Duncan's blog

August 1, 2008

How not to do error messages

Filed under: Web — duncan @ 7:00 am
Tags: , , , ,

While trying to get signed into Adobe Buzzword, an online word processor, I ended up having to do a password reset. I typed in a new password, and got the following useful error message:
Buzzword encountered an unexpected error
Well that wasn’t a good start. So I clicked the ‘more info’ link, only to get this delightful message:

Luckily I had a pretty good idea what ‘PasswordNeedsMoreNonAlphaChars‘ meant. But can you imagine this being understood by say your mother, or in fact anyone without even a basic knowledge of programming? How hard would it have been for the developers to have turned this into ‘Your password must be a mixture of letters and numbers/symbols’?



  1. Hey Duncan, that’s definitely a bug. Though you wouldn’t know it from these screen shots, we actually pride ourselves, most of the time, on error messages that will make sense to your mom. This is a case where we got it wrong.

    Thanks for posting the screen shots, and we’ll look into getting it fixed.

    -David Coletta
    Buzzword Developer
    Adobe Systems Incorporated

    Comment by David Coletta — August 1, 2008 @ 2:05 pm | Reply

  2. thanks for the speedy reply David. I hadn’t even considered submitting this as a bug, so it’s good to know someone out there’s looking at this blog at least.

    Comment by duncancumming — August 1, 2008 @ 5:38 pm | Reply

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