Web Name Games
Blogs began their life as online journals. Then weblogs became the word, which eventually was shortened to blogs. Do you still call them online journals? Weblogs? Or are you “with it” and call them blogs?
Every once in a while I run across an article by a new blogger or an article not updated from five years ago that refers to blogs as weblogs. I saw one reference that called them weBlogs – not referencing a company but in a sentence about blogs in general.
When I see someone calling blogs “weblogs” I think that they aren’t up with the times, don’t you? When I see people using old terminology or wrong terms, I try not to judge them, but it’s really hard, since their words are all I have to evaluate. The wrong name for something can put me totally off. It tells me that they don’t know what they are talking about, and they certainly aren’t going to give me new and valid information. Do you feel that way?
The language, especially the language of the web, is evolving quickly. I remember when we laughed at Yahoo being a silly name for anything, let alone an Internet directory, then giggling over Google. Not much giggling now. These words are part of our every day lingo and we google for information without a second thought at what we are saying.
I’m not a proper name snob, but I do like calling things by their proper name. We’ve talked about what name you should or shouldn’t use in a blog comment form, and the majority believe that it should be your proper name, or at least one that sounds “normal” rather than keywordy or cutesy like Search Engine Optimization King or Sexy Kitten. We’d much rather talk to a real person than a CB handle.
Still, I was raised with a love and passion for nature and the first steps into the complex and chaos of nature came with lessons on what the various things were called. I learned traditional names, name variations, and even latin names for weeks, flowers, plants, trees, birds, frogs, insects, and even fish. Years later, I read a quote that I continue to use today when teaching nature and travel photography courses: If you teach a child the names of the weeds, they’ll have a harder time mowing the lawn when they get older.
When you give a proper name to things, people tend to be more careful with the subject, especially nature. They tend to want to know more, to understand it better, and appreciate it more.
As a contributor and editor of the WordPress Codex, and an obsessive reader of articles on WordPress from around the world, I am constantly faced with the name games people play with the various parts and pieces of WordPress. A lot of serious WordPress Community fans are put off when they see WordPress with a lower case P and Plugins spelled as plug-ins (things that go into your wall not your blog). And there are some who will scream and shout if you refer to the WordPress Administration Panels as the admin panels or the dashboard.
At least it didn’t become AP and cause confusion with the grocery store chain or the API. Names tend to do that when they aren’t well thought out.
The capital-in-the-middle has been around for a long time on the web. CompuServe set the standard in the late eights and early nineties, and while people tried to MicroSoft them, Microsoft stayed lowercase.
Unfortunately, there is a lot of confusion over the various proper names, and much of the blame goes to the developers who picked bad names. They may be the best developers in the world, and sometimes names develop organically until they are as stuck with them as we are, but the names they had control over could have been chosen better.
If you meet me at a conference or event, ask me to the do the “WordPress Page Rant” – a favorite at blogging parties. While I was a part of it, I still hate that they decided to name the pseudo-static web pages generated by WordPress that exist outside of the chronological order as Pages with a capital P. WordPress volunteers in the WordPress Support Forums had to start explaining that these are web pages that are pages but pages with a P and not posts with a lower p but they are web pages. So when you are asking for help with page, are you asking for help with a post, a Page, or any web page on a WordPress blog? Or maybe a static HTML web page that you’ve linked to from within your WordPress blog? Which page/Page are you talking about? Even a couple years after the invention of the Page, we’re still battling with the pages versus Pages explanation.
I hate the use of the word “widget” to describe the add-ons to your blog through WordPress Plugins that aren’t quite Plugins but are. I thought it was hysterical when the WordPress Widgets blog was introduced, the tagline was “Lorelle calls them sidebar accessories.” I was hoping that WordPress Widgets would migrate towards total widgetization of WordPress blogs, so users could move all kinds of things around on their blog designs, but still these things are pretty much restricted to the sidebar, so sidebar accessories remains a good name, better than widgets which we used to use in economics.
Still, they are the names we have so let’s learn to use them properly so when people are searching for help on a WordPress issue, they will find the help they need because you’ve used the proper terms.
I spent over a year looking for a script or Plugin that would reach into my WordPress database of blog posts and generate a random “feature post” to one of my blogs. I couldn’t find a way to work it myself, so I thought someone out there must have wanted the same feature. Couldn’t find it.
During an unrelated search, I uncovered the Archivist WordPress Plugin which did what I wanted. Why didn’t I find it? Because the author, who doesn’t speak or write English very well, had not used the words Plugin, WordPress Plugin, feature post, random post, or any of the other terms I had used in my search. He just called it the Archivist and explained it in simple English without the words he needed to use to get his Plugin found.
You want to be found, you have to use the words people use to search for you. It’s that simple.
What names have you run across that aren’t being used properly? What do you think of those who don’t call things by their proper names? Have you found any new names for old things that have caught your eye and you think are worth embracing? Names for things evolve, so it will be interesting to see how the names change over the next ten years of blogging.
The author of Lorelle on WordPress and the fast-selling book, Blogging Tips: What Bloggers Won't Tell You About Blogging, as well as several other blogs, Lorelle VanFossen has been blogging for over 15 years, covering blogging, WordPress, travel, nature and travel photography, web design, web theory and development extensively as web technologies developed.
Sorry, but nobody cares about these things, with the exception of webloggers, er oops, bloggers. The users of nomenclature that does not meet the exact standards of a blogger are called the public. The biggest hurdle facing bloggers is expanding readership beyond the technorati, and into the general public.
I do not mind being corrected whenever I used the wrong terms, and likewise, I’d appreciate it if bloggers were more polite when told that WordPress has a capital P.
I once mentioned in a blogging forum that WordPress has a capital P, and guess what? There were bloggers who asked why I was so concerned about the capital P.
And what did you tell them? When I’m asked, I tell them that it is a trademark, but more importantly, using the word right is a sign of respect.
You know that little sick feeling you get when you find your name misspelled? Sure, it isn’t the end of the world, but it tells a lot about a person who takes the time to write about you and your blog, one that has your name all over it, including in the title, and they spell your name “Lorel” or “Laurelle” or something worse. Okay, that’s about me, but what if they called you polf or piff.
It sends a clear message that someone wasn’t paying attention to details, and that’s not a person I want to work with. It’s about respect and attention to details. That’s my answer. :D
You removed my comment because it was critical of your article?
Wow, you’re a “real” blogger, aren’t you?
Did I? That’s a good question. It could have been picked up by the editor as not being helpful to the conversation or appropriate. It could have been picked up by the comment spam filters. My user level permissions access on this blog is limited.
Either way, I’m sure it was constructive and helpful and encouraged the blog conversation in compliance with the Blog Herald comment policy, so if you would like to restate it accordingly, you are more than welcome.
It’s amusing when some refer to individual blog posts as “blogs”.
Personally, I don’t really get the whole “capital P in WordPress” business. Yes, I know it’s a trademark but it’s not as if someone spelt (spelled) it “WurdPress” or “wordprez”.
Strictly speaking, then, even URLs that mention “WordPress” should be capitalised, but most aren’t.
I expect it’s an issue that will never go away. :)
@ Andy Merrett:
WordPress, CompuServe, iMac, iPhone, CinemaScope, HarperCollins, PowerPoint, BellSouth, LaserJet, NeXT, CoComment, MySpace, YouTube, Patti LaBelle, VanDyke, Lorelle VanFossen, all of these middle capital letter words are often called CamelCase words. They’ve been around a long time and vary from words that were once two, like Van Fossen which we’ve pressed together in order to live within a computerized world that sorts us by Van or by Fossen and wasn’t able to accommodate names with spaces in the early years, to words that just added the capital in the middle for interest and fads. Or it comes from acronyms or name or word combinations squished together to form a single word.
It’s unfortunate that many judge the quality of a writer/blogger and their content by the correct or incorrect usage of the capital letter, as do those who write iphone instead of iPhone and so on. As I said, it goes a long way towards proof of expertise and reputation when a writer pays attention to the details.
URLs are a different issue as lowercase is a standard. For a long time, there was a difference between URLs and emails with capitalization. For example, cameraontheroad.com would work but CameraOnTheRoad.com would not. Now, they work just about any way the letters go, as long as they are spelled right.