Let's go WAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAY back to when I first started doing helpdesk support for a local ISP (for where I was living at the time).

I finally convinced the owner of the company that we REALLY should upgrade our existing users to Netscape version 3 (we had been distributing version 1 to that point - that should tell you how long ago it was).

So my team and I spend a week writing up a blow-by-blow, step-by-step, web page that provides the instructions for downloading and installing the latest version of Netscape from the company's website.

We had pictures, and diagrams, and even stepped through mouse-clicks on multiple platforms (as we were support MacOS 7, Win3.11, Win 95, and Win 98 and NT by this point).

About 2 days after we posted the link and information on the ISP website, the helpdesk phone rings. As I picked up the phone, I could HEAR the stream of dog-cussing from an apparently very frustrated user on the other end.

"****net Support, how can I help you?" I say calmly.

"Your blankety blank company is blankety blank useless with this blankety blank software Netscape ..." was the reply.

"OK, Sir, I assume you are trying to install the new version of Netscape?"

"Yes! And it DON'T WORK!"

"Ok, Sir, where exactly are you having the problem?"

"I've been 'clicking here' in your instructions for 20 minutes and nothing is downloading...."


Let me stop and list for you the first 3 instructions:

1) Print out these instructions so that you will have them when you go offline.

2) {hyperlink} Click Here {/hyperlink} to download the latest version of Netscape.

3) Go offline to begin installing Netscape.


Conversation continues - I check the webpage just to make sure my hyperlink is working (and it works fine). So I figure that the end user may be clicking on the item number in the list rather than the actual link.

"Ok, Sir, where EXACTLY are you 'clicking here'?

The following answer caused me to nearly choke audibly...

"Right here on this piece of paper you made me print out!"

Semi-audible choke from me.....

"Ok, ummm, sir, that's not QUITE how this operates..."

So I walk him through getting back online, going to the page, explaining he doesn't need to do step 1 again (he was almost demanding that I let him printout the instructions again so that we could be sure this was going to work), and then explaining how to "click here" on the actual link on the web page.

When we were all finished walking through and he was back online with the newest version of Netscape - the conversation went like this:

"Wow! Works great... Man! I feel like an idiot..."

Another almost audible choke...

"No, sir, you're not an idiot. Just inexperienced..."

Sid Wing
Senior Application Developer
Chief Computer Cook and Bottlewasher