[tor-dev] First-time tails/tor user feedback

intrigeri intrigeri at boum.org
Wed Jul 18 03:38:59 UTC 2012


Andrew Lewman wrote (21 Apr 2012 14:42:54 GMT) :
> I spent the past week in Sweden, attending the Stockholm Internet
> Forum, http://www.stockholminternetforum.se/, for part of it. I made
> a number of tails 0.10.2 usb sticks for people on request. I also
> asked a lot of people their impressions of Tor and Tails. I received
> a plethora of feedback. [...]

Thanks a *lot*, Andrew, for this testing and feedback!
Much appreciated. Please go on. I'm sorry we did not reply to this
earlier with words, but as you'll see bellow, we replied with actual
changes to some of these issues.

> # First issue: Language selection

> The first issue was on the language selection screen. 4 of 8 people
> were confused why it was called "Debian Live System" and not "Tails
> Live System". 8 of 8 knew what language selection meant, but weren't
> sure how this mapped to Tails.

The language selection specific should be fixed by Tails >= 0.11
(no language menu anymore in bootloader),
the "Debian Live" confusing message is fixed in Tails >= 0.12
(custom Tails syslinux menu).

> # Second issue: wifi and tor browser

> The tor browser starts up before the wireless is configured.
> The tor browser then reports a proxy error.

This is not the case anymore in Tails >= 0.11:
iceweasel is started only after the network was successfully configured.

> With some prompting, all 8 figured out the wifi and then didn't know
> what to do. Tor does keep trying to load, and takes forever because
> it needs to download the entire directory. Users have no feedback as
> to what's going on behind the scenes because vidalia is hidden.

I'm a bit surprised, since a notification about the time being sync'd,
and this operation being necessary for Tor to work properly, should be
displayed quite early since Tails 0.10.1.

> 8 of 8 waited patiently for something to happen on the screen.


> # Third issue: green onion

> 3 of 8 people saw the green onion appear in the menu bar up top. These
> three people hovered over it and saw the 'Connected to the Tor Network'
> message. No one knew to double-click on it to get a menu of other things
> to do. No one knew to right-click on it to get the drop-down menu. They
> were presented with the default check.torproject.org 'congratulations'
> page and then sat there.

Hmm... they were asked "to browse to their favorite site", and did not
do anything once they were presented a web browser? I'm at a loss...
Any suggestions how we could make their experience better?

> # Fourth issue: check.tpo is not helpful

> 8 of 8 people saw the default check.torproject.org site telling them
> 'congratulations. Your browser is configured to use tor.' 7 of
> 8 people asked 'where is my browser?' The one who didn't ask this
> question was already a firefox user and recognized the interface.

OK, this clarifies. So, this is a problem of our iceweasel not looking
enough like "a" web browser, apparently. Oops. Probably check.tpo
should be rephrased (s/your/this/, to start with) so that it's clearer
That Thing is the web browser that's configured to use Tor.

> 0 of 8 understood what the IP address message meant. Comments ranged
> from 'is that different than my current IP address?' to 'what's an
> ip address?'

> As an aside, when showing someone TBB on their own laptop, they saw
> the check.tpo site, and then went to Safari and started it up.
> When asked why they did this, the answer was 'safari is my browser.
> this says your browser is configured to use tor.'

This tends to confirm the need to s/your/this/ IMHO.

> # Fifth issue: exit relay congestion/failures

> 8 of 8 people tried to get to their own sites. 'I wonder what my
> site looks like when I'm anonymous' was the most common comment (5
> of 8). For 6 of 8 people, their site didn't load at all, and tor
> browser reported their site was unreachable. All 6 then tried to go
> to google search in their own language; meaning google.es,
> google.se, etc. For 3 of those 6, this didn't work either. They gave
> up and assumed tor was broken or was censoring their destinations.
> [...]
> The user has no feedback as to why their site didn't work. And tor
> assumes everything is working fine.

Wow, this is much worse than any experience I've had :/
I'm not sure how we can help from Tails' side.

> When asked "please find a video you like", they all went to youtube.
> Most of the videos they wanted to see resulted in 'This video is
> currently unavailable.' 8 of 8 assumed it was because youtube was
> blocking tor, not because the video is flash-required. 2 of
> 8 started randomly clicking videos suggested by youtube to see if
> any of them worked. Eventually, 2 of 8 got videos to work with
> youtube and were amazed it worked at all.

OK, this is clearly suboptimal, to say the least, but it's so much
better than it was before 0.10...

> # Sixth issue: no flash, no warning

> 2 of 8 people had flash apps on their website. 4 of 8 had ad banners
> that used flash. All were surprised at the red outline with a snake
> in it appearing instead of their flash apps. None understood
> what happened.

> After an explanation, one person suggested changing the red outline
> with snake to an actual message written inside, along the lines of
> 'this app blocked for your protection. click here to unblock it.'
> I explained why that wouldn't work (because there is no flash, java,
> silverlight plugins installed) and their answer was 'then do not
> show it at all'. Inside noscript, I unchecked the 'show
> placeholder..' option and had them browse again. they were happy.
> It seems if the user cannot do anything about the blocked apps, not
> showing them may be preferred.

I'm convinced. Adding as
todo/NoScript:_hide_blocked_and_unsupported_elements to our TODO list.

> # Seventh issue: shutdown

> I asked all 8 to shutdown tails and let me know when they thought
> their data was safely no longer on the system. 1 of 8 figured out
> how to shutdown tails by clicking the big red button in the upper
> right corner. The rest hit the power button on the laptop.

This is unfortunate, but I'm not sure we can do much better than a big
red button for first time users. Hopefully users who care (or should
care) about RAM forensics eventually notice that button, or
learn documentation...

> After rebooting, i showed them all they could just pull the usb
> drive to do it as well. As soon as tails started shutting down, they
> all assumed everything was safe and tried to power off the laptop.

Any chance a graphical splash screen would work any better than the
text-mode version of that we already have, which already explains
what's going on (but probably a bit lost among other confusing
text-mode message most users are not inclined to read)?

Thanks again, cheers!
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