The Buzzword Blacklist

Here’s a small (and growing) list of meaningless, negative words that I’d like to strike from my world.

  • User
  • Consumer
  • Content
  • Sticky
  • Leverage
  • Synergy
  • Facilitate

Doc Searles has a nice follow-up on these terms and language in Relating to Customers

…customers don’t like being “consumers” or “targets.” Being “reduced” doesn’t stir their hearts, either. Least of all do they wish to be “acquired.”

Doc, as always, gets right to the point with:

“…we’re living in a world where customers will only become more and more independent and self-reliant. And — even more importantly — that they can often supply themselves.”

A second Buzzword blacklist from Fortune magazine
Ask Annie – Business Buzzword That Make You Gag

9 thoughts on “The Buzzword Blacklist

  1. So, what’s the alternative for “user” or “Consumer”, especially if you strike them both from your list?

    And why is either of those words negative, man? You telling me you don’t like “users” or “consumers” or “content”? Can’t we all (us users and consumers) just get along? What negative connotations do they carry to the average web worker?

    And, how will their replacements help me work better, since most people i work with know what I mean when I say user, consumer or content.

  2. “Customer”, “Client”, “People”, and “Upper Midwestern Cereal Eaters Making More Than 50k Annually”.
    These terms describe a group of individuals with power, control, and decision making ability. In comparion “user” and “consumer” are synonyms for “wallet”.

    “Content” on the other hand is container-centric and too frequently describes amorphous, less than useful copy and imagery. By talking about the copy, the audio, the images specifically, there’s a greater chance it’ll be valuable to the customer.

  3. Only computer people and drug dealers refere to their customers as “users”.
    I had a long discussion with an electronics manufacturer about “consumer”. They wanted to group TV, Audio, Refrigerators, Microwaves etc. under “Consumer Goods”. It took me a good deal of time to explain, that I might consume cereals and fruits but not TVs, thus would not be able to find their offerings. At last they got the idea.

  4. I have personally been waging a campaign against synergy for many years now. Thank you for becoming a part of my crusade. Your membership card is in the mail.

  5. Good Day,

    The thing about Doc at times is that he doesn’t make sense. Re-read this:

    “…customers don’t like being “consumers” or “targets.” Being “reduced” doesn’t stir their hearts, either. Least of all do they wish to be “acquired.”

    How can one possibly be wont of ‘un-acquiredness’ and yet be termed a ‘customer’? Correct is he when he asserts the desire of un-tamingness on behalf of Consumers. But that’s that! A consumer today wants the choicest of attention, best of services & products minus the strings of loyalty and obligations attached. And begets it.

    He then shall swerve at the slightest discontent and shall expend heartily if content. Therefore today’s consumer is a pernenial consumer and not a customer. A customer is ‘acquired’ and that’s a contradiction by itself in Doc’s words.

    Strike ‘customer’ from the trite-list if you may. But Consumer is the word of today and the future. Customer-holding days are bygone.

    If you concur, you are most welcome to Consumercy. Else, all the more.

    Be well. Think contrary.


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