Source: Archilux (a lighting company)
Somebody sent me an email, entitled “WTF,” containing a copy of this error message, which states that “Your captcha result is wrong”.
They had no idea what the message meant. And why should they? “Captcha” is not a word in common usage among non-geeks. And the page, frustratingly, has no other reference to “captcha,” although it does have a mathematical challenge intended to weed out non-humans (and which, arguably among we geeks, is not a “captcha.”)
The problem is compounded by the fact that the field in error is at the bottom of the page, and not visible without scrolling.
The message is also rather hostile in tone. Telling users they have done something “wrong” is so 1970′s!
Error messages should say, in plain language, what happened, why it happened, and how to fix it.