Many thanks to Tristan Morris for creating a beautiful illustrated hardcover print edition of the site

(Siamo spiacenti, questa pagina non è ancora stato tradotto in italiano.)

This same monk maintained a site that sold agricultural tools to local farmers. It lately had caused these farmers much frustration, so the monk resolved to follow master Bawan’s advice and offer the Four Words of Distress to his users as quickly as possible. For when an angry farmer wants to get his point across to a developer, that point is usually at the tip of a scythe.

- - -

The monk devoted his first sprint to providing Help buttons throughout the interface, implemented as links into the online user manual. This, he thought, would take the least time and effort—and besides, farmers should appreciate the value of low-hanging fruit.

But soon after deployment the monk found a note stuck into his door, on the business end of an axe:

Drowning, I cried out to your boat for Help.
You threw a heavy tome and rowed away.
A friendly voice was all the rope I needed—
Now I crave the sort that makes a noose.
- - -

The monk devoted his second sprint to providing Cancel buttons throughout the interface, so that any action of importance would only proceed after confirmation.

But soon after deployment the monk found a second note stuck into his door, this one on the tines of a pitchfork:

When asked, Do you truly wish to cancel your order?
my only choices were OK and Cancel.
I chose Cancel, yet received ten thousand pitchforks—
I shall send one to your posterior... OK?
- - -

The monk devoted his third sprint to providing an ever-present Undo button, so that any action could be reversed. This took the greatest time and effort, yet he was well-pleased with the result.

But soon after deployment the monk found a third note stuck to his door, this one held fast by garden-spikes:

A penitent man cries, what have I done?
Merciful gods vow to turn back time.
A cricket chirps. All else is still—
Now the man cries: what have I un-done?
- - -

That evening Bawan informed the monk that a line of townsfolk had been seen advancing up the mountain, holding various farm implements which glinted in the setting sun.

The monk declared, “Three of your Four Words have failed me!”

The master replied, “Eku had a parrot that repeated her words faithfully, but no one went to the parrot for wisdom.”

“How can I placate my users?” asked the monk.

“The parrot placated Eku’s cat at dinner-time,” said Bawan.

“There is still the Fourth Word of Distress,” said the monk. “Can it save me?”

“Only if you invoke it yourself,” said Bawan.

The monk hit the Off button on his workstation and fled the mountain forever.