14 May 2021

Let's Stop Using the Term 'Grandfathering'


The term Grandfathering is used to describe to process by which, when you stop offering a particular type of user account or plan or feature, but don’t want (or can’t) move user currently using it to one of the newly available ones. You ‘Grandfather’ these accounts onto some legacy account plan. These types of accounts or often called Grandfather accounts.

I hate this term.

My reasons are twofold: 1. it has no meaning until you explain the term (see above…) and 2. it is agist for no reason.

When I first learnt of the term the conversation went like this:

Notice how this conversation would have been identical if the term had been ‘flurgle’? The term is completely meaningless.

The fact that the word carries no explanation should be enough to warrant looking for a new word that doesn’t require a lengthly explanation to anyone who hasn’t heard it before. However, it’s also happens to be unnecessarily agist for good reason.

It’s a word used to describe a group of users or accounts that are in some way older (which is probably where the term came from…) and then used to explain that these older accounts need special care and attention in someway and also to say that these types of account will not be tolerated indefinitely.

It is unacceptable that we’ve taken an entire demographic and used their name to describe a thorn in our side and we should stop using it.