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Author: stevenjklein Big funky green star, 20000 posts Feste Award Nominee! Old School Fool Add to my Favorite Fools Ignore this person (you won't see their posts anymore) Number: of 13898  
Subject: Phrase a question for an unambiguous answer Date: 1/29/2013 9:43 PM
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Every day, as part of my job, people call me to fix their computers remotely.

After I answer the phone, I say something like, "Double-click the Remote Control on your desktop, and tell me when you see the prompt for a session key."

(The session key is a special code I tell them over the phone. After they enter it into the software, it lets me view their screen.)

The problem is that after I say, "tell me when you see the prompt for a session key," they say "Okay." and that "okay" can have two possible meanings:

#1: "Okay, I'll tell you when I get prompted to enter the session key." or
#2: "Okay, I see the session key prompt right now."

If they mean #2, I should give them the key as soon as I hear "okay." But if they mean #1, that means I should wait for them to ask me for the session key.

(Meaning #1 is by far the most common, but some folks know enough to launch the remote control app before they call me, so they want the session key right away.)

So my question, dear fellow wordies, is this:
How can I phrase the question such that their answer is unambiguous.

Any suggestions?
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Author: warrl Big funky green star, 20000 posts Old School Fool Add to my Favorite Fools Ignore this person (you won't see their posts anymore) Number: 12895 of 13898
Subject: Re: Phrase a question for an unambiguous answer Date: 1/29/2013 9:51 PM
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After I answer the phone, I say something like, "Double-click the Remote Control on your desktop, and tell me when you see the prompt for a session key."

(The session key is a special code I tell them over the phone. After they enter it into the software, it lets me view their screen.)

The problem is that after I say, "tell me when you see the prompt for a session key," they say "Okay." and that "okay" can have two possible meanings:

#1: "Okay, I'll tell you when I get prompted to enter the session key." or
#2: "Okay, I see the session key prompt right now."

If they mean #2, I should give them the key as soon as I hear "okay." But if they mean #1, that means I should wait for them to ask me for the session key.

(Meaning #1 is by far the most common, but some folks know enough to launch the remote control app before they call me, so they want the session key right away.)

So my question, dear fellow wordies, is this:
How can I phrase the question such that their answer is unambiguous.


"Double-click the Remote Control on your desktop, and read me the prompt when it appears."

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Author: sheila727 Big gold star, 5000 posts Old School Fool Add to my Favorite Fools Ignore this person (you won't see their posts anymore) Number: 12896 of 13898
Subject: Re: Phrase a question for an unambiguous answer Date: 1/29/2013 10:20 PM
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So my question, dear fellow wordies, is this:
How can I phrase the question such that their answer is unambiguous



You say.....

"As soon as you see the prompt for a session key, say 'it's here'."


sheila

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Author: Myownigloo Big funky green star, 20000 posts Old School Fool Add to my Favorite Fools Ignore this person (you won't see their posts anymore) Number: 12901 of 13898
Subject: Re: Phrase a question for an unambiguous answer Date: 1/30/2013 1:26 PM
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When you ask any question that is more than one question at a time ("Do this and then this and then this,") you are leaving yourself open to this kind of a response.

My suggestion would be to give one command at a time.

"Double-click on the on the Remote Control on your desktop."

"Have you done that? OK, let me know when you see the prompt for a session key."

MOI

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Author: sheila727 Big gold star, 5000 posts Old School Fool Add to my Favorite Fools Ignore this person (you won't see their posts anymore) Number: 12902 of 13898
Subject: Re: Phrase a question for an unambiguous answer Date: 1/30/2013 2:25 PM
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My suggestion would be to give one command at a time.


My thought had been to phrase the command in a way that eliminates "okay" as a potential answer. But this also makes very good sense.


sheila

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Author: stevenjklein Big funky green star, 20000 posts Feste Award Nominee! Old School Fool Add to my Favorite Fools Ignore this person (you won't see their posts anymore) Number: 12904 of 13898
Subject: Re: Phrase a question for an unambiguous answer Date: 1/31/2013 9:24 AM
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OK, let me know when you see the prompt for a session key."

If I say that, they might say "okay" immediately, meaning, "okay, I'll let you know when I see that prompt."

I think I'll just ask, "Is it asking you for a session key yet?"

If they say yes, I'll give them the key.

And if they say no, I'll remain mute.

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Author: crassfool Big funky green star, 20000 posts Feste Award Nominee! Old School Fool Add to my Favorite Fools Ignore this person (you won't see their posts anymore) Number: 12905 of 13898
Subject: Re: Phrase a question for an unambiguous answer Date: 2/3/2013 1:12 AM
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When they say "Okay," just say "Do you see the prompt?" It's just an ordinary conversation; it brings ambiguities, and you just resolve them as they arise.

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Author: stevenjklein Big funky green star, 20000 posts Feste Award Nominee! Old School Fool Add to my Favorite Fools Ignore this person (you won't see their posts anymore) Number: 12906 of 13898
Subject: Re: Phrase a question for an unambiguous answer Date: 2/3/2013 1:14 PM
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It's just an ordinary conversation; it brings ambiguities, and you just resolve them as they arise.

In other ordinary conversation, it doesn't bother me so much, but seeing as how I have this particular conversation 15 - 25 times each day, I'm trying to do everything I can to make it easier for all parties involved.

I've figured out that if I just tell them to double-click the remote control icon, I can then remain mute and when it prompts them for a session key, virtually all users will volunteer that information without my prompting them.

I thank you, and all others who got me to think about this a bit more.

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