Notifications: uselessness of

Lars Wirzenius lars at
Wed Feb 25 17:14:30 GMT 2009

ke, 2009-02-25 kello 09:43 +0000, Mark Shuttleworth kirjoitti: 
> Oliver, this was not constructive feedback. 

I'm going to give some more harsh-ish feedback. I'll try to formulate it
politely, but I apologize beforehand for failing to do so.

Notifications are always interruptions. When something new pops up on
the screen, it interrupts my thought and my work, and if I'm "in the
zone" (also known as "in hack mode"), that interruption may cost about
fifteen minutes of effective work time.

It doesn't matter what it is that pops up on the screen: be it a
notification bubble (old or new design), a new window that causes the
task bar to change, or an application that causes its task bar button to
blink. Or something else.

I don't like it when those things happen. All applications should, in my
opinion, strive to interrupt the user as little as possible, especially
by default. If the user really wants to be notified of every incoming
e-mail, that's fine, but by default, in my opinion, the Ubuntu desktop
should consider the vast numbers of people who use their computer as a
tool, rather than as a toy. (I'm sure more people use computers as toys,
but they should then be happy to go through the menus to enable all
sorts of notifications.)

The notifications I would like to see are for serious things: when I'm
about to lose data, or cause a security breach to happen, or endanger
someone's health or property. Trivial stuff like new e-mail or IM
messages or highlighted lines on IRC should be turned off by default.

Most applications don't have a way to configure off notifications. For
example, Epiphany always notifies me when it has downloaded a file. Most
of the time, this happens within five seconds of when I initiated the
download, making the notification useless. Other times, the download
will take a while, perhaps up to hours, and I don't care exactly when it
ends. I would prefer to ask to be notified in specific instances when I
do care, rather than be uselessly notified all the time.

Because of this, I find all the work that is going into making
notifications prettier to be misdirected.

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