Let’s stop this “log in” nonsense

Right, the pedants (that’s me, that is) are revolting. I want to join the campaign – if there is one – to stop the injudicious use of the term “log in”. It drives me mad. If it’s used to refer to the process of signing into a website, let’s use the far less geeky term “sign in”, shall we? Sounding like you’re a Unix programmer from the 1980s is not big, and it’s not clever. Far, far worse though is the use of “log in” just to describe visiting a website; this actually makes you look stupid. Yet half a dozen times a day I see adverts along the lines of: “To find out more about Blue Widgets, log in to www.bluewidgetcompany.co.uk today”. You mean visit the site today. There’s nothing to “log in to” when you get there. Just a website. It’s like the last 15 years never happened.

Surely that’s as bad as it gets, isn’t it? No, there’s worse: the made-up word “login”. Oh, for goodness’ sake. There’s a terrific exposition on this at loginisnotaverb.com which at least shows indisputably that you can’t “login” to something, because, ahem, it’s not a verb. It’s not an adjective or an adverb either, although it works, after a fashion, as a noun. “I have a login” appears to be OK, although I just think it’s an archaic shorthand for “I have a user name and password”. But one thing it is not is a verb. You can’t login to something. Got it?

So unless you’re a network administrator, let’s just leave the logs undisturbed in the forest of computer history, shall we? 479 million web pages can be wrong.

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