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I thought I've asked this question somewhere before but I cannot find it.

When a machine enters an error state, e.g. a printer runs out of ink, it will usually display an error message and stop working until the user has noticed the error condition and maybe, done something to fix it (e.g. replace the ink cartridge).

Printers may re-initialize when the housing is closed again, a digital camera may require an input in order to retry moving a stuck lens.

I have to label a button that starts this re-initialization process on a machine, or that causes it to retry whatever it failed to do previously.

What would that be called?

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The "standard error responses" are abort, retry, and fail, now more commonly just retry and cancel. Can't hurt to stick with the classics. – rdhs Dec 23 '11 at 10:43
up vote 3 down vote accepted
  • "Acknowledge" says nothing about what the machine should do
  • "Acquit" is somewhat obscure
  • "Clear" specifies an action with respect to the Error, but the user is generally not concerned with the Error as an abstract object, rather the Machine (and its actions) and the Problem (which can only be addressed physically, not by pressing a button)

As such, I would recommend either of two alternatives:

  • Retry: specifying that the machine should reattempt whatever failed to happen before as a result of the physical problem, presumably because the user believes the underlying problem has been addressed or was temporary
  • Reset: specifying an action with respect to the machine's general state. This one is less useful (it implies the user will need to retry the original action separately), but may be more appropriate if the machine's design prevents it from safely and automatically reattempting the original action without the user's help.
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