Re: Computer/IT Jargon List

Subject: Re: Computer/IT Jargon List
From: Cloy Tobola <cloy -dot- tobola -at- ndsu -dot- edu>
To: techwr-l -at- lists -dot- techwr-l -dot- com
Date: Tue, 27 Feb 2007 13:13:21 -0600


Thanks for your note. To clarify, this is for individuals who are communicating with the public -- announcements, training program descriptions, etc.

I had posted about this earlier, and neglected to clarify my intent in the most recent message.

A typical comment I hear: "That announcement talked about the Novell client -- I don't use the client, I just use the shared drives."

Excelsior! -Cloy

Kevin McLauchlan wrote:

Cloy Tobola said:

Below are the items on my current "terms to avoid" list for our ITS department. Additions to the list would be appreciated.


application / program / software – program and software are commonly used by the public. Application is acceptable if the meaning is clear from context.

client – generally avoid when referring to software that connects to a server. Instead use program, “network software,” “network connection software," etc., for clarity.

force – when used in regard to passwords, avoid cryptic phrases like "force a password change."

hyperlink – acceptable, but link (or “page link” for remedial audiences) is clearer.

legacy systems – generally use “former computer systems,” or “existing systems,” or define. The connotation of the term, which may not be obvious to readers, is that this refers to outdated hardware and software.

peripheral – avoid. Specify the particular items (mouse, keyboard, monitor, etc.) if possible or use “external hardware” or “external computer devices.”

phishing - fraudulent e-mails designed to fool users into revealing personal information for criminal gain. Explain.

telephony – telephone and/or network services is a more user-friendly term

versioning, version control – explain that this means the ability to control and track document changes

VoIP – transmission of phone calls over the Internet or other data network, rather than over traditional phone lines. Avoid or explain.

Web-based, Web[-based] application, Web[-based] interface – in most instances, it’s important to explain that Web-based means that information is managed using a “web form,” similar to the process used to order a book on Amazon.

virus – typically understood by non-technical users. Avoid terms like worm and "Trojan horse" when referring to computer viruses. If specifics are required, define.

Hmm. For my company, I'd disagree with 1/3 of those.
Nevertheless, why not modify the wording slightly (take out all the instances of "define", "avoid", etc.), post the list on your internal website, and encourage/command ITS and other purveyors of semi-tech speech to LINK to the relevant definitions on your page. That way, with one central glossary, nobody ever needs to get it wrong.

For occasions when the writer doesn't include the specific links, all the company employees would have a handy page to go look up the puzzling term they'd just encountered. In fact, ITS (and others) could include the basic page link ( :-) ) in a standard footer attached to all their broadcast pronouncements.

Just a thought.

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RE: Computer/IT Jargon List: From: Kevin McLauchlan

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