  Do you ever feel like, "Hey, Techie Man!  If I knew all this stuff, I wouldn't NEED the manual!"   Ever get an email that's clear as mud?  I can't tell you the number of times I've called web hosts like Go Daddy to ask how something works and hung up with a Tech Headache.  Go away, Daddy! What techie people need to understand is that...wait for it...listen carefully now...


Yes, Trenton TechnoGuru, not everyone even understands the terms you use, let alone how to get to the data file or any other "flibberty jibbet."  You need to actually tell me where that is. You may need to lead me there!  I need you to S P E L L it out for me, Tommy TechnoBabble! Go to and click the big, fat, red polar bear.  Click on the link in the middle of that page that says, "THIS IS THE LINK YOU NEED TO CLICK ON" and it will take you to that screen. I have to say that my web designer/host has a fabulous way of giving instructions.  Traci sends a video showing all the screens I need to click through, one at a time!  She doesn't design websites any more, but she does do some work for website owners.  You can check her out here! There is a whole series of videos she made for her clients so that we Techno Ding Dongs can have the benefit her experience w/o her having to take more time or charge us for little things.  At least she thinks they are little things.  I love the way she works because she understands that non techies may not even know the right questions to ask.  She knows how to give you the information so that it makes sense.  Kudos to Traci, but she is only one of a very few techies who know how to talk to us non techie types.  She knows that the first rule of business is..."Never make your customers feel dumb." I'm apparently too dumb for most tech instruction manuals.  How about you?  Got any other communication pet peeves I should cover in future installments?  Speak up!  Just, please, don't speak Tech-ese!


  • jojosblog

    Exactly, Leslie!

  • L. Hines

    I think one of the problems with tech manuals are they are originally written by Japanese engineers and then translated to English by someone who doesn’t understand English very well. Or they are written by English techies who speak a language only other Techies can understand. I usually have to ask my techie husband to translate into plain English.

  • jojosblog

    I hear ya on that one, Carla! As the technology is getting more user friendly, it is less of a problem, but if you don’t get something, the tech manual probably won’t help you.

  • Carla

    Oh, you know you’ll get a big AMEN from this Techynoidjit!!! I am the same way. Give me the instructions in basic English, please. Talk to me in Technodork 101, not 503! It’s a big problem for me. I just got a new “smart” phone. The “instruction book” that came with it is. . . well, it barely give you instructions at all! It’s got lots of picture of hot (supposedly) young wunderkinds in it with speech bubbles gushing, "Oh, this is so great when you. . . " I’m sure it would be great if I could. . . " UGHHHHHHHHHHHHH So I go find the actual manual on the web and download it. It’s not much better. I’m still somewhere on Page 5 of about 100. I can make calls and text. (I could do that with my old $15 el-cheapo phone.) That’s about it so far. Will she ever learn? Film at 11. . .

  • jojosblog

    Thanks for the Retweets, folks! So glad you all enjoyed this. Thanks for posting your comments, Becky Joie, Cindy and Mary!

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