Or... why did this question on copy get placed on-hold?

Do we really think, as a community, that copy (in its various forms) isn't part of UX? Dumping this person over to English.SE isn't going to help. The person is looking for a reason as to why it's become an accepted norm to state, "Oops!" on error screens. That's user experience!!!

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    The original question most likely seemed to be a question more about the word "oops" rather than its use in UX. With the changes, it now seems cleaer, so I have voted to reopen it.
    – JohnGB Mod
    Commented Mar 3, 2014 at 14:57
  • I definitely read the question more as "why do we say "oops" than "why do computers say oops". I would say the original question still seems off topic but the edited one not. The accepted answer is clearly all about the meaning of the word and nothing to do with why it's used in an interface specifically.
    – Ben Brocka
    Commented Mar 3, 2014 at 15:01
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    @BenBrocka I agree that the accepted answer, while interesting, has little to do with UX. Yet, in the original question, while it was poorly worded, Man Prakash does ask why do we use the word "Oops" when something goes wrong. Could he have stated more clearly? Sure. But shouldn't we offer to edit the question first instead of simply placing it on hold. Editing the question can show the user a better way to ask their questions in the future. Not scare them off from asking.
    – Hynes
    Commented Mar 3, 2014 at 15:05
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    The trouble with editing the question is that it therefore invalidates the (already accepted) answer. A question about whether words such as Oops should be used on a site / app would be on-topic, but that'd probably have to be a new question, not an edit to that one (and there may already be a similar question about informal messaging on the site at the moment anyway).
    – JonW Mod
    Commented Mar 3, 2014 at 15:31
  • @BenBrocka I didn't notice the accepted answer there. Given that answer, I would change my vote to keeping it closed unless a more appropriate answer to the question is chosen. To keep this in line, it may be a good thing to revert the question to its original intent so that if someone were to want to ask the more UX type question, that they don't get told that it's a duplicate.
    – JohnGB Mod
    Commented Mar 3, 2014 at 17:27
  • As the question currently is (rev5), I read the "oops" as just an example of rather informal language, and the questions core seems to be why in such cases not more professional words are used. However up until rev 2 I read it as just about the english word. Would I have been able to review the following edit(s), I would have rejected them as too radical, since they really changed the meaning of the question. Implying that the OP wanted to know the general usage of similar terms instead of specifically oops is imho just second guessing and should have been done only after a clarifying comment.
    – PlasmaHH
    Commented Mar 3, 2014 at 22:07
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    I agree that the question above has questionable UX value. But this other question closed using this thread as the justification is clearly a UX issue, with UX answers.
    – Racheet
    Commented Mar 7, 2014 at 11:14
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    My question is: With an effective voting system like SE's, why have such over-the-top policing in the first place? If people deem a question or answer valuable, just let it be. I fear that this inflated and fallacious sense of top-down "quality control" is actually deterring engagement and devaluing this otherwise phenomenal platform. But I could very well be the outlier here.
    – ewittke
    Commented Mar 7, 2014 at 15:26

2 Answers 2


We're getting a bit hung up here on "copy is included in UX" and ignoring the actual situation here I think.

The question, as originally asked, was certainly not a matter of copy:

why we using the word OOPS if something went to wrong in the sentence or communication with others? I would like to know the correct information regarding this question. Any help would be much appreciated.

It was a question asking about the usage of english in general with no apparent tie to UX or use in a user-facing manner. The accepted answer drives this point home, it is entirely factoids about the origin of the phrase and absolutely meaningless in terms of UX.

This is not a question about writing copy:

What is the origin of the phrase "raise the roof"?

This is a question about writing copy:

Is it appropriate to use the phrase "raise the roof" in a marketing site for an enterprise app?

Now the question is reopened for some reason, and we're in a bit of a nasty state; the question is asking for UX answers and currently has a +6 accepted answer that is explicitly an English lesson and no more relevant to UX than "don't set users on fire" is relevant to UX.

Personally I think the question should be reverted to it's original state, migrated to English (if they want it, seems in-line to me) and, if anyone cares to know the answer, the edited version should be asked as a separate question, where it can remain on UX. I don't really feel comfortable with the edited question and deleting the now non-answer that was originally accepted, because the question has clearly changed entirely in it's intent.

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    I disagree. Even within the initial post you quoted above, the user asked "why we using the word OOPS if something went to wrong". How is that a question about the origins of the word "Oops!"? Granted the user's English is poor, but from his user profile, it states he's from India. So English could be a second language. The accepted answer is just a poor answer IMO. Every answer here I would assume would be within the lens of user experience. We reward users who respond quickly and ask questions later instead of clarifying and then answering.
    – Hynes
    Commented Mar 3, 2014 at 17:59
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    I agree with Ben completely (and I was the one who suggested it be migrated to English.SE). The question "why are we using the word OOPS if something went wrong" isn't different from the question "why are we using the word CAT to describe the domesticated feline animal" or any other "why are we using the word WORD to describe CONCEPT". It's purely a linguistic question. If the concept were a distinct UX concept, it would be ok ("why is radio button called that"). But otherwise it's just linguistics. Commented Mar 4, 2014 at 14:30
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    @Hynes It's clearly a question about the origin of oops considering he accepted an answer about the origin of oops with no relevance to UX. I think the poster's poor English just left it a bit ambiguous and you're leaning on the side of it being a UX question--I don't see why they'd accept a completely useless answer if it really was about using it in UI since the answer doesnt' address this in any way.
    – Ben Brocka
    Commented Mar 4, 2014 at 15:29
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    @BenBrocka Because people sometimes accept answers just to be done with questions, especially low-rep users.
    – Hynes
    Commented Mar 4, 2014 at 15:36
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    @VitalyMijiritsky Except he's asking it on a UX Q&A website so the assumption should always be there's a UX question in there. If he wanted to ask it on English.SE, he could have.
    – Hynes
    Commented Mar 4, 2014 at 15:37
  • I'd agree. The original question should have been posted on English.se as it was a question of etymology rather than UX. Copy/content is certainly a big part of UX, but this really was just a question about the history of a word.
    – DA01
    Commented Mar 4, 2014 at 20:45
  • @Hynes be that as it may, there still is a better site to get an answer for that specific question (english).
    – DA01
    Commented Mar 4, 2014 at 20:46
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    @Hynes So by that logic we should never close any questions as off-topic because they've been all asked on a UX Q&A website. Commented Mar 4, 2014 at 20:54
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    I think the reason we're getting hung up on the "is copy a part of ux" issue, is because some people genuinely seem to believe it isn't. I've just seen a question closed citing this thread as the reason, but not demonstrating any of the issues you've listed in your answer, and that makes me sad.
    – Racheet
    Commented Mar 7, 2014 at 11:16
  • @Hynes, the user later posted the question on English.SE. It looks to me like he wasn't even sure what UX was and cross-posted because he wasn't sure which SE to ask about English language usage on. I see no evidence that he was looking for a UX-specific answer. Commented Mar 12, 2014 at 22:57
  • I think it's as much a valid question as "My vs Your". We have to understand that UX is quite broad, spanning multiple fields. Sure it's a language question, but it relates to UX, in this case. In fact, I'd go so far as to say that UX is made up entirely of the interpretation of other fields.
    – Dirk v B
    Commented Mar 13, 2014 at 21:55

To continue the discussion, the real question is: At what point are questions related to English not about user experience?

Here's the stick: http://www.slideshare.net/randallsnare/usable-language-how-content-shapes-the-user-experience

Content helps to shape the experience for users (people) but many of us are not copywriters.

We can limit questions regarding content to ones related to content quality and grouping, instead of specific semantics and taxonomy.

But if someone asks "What's a better way of saying [x]?", do we also not need to think about how this impacts users?

I found this quote "The words are often the most valuable experience."

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    I agree with the point I think you're making here, but I may be a little confused, because I thought I just saw you arguing the opposite point here
    – Racheet
    Commented Mar 7, 2014 at 11:22
  • Yes. I am on the fence and like to be devils advocate sometimes. I was also confused because other questions were also flagged for this as well.
    – Pdxd
    Commented Mar 7, 2014 at 11:53
  • I also wrote that before I got to read through this thread and do a bit of research. I don't think there's an absolute answer to this because everyone defines the bounds between ux and language differently.
    – Pdxd
    Commented Mar 7, 2014 at 12:00

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