Replacing violent IT vocabulary for fun and profit

IT has a lot of unnecessary, violent, vocabulary. This is bad for multiple reasons:

  1. It is easy to use and say, but hurtful to people who actually experienced violence
  2. It often hides the inability to better express, the statement always looses precision over a plain description. Sometimes, it hides insecurity about your own achievement.
  3. Often, the language is used for effect only, by trying to be funny. This effect is overrated and a precise, on-point description often has better effect. Hurtful language gives a lot of bang in the short-term, but has no longevity.
  4. It often describes something positive through a negative and subsequently, downplays the positive and moves the negative towards being something positive.
  5. Many of the terms are factually wrong.

This is similar to many problems related with ableism in talks, which were layed out here for RustFest.

It helps to train yourself to avoid such language alltogether. The replacements are more worth the effort of learning, sharpen the message and are simple to use. Full avoidance reduces the cognitive burden of having to decide for or against language in any given situation.


Common usage

Very often, “abuse” is used for advanced usage of a system that is out of the mainstream. It is also commonly used as a way to describe disagreement with a certain use pattern.


When speaking about positive achievements, or your decisions, say it! It’s your achievement! In these cases, save 2 characters, and use “use”. If you feel like there’s suddenly something missing, answer the question “what exactly?” or “what for?”.

If you want to describe an error in usage, just use “misuse”.

No Postgres servers were hurt in the process, just a lot of developers were very unhappy. If you feel like this statement lost a lot of “wham”, it’s because in some cases Postgres can perfectly well work as a queue ;). Make a case for the misuse.


“Abuse” always has negative connotations as a word. It either describes direct violent behaviour or unacceptable behaviour in a position of power. None of that applies to the above. Also, usage of “abuse” gives rise to accidental slips into unwanted territory, for example the modifier “helpless” above clearly moves towards inter-personal abuse of any kind.

Almost all uses of “abuse” in tech are misuses.


“Abuse of service” is a regular problem for any kind of service-providers with technological solutions and should be discussed as such.