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Prompt engineering is a dumb term

As a senior web developer, I often come across the term "prompt engineering" when using generative AI tools. To be honest, I find this term quite ridiculous. Here’s why.

Communication is Key

In any field, clear and effective communication is essential. Whether you’re writing a Jira ticket, drafting an email, or giving instructions, the clarity of your message directly impacts the outcome. This isn’t a new concept, and it certainly isn’t unique to interacting with AI.

The Basics of Clear Instructions

When I leave a Jira ticket with vague instructions, my colleagues struggle to understand the task. The result? Confusion, frustration, and wasted time. Does this make me a “Jira engineer” if I write detailed and clear tickets? Absolutely not. It just means I’m a competent communicator.

AI is No Different

Using generative AI is similar. If you want good results, you need to provide clear and detailed prompts. This isn’t some mystical new skill set; it’s just effective communication. When interacting with AI, being specific helps, just as it does in any other form of communication. Plus, getting "better" results from AI is highly relative and depends on what you’re trying to achieve. There's no universally "good" or "better" result; it’s all about meeting specific goals.

Iteration is Natural

Even with a well-crafted prompt, iteration is often necessary. This iterative process is natural in creative and technical work alike. Just as we refine our code or adjust project requirements, we tweak AI prompts to get the desired outcome. It’s not about being a “prompt engineer”; it’s about using the tools effectively through good communication. People naturally need time to get used to AI tools. No one uses them perfectly on the first try, and that's okay. As users become more familiar with AI, they will naturally learn to provide the right level of detail to achieve their desired outcomes.

Skill Elevation and Real Tools

The term "prompt engineer" seems to be a way for people to elevate their skills above others without really doing anything better with the tools provided. Unlike Photoshop, which requires pure skill and mastery, generative AI relies solely on the input and output of your own words. It's about crafting effective communication, not mastering a complex tool.

Misleading Use of "Engineer"

The word "engineer" implies a level of technical training and expertise that isn't necessary for creating effective AI prompts. It suggests that prompt crafting is a specialized technical skill, which in reality, it is not. This misrepresentation can be misleading and inflate the perceived difficulty of using AI tools effectively. If we start calling everyone who optimizes their interactions "engineers," we dilute the meaning of the term.

Do We Even Need a Term?

Maybe the best approach is not to invent a new term at all. Clear communication should be a given, whether you’re interacting with humans or AI. Let’s not complicate things by creating unnecessary jargon. Instead, let’s focus on improving our overall communication skills. This way, effective prompting becomes a natural part of how we interact with technology, just like writing a clear email or giving detailed instructions.


In the end, the ability to communicate clearly and effectively is what makes the difference, whether you’re dealing with AI, writing documentation, or managing projects. So, instead of searching for a new term to replace “prompt engineering,” let’s focus on honing our communication skills, which are truly at the heart of successful interactions, both with humans and AI.

What Do You Think?

I'd love to hear your thoughts on this. Do you think "prompt engineering" is a useful term, or do you agree that it's just another buzzword? Share your opinions and experiences in the comments!

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