I have written a few error messages for my company that contain mild, self-deprecating humor. The errors address a rare, anticipated bug during which the application times out shortly after launch and closes itself. For a few different versions of the error, the message reads:
[Application] has encountered an error and hidden in embarrassment. Please call Tech Support at . . . .
[Application] has stepped on its own toes. Please call Tech Support at . . . .
Note: There is no way for the user to fix the error alone.
I have received mixed feedback about the error messages. I have tried to interview users about the message, and when I offer options, users usually smile and laugh at the above messages, then state that they would prefer a more serious, jargon-filled message. I am concerned that the users are not saying what they really feel, but I don’t want to read my own bias into the interview results.
Some humor in error messages has usually delighted me in the past, but I am wondering if the practice needs to be different for bugs than for user error. Are there any thoughts on this topic or how to test it well?