Reply to post: Ring the bell

How do you make those darn code monkeys do what you want? Just give 'em a little nudge

Anonymous Coward
Anonymous Coward

Ring the bell

Positive reinforcement is much older than 10 years. Some guy named Pavlov who liked dogs or some such.

Back in the mid 90's my supervisor decreed all user documentation would be rewritten "in the positive". No more "no" or "do not". Instead of saying "do not use weak passwords" you say "only use strong passwords".

The end result is a much stricter set of rules. The docs become "everything restricted, but here's what you may do" vs "nothing is restricted, but don't do these specific actions". The positive docs inherently define allowed system operations.

Actually worked too. Fewer calls to the helpdesk. Fewer instances of updating the docs because a user found a new "do not". Users bent on circumventing the rules could no longer hide behind the docs. Them saying "the docs didn't say I couldn't" became us saying "the docs didn't say you could".

When we did update the docs it was usually to add a new feature or empower users with a new privilege as opposed to applying new restrictions. It's still a philosophy I follow today. Document in the positive.

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