wHy ThE cApiTaLiZaTiOn Of EvErY oThEr LeTtEr?

DiItAl cOnFrEnCeS

I don’t get it. Where did this idiotic affectation begin? Is this some stupid bleedover from the gamer subculture? “wOOt!” “pWnEd!”

I know every generation resorts to slang and obscurity to differentiate itself, but the retards who capitalize every other letter need to hang it up.

Some digging has yielded the information that this practice is known as “Studlycaps” or “camel caps” From the Wikipedia:

“According to the Jargon File “ThE oRigiN and SigNificaNce of thIs pRacTicE iS oBscuRe.” it appears to have been popularized among adolescent users during the BBS and early WWW eras of online culture, as a form of rebellion against the rules for proper capitalization of names and sentences. Unlike the use of all lowercase letters, which suggests laziness or efficiency as a motivation, StudlyCaps requires additional effort to type, either holding and releasing the Shift key with one hand while hunting-and-pecking, or alternately pressing one Shift key or the other while touch typing. The iNiQUITY BBS software based on Renegade had a feature to support this automatically.”

Author: David Churbuck

Cape Codder with an itch to write

16 thoughts on “wHy ThE cApiTaLiZaTiOn Of EvErY oThEr LeTtEr?”

  1. Umm…You know, Lenovo and IBM before it kind of, sorta engage in this practice too.


    Curiously, the only name that I can think of in our marketing lexicon that doesn’t follow this convention is Ultrabay. It’s always been lower case, one word.

    The precursor to this every other letter practice would have to be the intentional misspellings of words.

    Kwik instead of quick
    Brite instead of bright

  2. MKohut refers to the EZmart dialect of English. I have never understood why anyone thinks naming the shop KwikkyMart or PikNPay would provide any commercial advantage. “Let’s shop there! They can’t spell!”

  3. My brother and I have long called the KwikkyMart practice “small business phonetics.” My-T-Muffler is a teeth-grinding example. We thought about starting a business offering overnight phrasing and naming services. This would be a campaign against intentional miss-spellings, “placing things in quotes for no reason,” and creating plural’s in the seemingly most popular, but incorrect, fashion.

  4. Matt —
    The tech industry’s infatuation with innovative capitalization officially ended in my mind when Microsoft gave up the longstanding affectation of MicroSoft.

    I wrote a story about Cisco for Forbes when they were lower-case “cisco” Copy desk would not permit a sentence to begin lowercase.

    cisco turned into Cisco

  5. Technical capitalisation is merely a useful technique for removing whitespace from variables, the alternative technique is to replace whitespace with underscores. However the purpose of these techniques is to maintain some readability – TheEndOfReadability is a little less readable than the_end_of_readability, but the later takes a little longer to type. Both are more readable than theendofreadability.

    The alternative spellings of quick and bright is probably as much to do with legal issues as youth culture.

  6. But nothing nearly as annoying as EvErY oThEr LeTtEr TyPeD iN cApS … UGH!!!

  7. Common rules for creating good passwords have always aimed at making common, easy-to-remember phrases harder to guess and also making plain-text harder to crack through dictionary attacks (trying every word in the English language is easy enough, but trying to guess or even crack a password that started out as ‘irule’ and ended up as ‘1ru73’ is costly, time consuming, and raises the likelihood of getting caught hacking.

    Institutions like Ebay and PayPal have started enforcing these password strength rules, requiring some capital and some lowercase and some numeric (and in extreme cases, some non-alpha, non-numeric character) in every password.

    These were always good rules of thumb that the tech-savvy followed when creating passwords – using it in online chat started out as an inside joke and got picked up by people who ran it into the ground because they thought it would make them look tech-savvy if they talked like the tech-savvy.

    I’m pretty sure pwned got started in multiplayer FPS gaming when somebody excitedly mispelled “owned” after killing some poor sucker from a sniper perch for the 88th time in a session… and spread pretty much the same way.

  8. This was a thing way before the gamer culture existed. I remember it being used quite commonly when America Online was just becoming a thing (2.5 days maybe? Definitely 3.0) So was the “leet speak” thrown around using letters, numbers, and even punctuation, by wanna be hackers who spent all their time making VB programs that spammed simple html tags to instant messages and chats. Right around the same time when acronyms (roflmfao) began to run wild and emoticons came into existence.

    Most of it was a facade then just as it still is now, just some people still think its cool.

  9. When I occasionally use this technique, it is to emphasize the word according to how I talk, so the person reading knows to emphasize the word to understand how I speak. Or sometimes, I aM tRyInG tO gEt ThE pErSoN tO aCtUaLlY pRoSeS wHaT I aM tYpInG tO tHeM.

  10. Thanks for explaining this. I often wondered. It just seems crazy to me – so much effort for nothing. I guessed there’s some kind of group-think behind it. I once commented to a Twitter user doing this, “doesn’t that take you a long while, to capitalise every other letter”. He just replied. yEs. So until today I never found out why.

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