No choice is bad, some choice is good, more choice is ... ?
... paralysis, frustration, and generally unhapiness, as explained by this very interesting post from Garr Reynold's Presentation Zen blog (the video of the TED presentation is worth your time).
Two equally interesting applications to what is explained here :
- a political/economical one : the current trend of offering a plethora of choices to customers is actually alienating, and is only meant to drive consumption. Another paradox there is that behind all these choices are actually a diminishing numbers of actual makers and suppliers. These choices are actually "more of the same", or more precisely "an ever-growing more of an every-diminishing same" (cf. Naomi Klein's No Logo)
- a UI design / programming one : whenever you want to add another user-configurable option to your program, think hard. Very, very hard. In this case, the frustration will come not from the fear of missing an hypothetic "even better" choice, but from being asked questions you don't care about, or really don't want to deal with.
To wit, a few hours after reading this post, I was looking at akregator's configuration panel. In it, there's an option to set the archive back-end. It's a combo, with only two choices : "metakit", or "no archive". That this option is clearly unfinished is one thing, the real problem is that it should never have been implemented at all. Which end-user wants to deal with that ? This is really geek stuff, and even then, those who take a kick out of trying every single program of their favorite linux distribution, fine-tuning their environment down to the pixel, but never actually produce anything useful.
This is a spot-on answer to one of my favourite pet peeve : wannabe's who claim they can't live without such and such tool or feature, so removing them would be extremely bad, so please leave it or make it an option. They call to freedom while they're actually selfish morons. This post is part of the clue bat they should be beaten with.