Random frustration: developers who get away with terrible customer service because they make niche software.
A few weeks ago, I actually *blocked* a developer’s support email because he was extraordinarily rude to me and tried to lecture me about “descriptive grammar” when I told him about the nonstandard and inconsistent English on his team’s website.
(A) I wasn’t talking about grammar at all, but spelling; and (B) the kind of descriptivism he was invoking is horseshit—I call it “vulgar descriptivism,” or the invoking of linguistic research methods to devalue the work of copyeditors, professional writers, and others who care.
The research methods themselves are fine, but vulgar descriptivism is bullshit. It’s just fetishising amateurism and ignorance.

I wrote more about it here: expectedly.org/blog/2021/03/b…
In any case, I didn’t ask for a lecture on linguistics, especially when every single argument for his errors that he gave was SUBJECTIVE.

He’s also been weirdly curt with me when I pointed out program-crashing bugs. When I noticed a crash a few months ago…
… he just said, “We’ve already fixed that,” even though the update hadn’t been pushed to all users yet. Is a little bit of decorum too much to ask?

I don’t know if any potential customers are following me here, so I don’t know if I should mention names or not.
But because this is a niche piece of software that has very few competitors, he’s getting away with all sorts of rudeness that wouldn’t be acceptable from Microsoft, Apple, Adobe, or some other large company.

He was also weirdly dismissive when I pointed out stray English…
…in the French version of one of their programs. If I operate a program in French, it should appear in French, not English; that’s not an unreasonable request.

High-end software should have its tutorials written in Standard English.
I like the program a lot, but I don’t know if I want to continue supporting this dude if he’s going to be such an asshole.

But there are very few alternatives that are actually easy to use. FontForge is clunky—although I like the IDEA of open-source software, UX is not always…
…as user-focused as I’d like. I’m pretty picky about user interfaces. I expect things to work smoothly. I don’t like having a lot of barriers getting in the way of what I want to do.
Some of the worst customer-service experiences I’ve had have been with smaller app developers. I want to support indie apps! I often do, too! But I don’t know why the hell we’re still tolerating this flippant attitude toward customer service, UX, or copywriting.
I don’t want my head bitten off just because I pointed out a bug! If your program crashes, that’s not my fucking fault.
They’ve also been dismissive about other things, too, such as date formats that don’t match my operating system’s settings, flags for languages (not appropriate, because some languages are spoken in multiple countries), and the problems with certain business models.
Or localisation—indie developers are often the ones clinging to the idea that US English Is The Only One when Apple, Microsoft, and Google have moved beyond that. You can always add second variants with community-supported translations—I do US-to-UK and UK-to-US localisation.
All these are legitimate concerns, but I feel as though I’m asking for them to write a program that’ll take me to the moon and back.

No, guys, I’m asking you to adhere to standard practices. Apple, MS, and Google include tools to detect users’ date formats.
The Apple operating systems, Windows, Android, and Linux distributions have APIs that detect users’ date formats. There is no reason to hard-code a date format in a desktop or mobile application.

Also, the US date format is the LEAST acceptable internationally.
Very few countries use Month/Day/Year, but if you talked to some of these people, you’d think it was the only date format that existed.

(I myself only use MDY in work writing, since it’s what people expect; in my own writing, I use DMY or YMD, depending on the context.)
I know programming is hard work—I don’t have the patience for it myself—but that’s not the totality of software design or user experience. And if you’re selling something, you should avoid biting customers’ heads off every time they have a question or concern.
And it’s also important to examine any biases you may have, or attitudes that are counterproductive to doing right by the people you’re making software for.

American cultural imperialism often goes unnoticed. People who consider themselves “numbers people” may ignore the…
…standards of written English. They forget that disabled people may be using their software. They’ll throw in mandatory M/F gender selectors. They’ll hard-code date and time formats.

There’s a *lot* that people don’t notice, but there’s often this idea that if you’re…
…in STEM, you know everything, and the humanities and social sciences are worthless, even if you’re making software *for creative people.*

Steve Jobs was a legendary asshole himself, but I think he was right to say that tech should ideally include the liberal arts as well.
And I think empathy is important, too. That’s what this all comes down to—a lack of empathy for the users and their particular needs. They’ve taught themselves not to care.

We need to start caring more, not less.

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More from @phineasfrogg

7 Apr
[content warning: child abuse, CSA, incest, ableism]

The deification of Autism Parents™ isn’t just annoying; it’s horrifying. Not every parent of an autistic child is a saint—some are downright monstrous.
The most obvious examples are the filicidal parents who think that it’s better to have a dead child than an autistic child.

But in many cases, we’re put in situations in which we’re still alive and wish we weren’t.
That was me. My parents were not good parents—ARE not good parents. We have been estranged for almost fifteen years.

I was screamed at, humiliated, degraded, alienated, ridiculed, belittled, and objectified.
Read 19 tweets
5 Apr
#GraphicDesignerProblems: Why don’t any of these grant proposals actually allow good typography and high-quality typefaces? Arial is a cheap Helvetica rip-off, Courier is a pain to read, and Times New Roman… ugh. TNR is the least objectionable, but still!
If a member of a research team knows about typography, they should be able to use it. Why do they REQUIRE proposals to look as though they were made by amateurs who don’t care about design? I don’t understand that at all.
If it’s about ease of reading or availability, they could include Helvetica, Georgia, and Verdana in the list, too. All these are more readable than Courier, which is monospaced.

If they want to enforce a certain length, that’s what word counters are for.
Read 5 tweets
9 Sep 20
Make far-right evangelicals politically irrelevant again.
Just because they wrap their bigotry up in flowery platitudes about the saving grace of Jesus doesn’t mean they’re not dangerous.

Entertaining their views in debates about LGBTQ rights is a mistake, IMO. Their anti-pluralism makes it impossible to reason w/them.
Would we allow overt white nationalists to control the conversation about Black Lives Matter? I hope not. So why do we routinely allow these far-right evangelicals to inject themselves into every single LGBTQ-rights debate?
Read 11 tweets
19 May 20
Things that it’s completely valid to criticise Trump for: corruption, inhumane immigration policies, buddying up with authoritarian evangelicals, giving cover to white nationalists, appointing unqualified and/or destructive people, cronyism, nepotism, selfishness, racism…
…misogyny, homophobia, transphobia, xenophobia, ableism, putting children in cages, family separation policies, bungling the coronavirus crisis response, fucking up the Hurricane Maria response, rampant dishonesty, greed, pettiness, gross incompetence.
On the other hand, there are criticisms of Trump that also attack innocent people: armchair mental health diagnoses, jokes about his weight, comments about his IQ.

I don’t give a fuck how much he weighs. I care about what he’s done to other people both here and abroad.
Read 9 tweets
13 Jan 20
I think I would be less strict about ‘autistic person’ versus ‘person with autism’ if the insistence on person-first language a) didn’t come primarily from non-autistic people, and b) wasn’t constantly used to correct autistic people. (1)
I think a lot of people use person-first language because it’s what they’ve been taught, especially if they’re professionals. But it can also serve as a shibboleth to identify non-autistic people who don’t listen to us, especially if they’ve been told otherwise. (2)
It’s not the phrasing as much as it is everything else that surrounds it: a focus on normalisation and ‘optimal outcomes’, a rejection of autistic culture, the medical and/or pity models.
Read 9 tweets
3 Sep 19
I think a lot of supposedly materialist/empirical disciplines rely more on idealism than they’ll let on. I’ve seen this with psychiatry in particular.
A cultural truism or norm isn’t an objective benchmark; it’s an idealised standard that most people may not even live up to themselves.
For example, look at ‘evidence-based’ practices like ABA—the idea is that therapy can create a non-autistic-seeming idealised person out of an #ActuallyAutistic one. That’s an idealistic stance (in the ‘aspiring to a particular model of the world’ sense.)
Read 18 tweets

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