I suggest bloggers kill the word kill in subject lines

I’ve long complained of the way in which those who write and report about technology companies use the term “kill” and “-killer” to mean something other than what the rest of the world means when it uses the words “kill” or “-killer.” For example, in this Silicon Alley Insider piece, Henry Blodget re-tweets* an analyst report that predicts the traffic on Facebook will surpass Google “in terms of total worldwide uniques, by late-2011 or early-2012.”

What is the title of the post? FACEBOOK COULD KILL GOOGLE. And it’s in ALL CAPs.

So how exactly is Facebook going to KILL Google? Facebook, according to the analyst, will at some point win a competition between the number of unique visitors to Google.com vs. Facebook.com.

Huh? Getting more unique visitors is what KILL means?

But what about revenues generated per unique visitor? Is Facebook going to kill Google in that department?

And what about all those places where Google MAKES MONEY that are not counted as a “unique” visit to Google.com, itself? For example, the Google Adsense program places ads on tens of millions of non-Google pages all over the web. Is Facebook going to KILL those revenue-generating pages?

And what about the Google-owned web properties Blogger.com and YouTube.com that together generate around 80 million “uniques” each day? Is Facebook going to KILL the combined “uniques” of Google.com, YouTube.com and Facebook.com? Obviously, the answer is no.

In the world of Tech writing, the word “kill” seems to refer to forms of mysterious market-share metrics that rarely matter in the big scheme of things. Or, it refers to the mere suggestion that a competition for some metric may be taking place.

As KILL should mean death-inducing blow, I wish tech bloggers, pundits and others could come up with a word other than KILL to describe fascinating forms of competition that mean little to the bottomline.

*I’ve decided to start using the term “re-tweet” to mean those stories that bloggers and others write that are merely re-hashing something from another source. The term comes from the practice on Twitter of echoing or “forwarding” something shared by someone you follow to those who follow you.

  • Thank you for writing this; I agree wholeheartedly. I don’t think this usage of “kill” is limited to Tech writing, but we certainly see a lot of it in the tech blogosphere.

    (hat tip)

  • Frank

    Right on, man! It’s so annoying to see apparently quite-desperate bloggers resorting to sensationalistic headlines, especially those with “OMG KILLER!” in all caps. Sheesh.

  • Maybe it’s a SEO strategy?

  • Hudge

    Re: your headline – i’d probably have said “spike” instead of kill kill. Which begins to remind me of the draft board scene in “Alice’s Restaurant”