One of the things that quite irritates me in the world of instructional material, online help, academic writing, papers and the like is the assumption that everyone knows how to do something or what something is.

I keep coming across this and have to say it’s lazy writing.

When you say ‘do the X’, or the ‘X does this’, if you haven’t clearly defined ‘X’ then you are creating a situation where you are being deliberately obscure.

Today I ran into this problem with a website control panel system I hadn’t worked with before. Here, ‘X’ was ‘Website Record’ and this had to be updated for many varied reasons.

Documentation said to ‘update the website record’ but didn’t say how. Forums spoke about ‘just update your website record like you have in the past’. Nowhere in the help was there a reference to HOW to update the website record for those of us who haven’t done this before in this particular system.

There are instructions here for setting up the stats systems I’m trying to get to work:

with links to the magic ‘website record’ information which gets me nothing. What is a website record I ask? No-one else uses this term as far as Google is concerned, so I keep hunting and find this:

Okay, a bit of progress. Ah, but not quite; the magic ‘edit’ button is missing.

After 3 hours work trying to get this damnable control panel to actually behave, I’ve raised a support request and will see what they have to say. At the end of this debacle, I’m going to suggest the client moves hosting companies because, quite frankly, web apps shouldn’t be this complicated to set up.

Right, off to scream a bit now.


The response from tech support was that the documentation was out of date. Brilliant work there.




Author: gotheek

Sometime writer, full time human.