curse of knowledge : Java Glossary


curse of knowledge

Have you ever read documentation that you could not make any sense of? Documentation ripe with information on obscure options, but that gave you no idea what the program was for or how to use it in the ordinary cases? The problem is the curse of knowledge. The author knows too much. He cannot put themselves in the place of a newcomer. To him everything is obvious, so does not need to be stated. Only thing unobvious to him rate exposition. The classic examples are typical Unix man pages that treat every one of 50 options as equally important, written in a BNF (Backus-Naur Form) dialect without examples.

Even a precis often presumes the reader already knows what the program is for. The error the author makes is presuming the reader is just as much of an expert in vocabulary as the author.

Sometimes the author gives too much detail or nitpicking exceptions and hides the essential message.

How can you, as author, avoid these problem?

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