Proper netiquette means leaving out "meh" and "wat"

Written by Niels on

Fortunately, I'm not the kind of person that is easily offended and neither do I consider myself a total saint when it comes to comments and commit messages. Often, when I work on big refactors I tend to micro-commit very descriptive variations on "oops", "fix" or "AAARGHHH". However, I usually do that in private branches which are squash-merged into something a bit more documented at the end of the day.

But more and more nowadays, I see one-worded responses in bug reports like "meh" or "wat". Now don't get me mistaken, I'm perfectly aware that for many (especially Americans), this is acceptable slang, but for me, it really isn't. Simply put, we're all working together in a globally connected community but that doesn't equate to a single cultural environment where every reference means the same thing.

In the case of "meh" and "wat", my list of possible interpretations are a mix of these:

  • I don't care what you do or what you did.
  • I don't know what to write or don't have time.
  • I'm giving feedback for the sake of giving feedback.
  • I'm bored, give me popcorn and a movie.

Regardless of what the author meant to convey, the fact that it can possibly cause a feeling of disrespect or annoyance for your recipient, should be reason enough to never use them. In fact, whenever I see one-worded lines like those, I wished the person hadn't commented at all in the first place as he or she now negatively impacted the positive impression I had a moment before.

But on top of possibly unintended disrespect, the respective meanings of urban slang like this are often so vague that it requires me and others to follow up and ask what was meant in the first place. This is a obvious waste of your and my time and therefore a good second reason to always refrain from ever using this. The same goes for American pop-culture references, weird memes and quotes from Netflix/TV series we never grew up with. Chances simply are that your Australian, Indian or European recipient has no idea what you are saying and might end up annoyed or feeling slightly stupid for not knowing.

So dear internet, please consider that whoever eyeballs your comment, probably isn't the neighbor next door...