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tmekelburg1
Contributor II

Another term for User when referring to...Users?

"There are only two industries that call their customers ‘users’: illegal drugs and software.” Edward Tufte

 

“There are only two industries that refer to their customers as ‘users’, one is of course IT, the other is the illegal drugs trade…” — Edward Tufte

 

Full disclosure, I did not fact check the accuracy of illegal drugs and software (IT) as the only two industries who call their staff \ customers 'Users'.

 

I am, however, trying to get rid of 'User' from our policies and standards documents. So far using staff or employees has worked out well. Then I came across the phrase 'user level passwords' in our AUP and thought staff level passwords didn't sound right.

 

While, I do welcome suggestions for this fix, the main point of the post is to get the Community's thoughts on improving the language used in IT/Security that may not age well as time goes on. I had heard of this quote before and didn't think much about it until one of our Counselors, who specializes in addiction, mentioned this as well. They weren't offended necessarily but it did spark up a good conversation on the matter.     

13 Replies
denbesten
Community Champion

Re: Another term for User when referring to...Users?

Perhaps "account holders" would work in policies.

 

The problem with trying to come up with a more precise term is that that it tends to result in exclusions for populations you did not consider, such as "contractors", "interns", "volunteers", etc.  And, the more you enumerate, omissions seem increasingly intentional.

 

 

tmekelburg1
Contributor II

Re: Another term for User when referring to...Users?

That's true, Users are the larger group. Anything referenced within that group would exclude certain types of users. Maybe we need another word that's equitable to User? Idk what that would be. I'm also pretty sure it's not really a problem for most people. It weirdly sticks out to me everytime someone says it though.

We could take Account Holders and break that into Admin account holder and Basic account holder. You may be onto something there. I'll need some more time to chew on it.
alekos
Newcomer II

Re: Another term for User when referring to...Users?

You can use multiple different terms in place of “user” but I think “user” tends to be the most appropriate one. Consumer could have been an appropriate term if it wasn’t already taken.
I was recently writing a report and I used “team members” instead of users. The thing is, when you run into the “user level passwords” dilemma nothing seems to fit better than “user”.
jmikesmith
Newcomer III

Re: Another term for User when referring to...Users?

How about "workers"? Define it to include managers/executives, but not administrators. Then you have worker-level passwords and administrator-level passwords.

 

Or, you could have regular workers, privileged workers, and management workers or executive workers.

 

Mike

tmekelburg1
Contributor II

Re: Another term for User when referring to...Users?

Microsoft's Synonyms for Users: Operators, Workers, Employers, Manipulators, Handlers

 

Any votes for 'Manipulators'? LOL

 

@jmikesmith Yeah, I think whatever we decide to standardize on we'll need to first define what we mean. It's hard to find a word with the same strength and as well known as 'User'. I like 'Operator' as well. We used that in the Military when referencing anything that could be completed or conducted at the owner / user level.

ericgeater
Community Champion

Re: Another term for User when referring to...Users?

Someone else said "account holder", and I concur that's a good choice.  I would modify that and create a compound word: accountholder

 

Why the compound word?  Indexing.  Depending on how indexes are created and searches are parsed, when you need a granular, or pinpoint-specific result, doing searches for accountholder will yield better results than either account or holder.

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I've always said, "There's nothing an agnostic can't do if he really doesn't know whether he believes in anything or not."
ericgeater
Community Champion

Re: Another term for User when referring to...Users?

How about "workers"?

 

If you counted my coworker at my previous employment, there may be some disagreement on the usefulness of that term.

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I've always said, "There's nothing an agnostic can't do if he really doesn't know whether he believes in anything or not."
Beads
Advocate I

Re: Another term for User when referring to...Users?

Census as in company census or members comes to mind. I also say end users not the derogatory "users" as in the drug connotation. Sounds overly sensitive but that would be true of most things today.

 

- b/eads

ericgeater
Community Champion

Re: Another term for User when referring to...Users?

whatever we decide to standardize on we'll need to first define what we mean.

 

I once asked this forum about a word.  The definition is "a device in current use, which may be subject to near-term or EOL replacement", and the best term I could find is extant.  The word itself is used by zoologists, typically to describe the status of a threatened species.  There are other uses, but it seems an appropriate term for a specific stage in a device's lifecycle.

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I've always said, "There's nothing an agnostic can't do if he really doesn't know whether he believes in anything or not."