Although I’ve been in the software biz a long time and I was a techno-geek before that, I’ve just never been much into reading manuals. In my first IT job interview, they asked me if I read the manual before I started to work on something, and in my unfiltered 20-something-year-old way, I said, “Uhh, not unless I have to.” They laughed, and I asked why. My future boss said, “If you’d told us you ALWAYS read the manual, we’d figure you either a) didn’t install things very often or b) were a liar, ’cause we don’t read the manuals either, unless there’s no way around it.”
All these years later, that’s still true. If I bought a home appliance capable of leveling half the block if I hooked it up wrong, you can bet I’d be looking for the one-page Quick Start instructions, not settling in with a pot of coffee and a 30-page manual. Most technical writing makes me feel like IQ points are being stripped from my brain with every word I read. If I’m to use the product at all, there’s this feeling that I must stop reading while I still have enough brain cells to operate a mouse. 🙂
The same thing happens with some fantasy and science fiction novels, FWIW. If I’ve gotta read 10 pages of gazetteer and take a quiz before I can even get to the damn story — I don’t care how well written it is — I just can’t do it. I’ll take my chances and read the story without taking the prep course. I rip through text at speed-reader levels, so it’s not that it’d take me a long time. I just…resist reading manuals, for whatever reason.
So, imagine my reaction when I see there’s a manual for Star Citizen’s Arena Commander. Heh. Duncan’s already downloaded the bandwidth-gobbling upgrade, and I saw over his shoulder that the controls may be a bit unintuitive to someone who hasn’t braved the manual.
I think I’m gonna try it without reading the manual. It’s pretty, but gahhhh. I just can’t do it. What’s the worst that can happen? It’s not like it can blow up the house or reformat my hard drive. 🙂