Re: Using the Term "User"

Subject: Re: Using the Term "User"
From: Chuck Banks <chuck -at- ASL -dot- DL -dot- NEC -dot- COM>
Date: Fri, 3 Dec 1993 13:48:38 CST

In response to Karl Smart's posting:

I don't wish to appear as fossilized as I sometimes feel,
but the term "user" became entrenched in software documents because
it's short and to the point. We can't call the software users
"customers" because they often aren't customers but employees of

"Audience" smacks of the entertainment industry, and that
is not what we or our documents attempt to do. Some of our mistakes
may be very entertaining, but we're not entertainers.

Software/hardware users aren't "readers." They are putting
up with our documents as a source of information about the hardware/
software they're trying to use. Most of our documents are too dry
to be considered a 'ripping good read.'

"Operator" appears in some documents. I've used it myself.
Usually, in my experience, operators are either hardware users or
telephone operators. The danger of confusion, especially in
telecommunications manuals, precludes use of "operator." Besides,
some users resent being called "operators." "Operators" conote
craftspersons, hourly wage earners, not professionals fighting to
understand expensive hardware and software.

Job titles and profession designations are company
specific and are, therefore, out of bounds in most cases.

We are left with "user." I'm sorry news media and
law enforcement personnel have assigned it a drug subculture
conotation. Within the subculture, there are other terms.
So, for now, we're stuck with calling those who use our texts
and graphics "users."

I salute Karl's effort and wish him well. Maybe someone
has a better idea.

Best Regards!

Chuck Banks
__ ________ ______
|\\ | || // Chuck Banks
| \\ | ||_______ || Senior Technical Writer
| \\ | || || NEC America, Inc.
| \\| \\______ \\______ E-Mail: chuck -at- asl -dot- dl -dot- nec -dot- com
America, Incorporated CompuServe: 72520,411

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