Dirty words, take II

Readers offer up a collection of terms sure to offend technologists everywhere

My column "IT's Seven Dirty Words" -- a subjective list of terms that shouldn't be repeated in polite IT company -- generated piles of e-mail from readers who were quick to add a few choice words of their own. In the interest of sharing, let me reproduce a few of their suggestions.

Bob Dust leads off with "ROI," which he calls "the closest thing to just plain ol' lying because it is the mechanism that is used to falsely justify purchases of just about anything IT. If I could really achieve the ROIs that are promised, I would shut down the business and just buy technology all day long."

Steve Sherlock asks, "How could you leave off 'outsource'? … The word is loaded." Good question.

Greg Gazin's candidates fit more neatly into the category of pet peeve than curse, but I too get the heebie-jeebies when terms like "standard," "compatible," and "user-friendly" get overused. Gazin's other nominee: "Enterprise. When I hear that one, I think of Star Trek." Aye-aye, Captain.

Ron Frazier offers up "user," a term he describes as "commonly used by drug dealers and IT personnel to describe their customers. Generally said with a sneer, befitting the clueless nature of said customers. Belief is that if the 'users' had any brains, they would be in IT like all of the really intelligent people. Customer satisfaction is unimportant, because the 'users' have no option but to come to you. If you meet their needs, fine. If not, oh, well. The only 'users' whose needs must be met are those in upper management."

Shreyas Shah favors the phrase "vendor lock-in," referring to proprietary solutions that are "standards-based [but] do not operate with others, … as in EMC products, which do not interoperate with HDS, though both have Fibre Channel interfaces." In those cases, the "vendor mints money." He also adds the colorful "God box," which he defines as "one box trying to implement too many functionalities."

Wafik Farag jumps in with "static," noting that people "frown at you" if you apply that term to a relational database.

William R. Vitanyi Jr. trots out the pejorative term " 'expert,' said in a tone that implies the quotation marks, [which] refers to a nontechnical person in charge of making critical decisions about technology."

Want to know three words that, according to Mark Gregory, "strike fear deep in the heart of IT and development teams worldwide"? "Out of Spec, as in the stuff that keeps getting added and was not part of the original project blueprint," Gregory says. "Most often the result of clients or managers not paying attention during or giving serious consideration to the entire planning process. Usually requires several times the work that would have been needed had the Out of Spec items been included in the original project blueprint, and often conflicts with recently accomplished items in the original project blueprint." Gregory adds that "instigators of Out of Spec work will usually not understand that they need to be responsible for the chaos and exponentially increased workload they have created. Out of Spec work will sometimes take a project that was well on its way to being an innovative, highly effective solution and turn it into something with little focus that may even be downright silly."

And John Singer keeps it short and sweet: " 'Interim' (it never is)." Clearly someone's speaking from experience.