July 21, 2004

Think of others when you name your files

Author: Robin 'Roblimo' Miller

This is not a technical story about Linux file names, but a brief thought about names we choose for files we have created ourselves, and how even the best file name you choose for yourself can become meaningless when you share that file with others.I am looking at a file called "resume.sxw" that was sent to me in response to an ad for freelance writers we ran at journalismjobs.com. I am going to save it. But I can't save it as "resume.sxw" because this is the 20th or 30th "resume" file I have gotten in the last month. If I decide this resume is worth keeping, I'll need to rename it.

It makes perfect sense to name your resume "resume" on your computer. You are you, and that's your resume. The problem comes when you send it to someone who's getting stacks of resumes and none of them have names that tell which resume belongs to which applicant. All of a sudden "BillJonesResume" or "Resume-Alice_Johnson" look like better file names than the basic "resume."

I'm not calling myself blameless on the file name front. Before I realized what I was doing, I sent my share of "expense report" files to an overburdened acounting clerk who got dozens of files with that name every month.

I remember when P2P networks first started getting popular, and how I shook my head at some ofl the file name permutations I saw on them. Some were confusing. Others were just silly.

How much worldwide work time do you think it would save if we all spent a second thinking of the recipient every time we attached a file to an email or uploaded one to an FTP server? I suspect it would be a considerable amount.


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