Better Word than User?

One of my favourite blog authors (and podcasters), Jon Udell, raised the possibility of finding a better word than ‘user’, particularly in the context of ‘user-generated content’. Jon in turn refers to a blog entry from Jimmy Guterman of O-Reilly Radar who was more emphatic, ‘Don’t Call Me a User‘, with the oft-quoted ‘there are only two industries that refer to their customers as users: high tech and illegal drugs’.

Jimmy invited his readers to suggest alternatives and at the time of writing had received 47 replies. A collection of the more serious suggestions as they arrived is:

Customer

Actor

Member

Publisher

Viewer

Photographer

Investor

Student

Consumer

Lurker

Community member

Participant

Co-creator

Author

Artist

Critic

Creator

Reviewer

Organiser

Editor

Contributor

User 2.0

Reader

Person

Visitor

Patron

Individual

Client

Typer

     

Most surprising of all was a strong consensus to retain the word ‘user’! Apparently librarians prefer ‘patron’.

Jon proposes the term ‘webjay’ which is new to me. What do you think?

Published with Word 2007.

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About Michael Rees
Academic in IT interested in Web 2.0 and social media

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