Any more orders?

There’s this diner I frequent, where after you order your food, you get a number tag. Then I sit down at a table and wait. When my food’s ready, someone serves it and they’ll ask, “Any more orders?”.

I’ve got everything I ordered, so my answer is “No” (what other answer could I give?), and the server takes the number tag away. My answer was a “No”! The diner actually wanted their customers to say “No” to them? This probably goes against some fundamental principle of Seth Godin‘s.

Here’s a suggestion: Write your boolean checks in the positive whenever possible and relevant.

If you’re concerned with error checking,

if (bError)
   // handle error

If you’re concerned with success results,

if (bSuccess)
   // where's the champagne?

An if (!bError) requires me to think “No”.
Worse, it’s like a double negative equivalent for if (bSuccess)

So, any more orders?

  1. Aaron Falloon

    I’ve often read that it’s better to write in a positive manner as well. I guess it’s sort of an unofficial universal rule that you should always try to be positive.

    It does through up problems when you’re trying to be negative about something though. Trying to be positively negative could be an issue. 🙂

  2. Vincent Tan

    Oh yes, I’ve had instances where it’s hard to write something in a positive manner. The rephrasing just doesn’t sound as powerful.

  3. Ben Barden

    Hmm, I’ve read this twice and I can’t help thinking you’ve forgotten to suggest a better way to get more orders. How about “No more orders?” If you say no… they can say “Ah, so you want more?” If you say yes, they could say “You want more?”

    I dunno… confusing people might sell them something else 😀

  4. Vincent Tan

    I didn’t forget. I deliberately left it out, well, hoping someone might jump in and say something.

    Some clarification. The number tag is used by the diner to keep track of sets of orders. Sometimes, only part of a set of orders is ready and served. This is why the waiters ask if there’s any more food not served yet, or they’d have to look at your receipt to figure it out.

    So here’s my take. Since for most of the time, the orders are promptly served, perhaps “Has everything been served?”? You’d get a “yes” most of the time.

    It’s harder to say fluently though. Not as smooth as “Any more orders?”.

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