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Acronyms Seriously Suck - Elon Musk

From time to time, Musk will send out an e-mail to the entire company to enforce a new policy or let them know about something that's bothering him. One of the more famous e-mails arrived in May 2010 with the subject line: 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.

@CubeSpawn
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CubeSpawn commented Jun 11, 2020

Good Advice!

I encourage you all to sign up immediately for an SPA membership!

John Metriean, ABR, CRE, RRC, QSE
Acting Ambassador
Society for the Prevention of Acronyms

@mvysny
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mvysny commented Jun 15, 2020

I worked at Orange in France. They used acronyms very heavily. It made the work incredibly difficult, and there were large numbers of acronyms that would take weeks to find someone who knew what they mean, and occasionally they were wrong.

@jasonknight Unfortunately it's not just Oracle, I think it's a telecom thing. Ericsson is the same in this regard.

@LeoClickWorks
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LeoClickWorks commented Jun 25, 2020

LGTM +1

Let's go totally mental?

Looks Good To Me πŸ‘πŸΌ

Let's Get Together monday

Leave Goats To Mingle

Let's Get This Moolah

Lack Girlfriend To Meet
Let's Go To Mars!

Let's Get This Merged!

Lets Get Ten More :)

Lonely Giraffe Tickled Me

Legendary Genius Transformative Methods

Let's Gamble, Try Merging

Lines Geared Towards Mischief

Let's Go To McDonald's

Large Gray Torqued Monkeys

@ozcanzaferayan
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ozcanzaferayan commented Jul 3, 2020

LGTM +1

Let's go totally mental?

Looks Good To Me πŸ‘πŸΌ

Let's Get Together monday

Leave Goats To Mingle

Let's Get This Moolah

Lack Girlfriend To Meet
Let's Go To Mars!

Let's Get This Merged!

Lets Get Ten More :)

Lonely Giraffe Tickled Me

Legendary Genius Transformative Methods

Let's Gamble, Try Merging

Lines Geared Towards Mischief

Let's Go To McDonald's

Large Gray Torqued Monkeys

Lazy Graphic Transformation Methods

@dbpieter
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dbpieter commented Sep 4, 2020

LGTM +1

Let's go totally mental?

Looks Good To Me πŸ‘πŸΌ

Let's Get Together monday

Leave Goats To Mingle

Let's Get This Moolah

Lack Girlfriend To Meet
Let's Go To Mars!

Let's Get This Merged!

Lets Get Ten More :)

Lonely Giraffe Tickled Me

Legendary Genius Transformative Methods

Let's Gamble, Try Merging

Lines Geared Towards Mischief

Let's Go To McDonald's

Large Gray Torqued Monkeys

Lazy Graphic Transformation Methods

Leave Garfield To Me !

@mevsme
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mevsme commented Sep 5, 2020

LGTM +1

Let's go totally mental?

Looks Good To Me πŸ‘πŸΌ

Let's Get Together monday

Leave Goats To Mingle

Let's Get This Moolah

Lack Girlfriend To Meet
Let's Go To Mars!

Let's Get This Merged!

Lets Get Ten More :)

Lonely Giraffe Tickled Me

Legendary Genius Transformative Methods

Let's Gamble, Try Merging

Lines Geared Towards Mischief

Let's Go To McDonald's

Large Gray Torqued Monkeys

Lazy Graphic Transformation Methods

Leave Garfield To Me !

Lines Golf Tripods Metaphysics

@carinajean
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carinajean commented Oct 11, 2020

LGTM +1

Let's go totally mental?

Looks Good To Me πŸ‘πŸΌ

Let's Get Together monday

Leave Goats To Mingle

Let's Get This Moolah

Lack Girlfriend To Meet
Let's Go To Mars!

Let's Get This Merged!

Lets Get Ten More :)

Lonely Giraffe Tickled Me

Legendary Genius Transformative Methods

Let's Gamble, Try Merging

Lines Geared Towards Mischief

Let's Go To McDonald's

Large Gray Torqued Monkeys

Lazy Graphic Transformation Methods

Leave Garfield To Me !

Lines Golf Tripods Metaphysics

Looks Good TIll Morning

@supernovashock
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supernovashock commented Oct 11, 2020

Right. I need to say I support absolutely what Elon is saying. But I need to break it down, and I'm afraid I need to take Mr. Musk to school.

First of all, Elon Musk says "acronyms" but he really means either "initialisms," such as his "HTS" example, i.e. an abbreviation created out of the initial letters of the words in a phrase, or possibly "abbreviations," which is an umbrella term for both initialisms and acronyms. An acronym is an abbreviation formed from the initial letters of other words and pronounced as a word. You know. Like NASA. This is kind of ironic coming from the SpaceX guy. He is wrong and all of you who call something like "HTML," "GPS," or whatever the hell "LTGM" means to you an acronym are also wrong. You shouldn't be able to graduate from high school without knowing this.

Now that I've made an earnest attempt to show my hand as an unrepentant grammar dictator, I'm gonna talk about his meaning rather than his (and everyone else's) handling of the words.

His point is valid and it's absolutely true that "Excessive use of made up acronyms is a significant impediment to communication." And even though the elephant in the room here is that literally all acronyms (and abbreviations, grrrrr) are made up, it's just simply a fact. Abbreviations burden the reader/listener with the chore of deciphering the meaning of words that could simply have been spelled out or fully verbalized. Let me repeat that. You are trying to communicate with someone else, and by the use of such obfuscatory terms, you're actually making it harder for the person to whom you're trying to get through to understand you.

To those of you defending the use of such abbreviations (you said "acronyms" in error, but I forgive you), I get your value of them. Sure. It's faster. But it's only faster for those who have already conquered the learning curve. What if you're introducing something new to an outsider and throw a barrage of ADTMYLCHORICYAs* at them? If you suspect they will either have their eyes glaze over in a complete lack of comprehension, or simply stay silent out of embarrassment, you're right.

Perhaps you like to use these terms as some kind of inside jargon. A code to confer a kind of secret insider knowledge that gives people a way to talk about an idea in shorthand. They increase the perceived importance of ideas, and at the same time they also help keep other ideas from entering the inner circle. If you're gonna be like that, fine, but good luck when you have to talk to anyone outside this inner circle. I think anyone in the military will back me up on this.

Or maybe you just like to use them for mischief. That's fine. But when your use of these FUBAR ADTMYLCHORICYAs* result in a SNAFU, you will have only yourself to blame.

Here's a real world example. I quoted a now classic hip-hop reference to a person who was under the age of 35 last week in the form of the Naughty By Nature song's eponymous chorus, "You down with OPP?" And all I got back was an utterly blank stare. Alas, she did NOT know me. That's what you're doing when you use silly ADTMYLCHORICYAs*.

So, really, everybody. Cut it out already. Use your words.

*Abbreviations Designed To Make You Look Cool However Only Result In Confusing Your Audience

@o6uoq
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o6uoq commented Oct 11, 2020

Right. I need to say I support absolutely what Elon is saying. But I need to break it down, and I'm afraid I need to take Mr. Musk to school.

You just ruined one of the greatest GitHub threads in history.

@scotthraban
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scotthraban commented Oct 12, 2020

A "stand" at our test site is obviously a test stand.

Is it obvious? Really? Unless you have insider knowledge, you wouldn't know this as a day 1 employee, so how is it any better than an acronym?

@mcblum
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mcblum commented Oct 13, 2020

Right. I need to say I support absolutely what Elon is saying. But I need to break it down, and I'm afraid I need to take Mr. Musk to school.

You just ruined one of the greatest GitHub threads in history.

πŸ˜‚πŸ˜‚πŸ˜‚ for real.

@MikeDoes
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MikeDoes commented Oct 16, 2020

initialisms

initialisms is a sub-class of acronyms so he is J-chilling

@KyleJGreen
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KyleJGreen commented Oct 30, 2020

I want to share this with everyone I work with. And on the argument against this position, I want to point out that it's not even possible to look up some acronyms with absolute certainty that you're looking at the right thing. I was filling out a self evaluation for work and ran into the term BAU configuration and I can't even figure out via a Google search what it means. While I'm sure there is someone here who has an idea, that's besides the point. For myself, and everyone else that doesn't know this acronym, it means going down an entire rabbit hole to discover the meaning behind something that someone could have just typed out, removing all of the ambiguity. And this isn't the only time this has happened to me. Most acronyms have about 20-50 different phrases mapped to them when you Google them. Sometimes context helps you. Sometimes it doesn't. This has gotten way out of control.

@joao-esteves
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joao-esteves commented Nov 23, 2020

ha ha X Γ† A-12 goes brr

@refractor07
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refractor07 commented Dec 6, 2020

Sometimes a simple instruction by someone like Elon makes people go wild.

@raphasramos
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raphasramos commented Jan 8, 2021

LGTM +1

Let's go totally mental?

Looks Good To Me πŸ‘πŸΌ

Let's Get Together monday

Leave Goats To Mingle

Let's Get This Moolah

Lack Girlfriend To Meet
Let's Go To Mars!

Let's Get This Merged!

Lets Get Ten More :)

Lonely Giraffe Tickled Me

Legendary Genius Transformative Methods

Let's Gamble, Try Merging

Lines Geared Towards Mischief

Let's Go To McDonald's

Large Gray Torqued Monkeys

Lazy Graphic Transformation Methods

Leave Garfield To Me !

Lines Golf Tripods Metaphysics

Looks Good TIll Morning

Looks Garbage To Me

@SachinGurarikar
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SachinGurarikar commented Jan 21, 2021

To me it seems that He really value it's resources (time the most). He worked somewhere 100+ hrs a week, took risks and bla bla to achieve or travel the way which is really challenging. So, he is suggesting solution to problem of wasting time (when he is studying or reading, there could be way more acronyms and other time consuming stuff). So, I guess he is suggesting good.

@clemlesne
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clemlesne commented Mar 20, 2021

LGTM +1

Let's go totally mental?

Looks Good To Me πŸ‘πŸΌ

Let's Get Together monday

Leave Goats To Mingle

Let's Get This Moolah

Lack Girlfriend To Meet
Let's Go To Mars!

Let's Get This Merged!

Lets Get Ten More :)

Lonely Giraffe Tickled Me

Legendary Genius Transformative Methods

Let's Gamble, Try Merging

Lines Geared Towards Mischief

Let's Go To McDonald's

Large Gray Torqued Monkeys

Lazy Graphic Transformation Methods

Leave Garfield To Me !

Lines Golf Tripods Metaphysics

Looks Good TIll Morning

Looks Garbage To Me

Let's Golf Together in Mars

@moguzozcan
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moguzozcan commented Apr 29, 2021

My exact feelings when I start my career on an abbreviation heaven company years ago.

@YNathan
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YNathan commented Jun 17, 2021

LGTM +1

Let's go totally mental?

Looks Good To Me πŸ‘πŸΌ

Let's Get Together monday

Leave Goats To Mingle

Let's Get This Moolah

Lack Girlfriend To Meet
Let's Go To Mars!

Let's Get This Merged!

Lets Get Ten More :)

Lonely Giraffe Tickled Me

Legendary Genius Transformative Methods

Let's Gamble, Try Merging

Lines Geared Towards Mischief

Let's Go To McDonald's

Large Gray Torqued Monkeys

Lazy Graphic Transformation Methods

Leave Garfield To Me !

Lines Golf Tripods Metaphysics

Looks Good TIll Morning

Looks Garbage To Me

Let's Golf Together in Mars

Lets Go To Mama

@mainwaring
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mainwaring commented Jun 19, 2021

LGTM Large Genital's To Masturbate

@aharonh
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aharonh commented Jun 21, 2021

LGTM +1

Let's go totally mental?

Looks Good To Me πŸ‘πŸΌ

Let's Get Together monday

Leave Goats To Mingle

Let's Get This Moolah

Lack Girlfriend To Meet
Let's Go To Mars!

Let's Get This Merged!

Lets Get Ten More :)

Lonely Giraffe Tickled Me

Legendary Genius Transformative Methods

Let's Gamble, Try Merging

Lines Geared Towards Mischief

Let's Go To McDonald's

Large Gray Torqued Monkeys

Lazy Graphic Transformation Methods

Leave Garfield To Me !

Lines Golf Tripods Metaphysics

Looks Good TIll Morning

Looks Garbage To Me

Let's Golf Together in Mars

Lets Go To Mama

List Got Too Massive

@PixnBits
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PixnBits commented Jul 7, 2021

Meanwhile: https://github.com/nasa/NASA-Acronyms#readme

This expands over 25,000 NASA acronyms.

This is not a dig on NASA, just a nuance-free (i.e. kinda useless) comparison of results/proliferation.

@codein2mins
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codein2mins commented Sep 10, 2021

LGTM +1

Let's go totally mental?

Looks Good To Me πŸ‘πŸΌ

Let's Get Together monday

Leave Goats To Mingle

Let's Get This Moolah

Lack Girlfriend To Meet
Let's Go To Mars!

Let's Get This Merged!

Lets Get Ten More :)

Lonely Giraffe Tickled Me

Legendary Genius Transformative Methods

Let's Gamble, Try Merging

Lines Geared Towards Mischief

Let's Go To McDonald's

Large Gray Torqued Monkeys

Lazy Graphic Transformation Methods

Leave Garfield To Me !

Lines Golf Tripods Metaphysics

Looks Good TIll Morning

Looks Garbage To Me

Let's Golf Together in Mars

Lets Go To Mama

List Got Too Massive

Lets GO TO MOON

@porterchild
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porterchild commented Sep 23, 2021

LGTM +1

Let's go totally mental?

Looks Good To Me πŸ‘πŸΌ

Let's Get Together monday

Leave Goats To Mingle

Let's Get This Moolah

Lack Girlfriend To Meet
Let's Go To Mars!

Let's Get This Merged!

Lets Get Ten More :)

Lonely Giraffe Tickled Me

Legendary Genius Transformative Methods

Let's Gamble, Try Merging

Lines Geared Towards Mischief

Let's Go To McDonald's

Large Gray Torqued Monkeys

Lazy Graphic Transformation Methods

Leave Garfield To Me !

Lines Golf Tripods Metaphysics

Looks Good TIll Morning

Looks Garbage To Me

Let's Golf Together in Mars

Lets Go To Mama

List Got Too Massive

Lets GO TO MOON

Linguistic Generalizations Thoughtlessly Misrepresent

@porterchild
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porterchild commented Sep 23, 2021

LGTM Going Too Meta

Beautiful. Let me add that to the chain for you, @andyfeller

@porterchild
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porterchild commented Sep 23, 2021

LGTM +1

Let's go totally mental?

Looks Good To Me πŸ‘πŸΌ

Let's Get Together monday

Leave Goats To Mingle

Let's Get This Moolah

Lack Girlfriend To Meet
Let's Go To Mars!

Let's Get This Merged!

Lets Get Ten More :)

Lonely Giraffe Tickled Me

Legendary Genius Transformative Methods

Let's Gamble, Try Merging

Lines Geared Towards Mischief

Let's Go To McDonald's

Large Gray Torqued Monkeys

Lazy Graphic Transformation Methods

Leave Garfield To Me !

Lines Golf Tripods Metaphysics

Looks Good TIll Morning

Looks Garbage To Me

Let's Golf Together in Mars

Lets Go To Mama

List Got Too Massive

Lets GO TO MOON

Linguistic Generalizations Thoughtlessly Misrepresent

LGTM Going Too Meta

@cdiamon
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cdiamon commented Oct 7, 2021

LGTM +1

Let's go totally mental?

Looks Good To Me πŸ‘πŸΌ

Let's Get Together monday

Leave Goats To Mingle

Let's Get This Moolah

Lack Girlfriend To Meet
Let's Go To Mars!

Let's Get This Merged!

Lets Get Ten More :)

Lonely Giraffe Tickled Me

Legendary Genius Transformative Methods

Let's Gamble, Try Merging

Lines Geared Towards Mischief

Let's Go To McDonald's

Large Gray Torqued Monkeys

Lazy Graphic Transformation Methods

Leave Garfield To Me !

Lines Golf Tripods Metaphysics

Looks Good TIll Morning

Looks Garbage To Me

Let's Golf Together in Mars

Lets Go To Mama

List Got Too Massive

Lets GO TO MOON

Linguistic Generalizations Thoughtlessly Misrepresent

LGTM Going Too Meta

Lexicographically Governmentalized Traditionalistic Misinterpretations

@Mexolius
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Mexolius commented Oct 25, 2021

LGTM +1

Let's go totally mental?

Looks Good To Me πŸ‘πŸΌ

Let's Get Together monday

Leave Goats To Mingle

Let's Get This Moolah

Lack Girlfriend To Meet
Let's Go To Mars!

Let's Get This Merged!

Lets Get Ten More :)

Lonely Giraffe Tickled Me

Legendary Genius Transformative Methods

Let's Gamble, Try Merging

Lines Geared Towards Mischief

Let's Go To McDonald's

Large Gray Torqued Monkeys

Lazy Graphic Transformation Methods

Leave Garfield To Me !

Lines Golf Tripods Metaphysics

Looks Good TIll Morning

Looks Garbage To Me

Let's Golf Together in Mars

Lets Go To Mama

List Got Too Massive

Lets GO TO MOON

Linguistic Generalizations Thoughtlessly Misrepresent

LGTM Going Too Meta

Lexicographically Governmentalized Traditionalistic Misinterpretations

LGTM Generated Tremendous Muddle

@supernovashock
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supernovashock commented Oct 26, 2021

@lp2485
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lp2485 commented Jul 14, 2022

LGTM +1

Let's go totally mental?

Looks Good To Me πŸ‘πŸΌ

Let's Get Together monday

Leave Goats To Mingle

Let's Get This Moolah

Lack Girlfriend To Meet
Let's Go To Mars!

Let's Get This Merged!

Lets Get Ten More :)

Lonely Giraffe Tickled Me

Legendary Genius Transformative Methods

Let's Gamble, Try Merging

Lines Geared Towards Mischief

Let's Go To McDonald's

Large Gray Torqued Monkeys

Lazy Graphic Transformation Methods

Leave Garfield To Me !

Lines Golf Tripods Metaphysics

Looks Good TIll Morning

Looks Garbage To Me

Let's Golf Together in Mars

Lets Go To Mama

List Got Too Massive

Lets GO TO MOON

Linguistic Generalizations Thoughtlessly Misrepresent

LGTM Going Too Meta

Lexicographically Governmentalized Traditionalistic Misinterpretations

LGTM Generated Tremendous Muddle

Let's Get That Money

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