Hacker News new | comments | show | ask | jobs | submit login

The other thing Alex posted is firefox really gives you no indication of why the internet looks weird and is breaking left and right. So you can disable js or images or ssl and unless you're lucky enough to know a programmer or IT person really have no guide to undoing whatever happened.

If "the internet" is suddenly breaking left and right after you've disabled certain features wouldn't you try re-enabling the features?

You give people way too much credit. Keep in mind most people still blatantly deny changing anything when something goes wrong for whatever reason. "I didn't even do anything, it just broke."

I remember a user flat out lying about what an error box said over the phone. I asked her to read it out, she gave be what was in her head, not on the screen. I asked her to read it word-by-word, she did the same. I asked her to read it out letter-by-letter ("I've never seen that error there before, I want to get it exactly right so I can ask the programmers...") and then she actually looked at what it said.

Oh the dread that phone support brings back to me... The number of "tricks" we had to use to get users to tell us what they actually saw, and do what we actually told them, rather then what they thought they were looking at or thought they should do...

Anyone interested in psychology should do phone support for a few weeks...

Can you share any specific incidents? This seems like it would make a very popular HN story.

I still don't understand why people do this. They get so frustrated (or defensive or something else) that they refuse to tell you what is on the screen and/or make something up.

My guess is that they dismiss error boxes too quickly, or work ahead of you and are afraid that you'll figure it out if they tell you what their error box actually says, and they'll get an F on the test and will have to go to summer school.

That's a defence mechanism against support people that aren't there to help, but just to make them give up before they are allowed to talk with someone that can actualy help.

The problem is that once trained, people start doing it instinctively, even with the people that can actualy help.

On the flip side, I remember playing "Windows XP: The Roleplaying Game" with AT&T support, when they wouldn't give some very simple network config information without me checking a bunch of things on Windows with IE first.

I am pretty sure putting "disable js" option into advanced tab would be enough.

There are plenty options that can bug your browser or leave you unable to surf, why remove this particular one?

From what I understand, the ultimate goal is to remove them all (i.e. exile them to about:config, add-ons and the like).

You're presuming people know what they're doing. If someone clicks a bunch of boxes and things break, they might not know what boxes they checked/unchecked, they might not know how to get back to that window again (which menu item was it again? ).

If you think users aren't that stupid, you're wrong, they are that stupid. If you think people should not use the Internet if they don't understand that much, then you're suggesting kicking a large chunk of the population off the Internet. If you work in IT, kicking a lot of people off the Internet is a surefire way to reduce your industry's size.

Not if you disabled it while fiddling with a bunch of firefox options late at night, and then didn't notice anything broken until the next morning.

Not if someone borrowing your computer for 5 minutes disables it.

replying to myself: one more way apple simply makes better software: safari offers a simple reset option that seems to reset all browser settings. Now, this doesn't help in the case of a user not understanding what went wrong, but I can tell someone over the phone "click on safari -> reset safari" far more easily than walking someone through deleting a firefox profile while saving bookmarks or reinstalling firefox and creating a new profile. I don't like safari as a browser, but it's to apple's credit that they offer this simple option so I tell my mother / mother-in-law to just click reset if the internet is weird.

A novice was trying to fix a broken Lisp machine by turning the power off and on. Knight, seeing what the student was doing spoke sternly – “You can not fix a machine by just power-cycling it with no understanding of what is going wrong.”

Knight turned the machine off and on.

The machine worked. [http://planetvermont.com/v9n2/machine.html]

In firefox, go to "about:support", "reset firefox." Probably not exactly the same (and it's not exposed as easily) but it's there.

'about:support' is also accessible via Help->Troubleshooting Information.

thank you

Internet Explorer also has these reset buttons

Surely the best solution to "Firefox isn't very helpful about indicating when you've made a possibly breaking change" is "Firefox should indicate when you've done so", not "Firefox shouldn't let you"?

Guidelines | FAQ | Support | API | Security | Lists | Bookmarklet | Legal | Apply to YC | Contact