Automatic tool tips need to die.

I just noticed a typo when re-reading my post (in preparation for sending it to a friend) about software pain, and went to go fix it.  And, in the spirit of that very essay, I'm now going to rant about the experience I had.

Because you see: the effort of doing the edit was impaired slightly by the fact that blogger decided it was time to tell me something about sharing on google+ or something.  I don't know, I didn't really read the thing, because I was trying to get something specific done.  Anyway, it was popping up a sort of "dialog box" kind of thing, over the editing field, being in my face about whatever new feature it was trying to tell me about.  And when I searched on the page for the typo, it seemed to go away for a moment (I guess when the page scrolled, and the CSS-positioning had to get adjusted by some javascript or something), but then it popped right back up.  Right over whatever text I was searching for, which... happened to exist in more places than one in the document (it wasn't a misspelled word, just the wrong word, so the string existed elsewhere legitimately).  So I couldn't tell if I was at the right place yet (let alone make the edit), because this window kept covering up exactly the thing on the screen that I was trying to look at.

I find this horribly non-user-friendly.

If you've got a new feature you want to make me aware of, send me an e-mail about it.  I might actually read it, at a time of my own choosing.

If it's something so dire that using the site can't be done without knowing about it, then don't let me even see the site.  Present me with a page and make me make a decision, or acknowledge that I've read something, or whatever it is you're trying to do.  This is annoying too, and is often over-used, but... still, it's better than the automatic pop-over thing, and if it's really both important and urgent, then it's the right answer.  If it's quadrant 1, don't let me do anything else until it's done.  But you're making something that, for me, is quadrant 4 into something that's quadrant 3, which gets in the way of me doing something I consider to be quadrant 2... and frankly, that pisses me off.

If you want to have tool tips for actual tools, where I actually have to hover my mouse over something to see it, that's totally fine with me.  (I'd like to have the option to turn them off, of course, but I find that in practice, I usually don't.)  And if you want to advertise some new feature or something, that you think I might really like to know about, then I'd even tolerate having a bit of screen real estate devoted to some sort of notice about that.  Make it dismissible, and I'll very likely take the time to read it and then dismiss it at some point when I have half a moment, so that I can get my screen real estate back.

But when you put something that for me is quadrant 4 directly in the way of me trying to get done my quadrant 2 work done, thus making it quadrant 3 (urgent, but not important), you're causing me some pain.  If you want to keep me as a customer[0], please stop doing that, lest I drop out.

Much as I dislike supporting Covey[1], I do like to try to stay in quadrant 2 of his urgency/importance matrix when I can.  Stop feeding me quadrant 3 stuff, please.

Oh yeah, and to the rest of the world: I ask you to stop putting up with annoyances like these.  if you'd like to understand why, please go read that article on software pain (linked up top).

[0] To some small degree, I specifically mean google and the blogger platform team.  Mostly, though, that was just the particular instance of a broader trend that I've noticed which caused me to write this post.

[1] For reasons I won't bother saying here, right now.

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