A few months ago I wrote about the use of the term Archive instead of Delete in a popular podcasting app. I was concerned that this would become a trend. Unfortunately my concerns seems to becoming a reality.
Perhaps this has been going on for a while and I am just noticing it now, but I just spotted this behavior in another app, the Dragon+ app from Wizards of the Coast. Dragon+ is a “magazine” app. Every month they come out with a new issue. You can get early info on new products, advice for running a Dungeons & Dragons game, and much more. It acts a replacement for a now legendary print magazine, Dragon.
The app setup is simple. You have a list of publications and are given the chance to download them. Click the download button and a progress bar appears. When the download is finished, that download buttons switches to an archive button.
Curious what they mean by archive, I clicked the button. This is the prompt I got.
That seems a lot more like the prompt you get when you are about to delete something. So I proceed and when I return to the app home screen I have the option to download again.
I didn’t archive anything. I deleted it.
I understand the search for a new expression or way to explain what is going on here. Dragon+ wants you to know that you might be deleting this issue of their magazine, but that it will be available to you again if you choose to re-download it. This makes sense, if I can always download past issues.
What happens though when older issues that I believe “Archived” are actually removed from the service?
The word archive has meaning. To try and borrow it to fit your distribution capability robs it of that meaning and can actually erode the very important concept of what it means to archive.
So be clearer. Use the word you mean to use, Delete. If that term is too harsh, perhaps you could use a wonderful term that is more applicable to your actual model of distribution, Borrow.
It works for libraries and it tells us everything we need to know about our relationship. I do not own this thing you are letting me read, nor should I have the expectation that it will be available in the future.
The long term availability of information is important. We count on words to let us know that the this information is getting treated a certain way. As technology professionals it falls upon us to do the right thing to make sure people have a great user experience. This means making it easy for them to navigate and not tricking them into clicking in areas they don’t want to go. It also means not misleading them with words that have historical and functional meaning, just because it is more convenient for you.