re: What does FOUC stand for? VIEW POST


I feel that acronyms often have a tendency to hurt communication instead of helping. If it is not widely used, why create or perpetuate the use of acronym? I have seen cases where acronyms are the same or more syllables than the original phrase, why??

An acronym here and there might seem fine if it helps simplify communication (no one wants to say "HyperText Markup Language" all the time), but in workplaces it tends to build up over the years with company-specific lingo. Bringing in new developers on a project becomes that much more difficult because of all the terms they need to ask about or be ignorant to if they stay quiet about it. Acronyms do not only permeate spoken language, but they end up in the codebase. Not only does the new person have difficult challenges in meetings when these are used, but also when they are developing.

PBTAYAU (please be thoughtful about your acronym usage).


Reminds me of this memo Elon Musk sent out:

Acronyms Seriously Suck

There is a creeping tendency to use made up acronyms at SpaceX. Excessive use of made up acronyms is a significant impediment to communication and keeping communication good as we grow is incredibly important. Individually, a few acronyms here and there may not seem so bad, but if a thousand people are making these up, over time the result will be a huge glossary that we have to issue to new employees. No one can actually remember all these acronyms and people don't want to seem dumb in a meeting, so they just sit there in ignorance. This is particularly tough on new employees.

That needs to stop immediately or I will take drastic action - I have given enough warning over the years. Unless an acronym is approved by me, it should not enter the SpaceX glossary. If there is an existing acronym that cannot reasonably be justified, it should be eliminated, as I have requested in the past.

For example, there should be not "HTS" [horizontal test stand] or "VTS" [vertical test stand] designations for test stands. Those are particularly dumb, as they contain unnecessary words. A "stand" at our test site is obviously a test stand. VTS-3 is four syllables compared with "Tripod", which is two, so the bloody acronym version actually takes longer to say than the name!

The key test for an acronym is to ask whether it helps or hurts communication. An acronym that most engineers outside of SpaceX already know, such as GUI, is fine to use. It is also ok to make up a few acronyms/contractions every now and again, assuming I have approved them, e.g. MVac and M9 instead of Merlin 1C-Vacuum or Merlin 1C-Sea Level, but those need to be kept to a minimum.

That is awesome, I love his hidden joke in the subject line. 😂 I wouldn't expect Elon to get caught up in things like this, but it is good to know that big tech entrepreneurs encounter similar problems.

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