As part one of the projects I work on, I monitor and maintain an online discussion forum. We recently decided that we were going to require people to register. We did this for several reasons. First, requiring registration to post is far and away the norm for these things. Second, we were getting spammed pretty bad. Not only does this look unprofessional, but there were some concerns that this might catch the attention of one of the higher-ups at the university - and this would be bad. Third, and most important from my point of view, constantly having to go check for spam and then delete it was taking time away from other things which I need to work on.
Realizing that some people were going need to have their hands held to get through the registration process, I wrote up directions. Here's how they originally read:
1. Click on the "Register" button located under the forum logo.
2. Agree to the terms of service (requirement of the company hosting this forum service).
3. Fill out the required account information - you will have to create a username and password, enter your email address (you can select to hide this from people later), and compete the word verification form.
4. Set any other options. The "Profile" and "Preferences" sections of the form are completely optional (the time and date defaults are set to Arizona). The option to disable email display is under "Preferences." You can completely ignore the "Super Quick Reply mod" section.
5. Click submit.
Congratulations! You are now registered!
If you have any questions or problems, please email [the project's email address as a hotlink]
Now, I will admit that I'm a techie, so things like registering for a forum are no big deal to me. I could probably do it with my eyes shut. But apparently, this was too confusing for some people. They couldn't find the "register" link. They couldn't understand sections of the form (the ones I told them they could ignore). They didn't know how to log in. (Oh, for fuck's sake, you can't be this stupid, can you?)
And instead of emailing the project, like the instructions say, they emailed the director of the project! It's not so much that they emailed him as it is they did that instead of clicking on the email hotlink.
What really gets me about this whole thing is that the people who are registering for this are primarily supposed be graduate students, professors, and professionals. In other words, intelligent people! Apparently not. Am I being unreasonable in assuming that people should be able to fill out a fairly simple registration form? I would hope not, but I've been disappointed before.
Serious, these people are supposed to be trained academics. I'm sorry, if you can't understand this simple a registration process, you should have your previous diplomas revoked and you may just want to go ahead and shoot yourself.