General statement on "Error Message"

Started by Theo Gottwald, June 02, 2023, 06:19:45 PM

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Theo Gottwald

This might seem nothing special.
But in fact this is a very important topic.

Who did not have that "Error 99" Message that did not help much?

So here are the points that should be contained in an error-message.

the primary goal of an error message is to assist the user in resolving the issue they've encountered. With that in mind, a suitable name for such an error message could be "UserGuidanceErrorReport" or "ProblemResolutionErrorMessage".
These names emphasize the error message's role in guiding the user towards a solution.

An effective error message should contain the following elements:

1. **Identification of the Error**: The error message should clearly identify the problem. It should include any relevant error codes or technical details that can help the user understand what went wrong.

2. **Explanation of the Problem**: The message should explain the problem in a language that the user can understand. Avoid using overly technical jargon that might confuse the user.

3. **Location of the Error**: If applicable, the error message should indicate where the error occurred. This could be a specific field in a form, a particular operation in a process, or a specific component in a system.

4. **Consequences of the Error**: The message should explain what will happen as a result of the error. For example, it might indicate that a process has been halted or that some data could not be saved.

5. **Guidance for Resolution**: The error message should guide the user on how to fix the problem. This could be a suggestion to try a different action, a reference to a help document, or instructions to contact technical support.

6. **Polite and Positive Tone**: The error message should be polite and maintain a positive tone. It should not blame the user for the error. Instead, it should focus on helping the user resolve the issue.

7. **Consistency**: Error messages should be consistent in their format and tone across the application or system. This helps users to understand and recognize them more easily.

Remember, the goal of an error message is not just to alert the user that something went wrong, but also to help them understand the problem and how to resolve it.

Charles Pegge

Thanks Theo,

I think we need to have the short-form error message, and then the option to get extended error reporting along the lines you describe. But this could be a major project in itself.

Zlatko Vid

that is really big list
I can tell you that i am used to current and short way

ps ..i become angry when i see FreeBasic error messages about suspicous pointer  :o

Theo Gottwald

You are mostly using "Debugging Error Messages",
These messages are for you the programmer.
Theoretically they can look like this:
Because you know what it means, and where it was place,
I am talking from Messages for Users who know nothing.
To give them an "Error - 99" is as good as if you tell them "You are an idiot because you don't know why you get this message".