14 October 2016

A noun for users who write in only uppercase letters

Recently, while administrating some user-generated content I had to twent some aggression at yet another user who had input their event details in all uppercase letters. It's ugly and inaccessible so as a responsible site owner I'm obligated to correct the casing which is an unnecessary waste of my time. You're wasting my time!

My Tweet got 1 Like and 2 replies which makes it my most popular Tweet that wasn't an angry rant about our broken democratic voting system so it obviously warrants this follow-up blog post.  (BTW, the #GIGO hashtag stands for the Garbage in, garbage out principle in computing.)

My friend and former colleague Xavi responded in private with this:

In Spanish they are called HOYGAN, which a misspelling of the Spanish word for "LISTEN!" http://www.urbandictionary.com/define.php?term=HOYGAN

Which I very much enjoyed. I then got curious and searched for other people's interpretations only to find this question on the User Experience Stack Exchange: Why do some users complete forms all in capital letters? Like any speculative question on a Stack Exchange platform there are numerous seemingly valid answers but one that was brand new to me and I thought worth sharing was the usability test findings that some users carry a mental legacy from paper forms:

I've seen this occasionally in usability tests. When I ask it's usually because they have filled in many paper forms where there is a request to 'fill out in block capitals' or similar — so they think that is the default for all forms.

This was a pquooorrr... M i n d  B l o w n!  Moment. The exact kind of moment that usability testing provides time and time again, consistently proving it's value. And again -- as is often the case with usability discoveries -- other evidence instantly started to make sense in this new context of understanding. Like why these same HOYGANs manage to use proper casing when they write in the textfields but all uppercase in the input boxes.

Now this particular site doesn't have a budget for usability testing so I was resorting to imagining all sorts of feedback messages that I could implement to try and tackle the problem. JavaScript that detects all-uppercase input and asks the user "Are you sure you want to look like a moron?" or passive-aggressively informs the user their content will be demoted unless proper grammar is used. But now I have read that answer I sympathise somewhat and am pretty confident that I can just provide a soft helpful suggestion along the lines of "You don't have to use capital letters, you can write normally".

So although the angry kid in me still imagines these users are tedious trolls trying to be clever and make their listing unfairly stand-out in front of the other users's posts, the pool of users who I will class as HOYGANs is much smaller now and reserved only for those who do it in the textfields as well as the input boxes.