Words are important, so much so that I probably don’t even need to explain why.
They can hurt people, they can make people feel safe, they can make people know how others feel about them, and most of all, they can convince people of things that otherwise would have no way to be communicated between people.
So today, I want to talk about two different words, and describe why these words are so different, and why one is better than the other in a certain use-case.
Consider these two statements.
“help welcome” and “help wanted”
Both are trying to communicate the same sentiment, honestly, but one comes across a bit less.. human.
The reason behind it is that ‘help wanted’ is something the human brain will directly compare to other uses of the word ‘wanted’, and that can often mean a reader will parse this more similar to ‘wanted criminal’ than they will find it similar to ‘we are excited to see you’.
That’s not a very good look, and thus wanted is often sub-optimal, when trying to make users feel like they are accepted, regardless of who they might be.
There are reasons that wanted might be more accurate, in some situations, due to the connotation of ‘being hard to find’ that comes with the term, but welcome is a more positive spin on the matter. ‘Wanted’ implies that it should already have happened, in a way. Wanted criminals are wanted because they should have already turned themselves in, for example, in a perfect world. Welcome implies that if the criminal was to turn themselves in, they would get a bed to sleep in, and food, and be at least cared for, when they do approach the person in question, and as such, it is more likely to succeed.
Welcome is a better word, but let’s try to figure out why.
The why of things is often the key to learning something meaningful from a situation, which is my reason for attempting to teach on this specific topic.
‘Welcome’ is a word directly correlated to the concept of holidays, or being invited into one’s home, and many other instances of someone being accepted for who they are, and offered something to show that acceptance.
As such, ‘welcome’ always means a positive thing, while ‘wanted’ can just as easily be wholly negative.
So now hopefully, we have learned something meaningful, and you can grasp why exactly you should use the word welcome instead of wanted, if you are writing, for example, a code of conduct, or a guide to how to contribute to an open source project.
Thank you for listening,
– hoodie aida kitten