Heal Your Church WebSite

Teaching, rebuking, correcting & training in righteous web design.


RTSM == Read The Stinking Manual. I know, I know … I’m treading on thin ice here with that acronym, especially for you real programmers and army veterans know what the real acronymn is, and what it means … consider this the “cleaned-up, sanitized, ready for prime time Christian” version of a rather old, well known and often delivered deragatory.

Whenever I hear the phrase (usually in the secular form), I’m reminded of an oft told story from the annals of the computer help desk that dialogs as follows:

Tech: “XYZPDQ Computers – this is Brenda – How may I help you?”
Cust: “The cup holder on my XYZPDQ 500sx is broken.”
Tech: “Cup holder???????”
Cust: “Yes, the one that comes out of the front of my computer.”
Tech: “I’m sorry, but I don’t think any of our computers come equipped with a cup-holders.”
Cust: “They most certainly do! It’s right here in front of me, it has a label on the front that reads CDRW and 24x10x40!”
Tech: “[stunned silence and the prayer 'forgive them Father, for they know not what they do**']”

A variation of this theme found its way in to the Washington Post in an article entitled Why Won’t We Read the Manual? [via via WPTS] . Of course, aside from people running their floppies in the dish-washer and/or Protestants refusing to use Windows because’ they don’t believe in Icons’ (no lie), there is at least a handful of reasons I can think of that manuals are not read.

First being that we live in a society that no longer reads, but wants everything delivered in the stylings of MTV. I mean if I can’t get my Sunday school students to read Titus over the course of a week, how can we expect them to RTSM to a computer or digital camera? The article describes how Subaru, instead of jacking up their help desk, opted for a small fold-out “quick guide” that could be tucked in the glove compartment or above the visor.

Hmmmm … perhaps that’s an idea for Church web servants? Print out a little fold-out that users could keep next to their computer? Distribute them via your church’s library, or even in a Wednesday night bulletin. Create a .PDF version and the user can download it and print it for themselves. Seems sorta stupid for something online, but I could see how it might appeal to more ‘senior’ users.

Back to causes for not reading manuals. There is what I call the “bindary bilkathon” that is otherwise known as technical books. It appears tht many companies offer manuals that are online, difficult to read or just plain old wrong – compelling you to buy a book on the topic. Where it really gets suspicious are those huge software companies whom also possess interest in a publishing firm.

Finally, there are those manuals written by geeks like me who are better at producing regular expressions than expressing ourselves in a regular fashion. Or to use a very old programmer’s addage : “if it was hard to write, it should be hard to use.”

One Comment

  1. My wife is the financial secretary at my church. She had to write a “Giving envelopes 101″ guide for our members.

    One person dropped a 10K cashier’s check in the offering without any indication who gave it. Then he wondered why it wasn’t on his giving statement.

    “Forgive them Father, for they know not what they do.”