Allergic to manual-reading

11549095_mAlthough 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. 🙂

Posted in Chatter, Star Citizen Tagged , , permalink

About Suzariel Kel-Paten

Software developer by day, writer and EVE player by night. My three mains are Suzariel Kel-Paten, Ystvan Chang, and Weyland Zaslow. I live in the Southeastern US with my husband and our cats and dogs. I have a Twitter account (@suzariel), but I mostly just read and don't often post there.


Allergic to manual-reading — 4 Comments

  1. I’ve thrown in manual related questions when I have interviewed people for jobs. The important thing for me is that they can read a manual – not specifically if they do or they don’t.

  2. Hey, EveHermit! Thanks for stopping by!

    I think those are great questions, and it’s important for a person to have good enough judgment to know when they SHOULD be reading the manual instead of prying open the case with a crowbar and finding out there’s high voltage inside. 🙂 You can tell a lot about a person from how they answer a question like that.

    I’m more of an index reader, to be honest. Probably comes from my engineering school days. If there was an answer I wanted, I’d go straight to the index and then read the relevant section and some text before and after it. If I still needed info, back to the index I’d go.

    Apropos of nothing, an inadequate index is the main reason the D&D 4e manual made me nuts. I had a helluva time with 4e until I bought an online subscription and could do text searches on the books.

  3. I’m a lot like you, I don’t read manuals unless I have to. Call me stubborn (or a typical man) but I jump right into the deep end. The only exception, interestingly, is game manuals. I read those cover to cover (sometimes multiple times) for games I’m interested in. Usually I do this during the download or installation, because otherwise I’d be playing and not reading.

  4. Hi, Jeff! Reading the Star Citizen manual is definitely something to do while waiting for that download. It was at 100 minutes and counting at one point, when I checked on it. No idea what the final download time was because I went off and did something else for a few hours.

    I’ll read tabletop game manuals sometimes, but not cover to cover. I tend to start skipping around. With video games, I’m more of a jump in and start clicking things person, which I guess is the equivalent of not wanting to ask for directions. 🙂

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