Every user query is a puzzle

The user didn’t really mean to give you a level 5 puzzle to solve. But that’s what it is. Every time the user asks you to help him solve a software related problem, he’s giving you a puzzle.

Sometimes, it’s a level 1 puzzle, where you don’t even need to fire up your code editor to glance through the code to answer, or give more than a few seconds to think through. Sometimes, you have to really push for lots of hints, like clarifying the user’s query, ask for screenshots (even if sometimes they aren’t enough…), and dig through code archives.

I got a level 1.5-ish puzzle lately… The user said he couldn’t use the delete button. I fired up the application, selected a record, and indeed the delete button was disabled. On a whim, I double-clicked. The details of the selected record came up, and the delete button was enabled.

I have never seen or used that particular section of the application before. The user on the other hand, was supposed to be familiar with the application. Perhaps I’m more willing to try out typing randomly or aimlessly clicking the mouse on an application screen. I certainly typed enough asdf’s…

So, have you encountered any high level puzzles? Share in the comments.