The Disconnect Between Tech Savvy Users and Average Users

I write about technology for a living. I explain how technology works, and I write for self-described tech geeks, as well as for “average users,” and even technophobes. Naturally, not all of my articles or books are targeted at this broad an audience. In my Macworld articles, I may write, say, about how to manage Apple’s Time Machine backup feature using the command line, or I may answer reader questions about simple features in the iOS 10 Music app.

Here on Kirkville, I also cover a wide range of topics. Not every article I write is for everyone. (And I don’t only write about technology, but right now, I’m discussing my articles about Macs, iTune, iPhones, and more.)

I allow comments on this site; something more and more people are terminating. I feel that a good discussion is useful, and commenters often provide useful information, telling me about their experiences, or correcting me when I’m wrong. Most of these comments are polite and helpful; some are angry and hateful, and are a symptom of the problems with comments on major websites. Anonymity allows people to hate very easily.

I rarely delete comments: I do so only when the commenter’s vocabulary is unacceptable, or when comments are simply hating. One thing I notice is that most of the comments I delete are from people who think they are better than me, and better than average users. Who suggest my opinion is stupid, because I don’t know enough about computers. And that they know so much more than me, and let me know, often in great detail.

A recent article entitled Apple Is U2ing macOS Installers to Users Running Older Versions of its Operating Systems drew a number of such comments. There are comments about that article right now that disagree with me, but do so politely. Some slightly less politely. And I’ve had to delete several that were just insulting. But what these comments show is that their authors have no understanding of what it’s like to be an “average user.”

The most popular article on my site for the past couple of weeks has been How to Sort Songs in the iOS 10 Music App by Title. I’ve gotten more than 100 emails about this issue, showing that it is indeed a widespread issue. It’s not hard to fix, but you need to know where to look. This small change in iOS 10 has confused lots of users. Mostly “average users.” Not the computer geniuses who comment on articles saying how stupid it is to complain about a feature that confuses “noobs” but not them.

I try to help all users. If an article I write is too simple for you, there’s no need to send in a hateful comment; just close your window, move on, and go read Reddit or something. And if you don’t like my opinions, then don’t read my articles. But at a minimum try to recall what it was like when you got your first computer, when you needed help to understand how to do some of the most basic tasks. Because there are lots of people in the world who aren’t as smart as you. Remember that we technology journalists don’t always write for the tech-savvy users, but write for everyone.