Unique vs Shared keywords

Hide verses Archive

Ed Kohler recently posted an article entitled Archive vs Hide on Gmail and Google Docs. In this article he talks about the different keywords Google uses to describe essentially the same functionality. This is an issue that is not unique to Google. I’ve seen the same problem across teams where I work as well as within my own work. Another similar problem I see all the time is when the same keyword is used by two different products to refer to different things. This is something that runs rampant where I work and so I’d like to provide a few tips to help avoid these problems.

  1. Publicized Usage – Whether kept internal to the company or not, nothing can help reduce multiple keywords and multiple keyword definitions than letting other teams know what keywords you’ve used and for what.
  2. Regular Collaboration – Preventing the problem is better than dealing with the aftermath, but the only way to find out if the problem exists and to come up with strategies for resolving the problem is collaborating with the other teams.
  3. Publicized Standards – if standards exist the chance for collision of keywords is greatly reduced.
  4. Namespaces – Prefixing a word keyword used on a particular project especially in the case of ID’s helps people identify exactly what that keyword is when seen outside of the project.

If you have any other thoughts or suggestions please let me know!

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