Stupid Software Tricks

Looked back and saw that WordPress had inserted 8) [I turned off the default conversion to smileys] a smiley face in my posting about Dragon — ?!?! It seems that it automatically translates certain combos of characters to smiley faces. Horrors! So my parenthetical comment about version 8 close parens became a smiley. Blth. I’ve never used emoticons even made with punctuation marks, and no way I would want to be inserting smiley faces into my postings.

In my teaching I often talk about configuring users, meaning either or both of two things: the construct of their users that designers agree to among themselves; and/or the capabilities and responsibilities delegated or denied to users (often combined with their delegation to the system). WordPress has both constructed its users as people who not only use emoticons, but want to substitute cutesy images for them; and arrogated to their software the right to substitute smiley faces for certain combinations of characters, forcing users to wrestle with the software to avoid them — in my case, forcing me to insert a space where it doesn’t belong so that I can write “(version 8 )” instead of it appearing as “version [smiley].”

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2 responses to “Stupid Software Tricks

  1. Isn’t this really just an issue of default configuration? That is, the generation of smileys can be surpressed with three quick steps. It’s shipped, however, with that feature turned on. Maybe they could have two different download sites or ask you some basic questions (like “Do you use emoticons?”) to package your software with the right defaults enabled? (Do we ever talk about default configuration of users?) Might they have consciously made this decision to subtley hint to users that there are places they can look things up to find out more about WordPress’ behavior?

  2. I didn’t download this, I use it from the WordPress site. If there’s a default setting and a way to change it, it’s well buried. And the point remains: they chose THIS as the default, assuming that the majority will want it, leaving it up to the user who doesn’t want this to (1) figure out why and how the emoticons show up and (2) figure out how to override. Re Joe’s last, point, that this is a conscious decision to get user to look things up: highly unlikely!

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