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Joel on Software

Secret language

by Joel Spolsky
Wednesday, December 30, 2009

Microsoft Careers: “If you’re looking for a new role where you’ll focus on one of the biggest issues that is top of mind for KT and Steve B in ‘Compete’, build a complete left to right understanding of the subsidiary, have a large amount of executive exposure, build and manage the activities of a v-team of 13 district Linux& Open Office Compete Leads, and develop a broad set of marketing skills and report to a management team committed to development and recognized for high WHI this is the position for you!”

This is ironic, to use the Alanis Morissette meaning of the word [NSFW video].

The whole reason Microsoft even needs a v-team of 13, um, “V DASHES” to compete against Open Office is that they’ve become so insular that their job postings are full of incomprehensible jargon and acronyms which nobody outside the company can understand. With 93,000 employees, nobody ever talks to anyone outside the company, so it's no surprise they've become a bizarre borg of "KT", "Steve B", "v-team", "high WHI," CSI, GM, BG, BMO (bowel movements?) and whatnot.

When I worked at Microsoft almost two decades ago we made fun of IBM for having a different word for everything. Everybody said, "Hard Drive," IBM said "Fixed Disk." Everybody said, "PC," IBM said "Workstation." IBM must have had whole departments of people just to FACT CHECK the pages in their manuals which said, "This page intentionally left blank."

Now when you talk to anyone who has been at Microsoft for more than a week you can’t understand a word they’re saying. Which is OK, you can never understand geeks. But at Microsoft you can’t even understand the marketing people, and, what’s worse, they don’t seem to know that they’re speaking in their own special language, understood only to them.


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