There are some acronyms which save time to those who write, but may not be known by few readers.

For example AFAICT, AFAIK, FWIK, IMHO. I think these are really widely known. And also widely used. If the reader doesn't know, she or he just a click away from looking it up, and will gain a knowledge he won't forget.

Should the posters avoid acronyms and write fully expanded words instead?

Note: This is not about auto-expanding. This is about expanding by posters.

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    I think you argue successfully in your own question against your proposal. I think it's probably a waste of code to automatically expand them and a waste of typing to write them out, given the exceedingly low barrier to finding out what they mean. Jul 6, 2013 at 4:03
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    FWIW, IDK if acronyms rly make things harder 2 read IMO. AFAIK, it's simple enough just 2 ignore them LOL. Jul 6, 2013 at 4:05
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    But seriously. Acronyms suck. Auto expanding it gains very little, as a human can easily edit it themselves, and they aren't too common on the site. Not to mention situations where it may be useful to have that text itself in the post (such as a question about filtering such words), so just leave it alone and let the community moderate itself, like it always has. Jul 6, 2013 at 4:06
  • I didn't write anything about auto expanding. I misworded the question. Jul 6, 2013 at 5:42

3 Answers 3


Of course they should, but that doesn't mean they will. We can't reallyforce users to do anything, just like we can't force users to capitalize their "i" and type the full word "please" rather than "plz." I find myself often hitting up Google to figure out what on Earth someone was saying because of unfamiliar acronyms.

You should always assume that the person on the other end isn't familiar with the acronym you're using. Try to expand them as often as possible in your answers. Remember, this is a global audience. Just because all your friends you text with where you live know what it means doesn't mean someone half-way across the world does.

In the end, if you see an acronym somewhere that you think will confuse someone, feel free to edit it to what it means to make the post clearer (of course you can't edit them in comments). As usual, make sure you're fixing up any other issues with the post in the process.

The only real exception I can think of for this is acronyms specific to a certain technology that a question is based on, but it'd have to be something so common that you couldn't possibly not know about it. Even then, I'd much prefer users fully type it out once and then abbreviate it in the rest of the post, to be as clear as possible.

  • Agreed - An assumption that your audience equates IOC with 'inversion of control' is more reasonable than AFAICT being equated to 'as far as I can tell', IIRC. But YMMV, IDK.
    – Tim Post
    Jul 6, 2013 at 6:16
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    Can you explain what you mean by "Google"?
    – jscs
    Jul 6, 2013 at 6:23

If the reader doesn't know, she or he just a click away from looking it up, and will gain a knowledge he won't forget.

I agree, so you are right, we should not do this.

In general I recommend against making a proposal on meta unless you can also make a cogent case for it. It's similar to doing research effort on your own question on SO. If you already disagree with a proposal, it's probably better not to bring up at all. See the resounding downvotes on this question, for example.

  • I don't disagree. The question was misunderstood. Jul 6, 2013 at 6:43

IMO since English is not the first language of everyone visiting the site this feature is at least somewhat useful. It could be a preference in user options. People could turn it off at their discretion. If you want them expanded they could be.

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    The rendered HTML is cached. This would require invalidating the ENTIRE cache to go and generate two versions for EVERY revision. That's not what we want.
    – Cole Tobin
    Jul 6, 2013 at 5:35

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