Every paper and lecture should have a

“comma-stupid” phrase (from creating_passionate_users). Just replace ‘user’ with the target audience for a paper, and replace ‘user’ with ‘student’ for a lecture.


I believe we all should spend time—a lot of time—figuring out exactly what should be in our “comma-stupid” phrase. We can start by asking, “What does the user care about?” Followed by, “OK, but WHY does he care about that?” Follwed by, “And why does he care about that? until we get to the heart of it. Then we pick a phrase… a message that expresses this in a way that everyone on the team can understand. Then from that point forward, every decision should include two questions:

1) How will this [thing we’re about to do] support, enable, or amplify what the user cares most about?

2) How will this [thing we’re about to do] potentially hurt or stand in the way of what the user cares most about?

And I actually believe that for 90% of us (my work included) the answer to the ”comma-stupid“ question is ”the user kicking ass“, but of course it’s up to us to define exactly what ”kicking ass“ means for our particular context. So that’s my challenge to you—ask yourself if you have a clear, ”It’s the [something], stupid!“ Then ask yourself if it gets to the real heart of what is most meaningful to the user.


One day, I would like to have the guts to write a referee report that simply says: ”This paper does not kick any ass. Sorry.”

(It was an exhausting week.)


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