The UX of California Propositions

California is a pain in the ass.  They have these propositions and initiatives and special elections ALL THE TIME.  Every single time we have to vote, they ask us questions that we can not answer.  It is terribly designed user experience.  Never ask a question that has significant implications that the user has no way of knowing.  It makes it so that they can not effectively answer the question.  Example:

Prop 92
This proposition is to lower the cost of community college.  I went to community college and really appreciated what it did for me.  I support higher education for low income students and want to do my part to support community colleges in the state.  HOWEVER, it does not say how it will pay for this.  So there are a couple of possibilities.  Raise taxes or cut spending.  If republicans are in charge, I imagine they will cut spending to programs that I love dearly. They will cut public transportation, healthcare, k-12 education and even cut community college support funds.  They will gut the system.  If the democrats are in charge, they will probably raise taxes somewhere else, but I have no idea where.

How can I possibly answer the question?  Why are they asking me in the first place?  We elect legislators to make the laws and decide the spending.  The people are not informed and can not possibly make a wise, complex decision based on 3 paragraphs of information.  My message to California:  STOP ASKING ME!  Go figure it out yourselves!  We elected you to make these decisions, not to pass the buck!

In your application, there is a very real corollary,  Dont ask questions that have implications that the user can not disinguish. Example:

Permanently delete.  Does this mean that all the data can never be recovered?  Does it just hide it?  Are there implications for other items that use this first item as a dependency?

Be sure to give options to the user, but try to figure out a system where the user can undo anything and can make decisions with minimal consequences.  It’s hard, but you can do it.  The user elected you to design the system, not to ask them endless questions.

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