There's an argument on one site whether to expand abbrevs like AFAICT and FWIK. They save a lot of time of those who write them but some say there are not much known.

Is there some statistics of how much these are known in average computer literate population?

  • 5
    Just expand them. Please. They don’t save time. They cost time — others’ time. They’re terribly annoying. Please, I beg you. Have mercy. Think of others.
    – tchrist Mod
    Commented Jul 6, 2013 at 0:45
  • I guess that depens on the audience. If the audience is familiar with them, they save time. Hence the question. Commented Jul 6, 2013 at 1:31
  • I don't really see a problem when people use relatively well-known initialisms online. If you don't recognise one it's only a few clicks to look it up in another browser window. If you're texting you just have to know whether the other person is likely to understand you or not (you won't save any time if you txt c u 2moz and the other person txts back wots 2moz?). Commented Jul 6, 2013 at 3:33
  • I wonder why so many -1s. I don't mind, just curious. Commented Jul 6, 2013 at 3:36
  • This is a question of style. Some people and online cultures really go for them. Some others don't. As to stats, I dont know.
    – Mitch
    Commented Jul 9, 2013 at 20:13

3 Answers 3


Take “AFAICT” and “as far as I can tell” and do a http://www.googlefight.com/

  • AFAICT: 33,100 / 324,000,000 = .000102
  • FWIK: 4,490 / 1,020,000 = .004402

(But then, I interpret FWIK as “for what I know”. You’ll have to get more complex to include all the other variants.)

However, if you’re trying to use measurement to justify abbreviation – that’s a very slippery slope. Statistics will not account for class or proper use.

To my mind it’s all about understanding your audience, and statistics be damned. If you’re texting to your family or friends, you’ll just have to gather which is more appropriate – typing out a bunch of letters or communicating as curtly and efficiently as possible. Contemplating the balance is half the fun.

Publishing with abbreviations for public consumption, or to anyone you don’t know, you may inadvertently look like a child.

Just my $.02

  • ipso, so you are saying one should abstain from using abbrevations even if they communicate more with fewer letters, as @tchrist's comment said? Onestly, AFAIK, the idea that they are unacceptable seems only to derive from writing in the humanities, but business and technical reports or speeches could hardly do without them, Just my € 0.01!
    – user19148
    Commented Jul 6, 2013 at 9:30
  • @ Carlo_R - I said what I said; but by all means, do whatever you want. Sometimes it does save time, bordering on mandatory. As a technology guy I too would use: IT/IS, DW, DM, etc. ad nauseam. As I said, writing effectively is all about knowing who your audience is. (But I suspect you just wanted to be obtuse; to fight American Imperiali$m? Just my £.02) And, for the record, tchrist has as many strikingly insightful answers on this site as anyone. He is a high-valued player; ..huge RBI guy.)
    – ipso
    Commented Jul 6, 2013 at 18:30
  • @Carlo_R.: It all depends on the culture you're in. If you're doing txt speak, then it would be totally bizarre not to use abbreviations. In formal writing, any kind of abbreviation is avoided. Here at ELU the trend seems to be no abbreviations. txtspeak abbreviations tend to give a youthful, non-serious feeling to a text. ipso is saying it depends, not that you should do one or the other always.
    – Mitch
    Commented Jul 11, 2013 at 18:14

Try NGram Viewer (http://books.google.com/ngrams/).

Based on the NGram percentage of a word or a phrase, one can somewhat guess its popularity. However, it does not speak for the average computer literate population. For one, there are many computer literate people in the world, who do not know English at all or are poor at it. I usually do not use such acronyms unless I know for a fact that my audience and I use the same expansion. As a matter of fact, a friend of mine, who is a Polish American computer programmer, was not sure what the H in IMHO stood for--humble or honest.

Check out the NGrams for AFAICT, FWIK and AFAIK: http://books.google.com/ngrams/graph?content=AFAICT%2CFWIK%2CAFAIK


Hell, we don't even use grammatical acronyms here, and this is sposta be about grammar.
No A-Equi, no TAMM, no NPI, no 3SgPr, no Q/N-Amb, no DP'.

And we don't use them because they presuppose a knowledge of English syntax,
and most participants here don't have that. Which is a good reason not to use them.
Though perhaps not what the designers of the site had in mind; I couldn't say.

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