What's the difference between Delete and Remove?

17 Oct 2007 - 10:37am
7 years ago
7 replies
15493 reads
paigesaez
2007

I was discussing this very question with some friends and co-workers and
wanted to get other designers thoughts on this one.

The definition of "Delete" includes remove;

Delete: to strike out or remove (something written or printed); cancel;
erase; expunge.

But "Remove" does not include "Delete";

Remove: to move from a place or position; take away or off...

(cursory search via Dictionary.com)

I think about deleting as removing too. But I think about removing as, well,
re-moving. So to me they are only different in one direction.
Which terms do you prefer and why? Technical vs Colloquial, Formal language
vs Informal, Direct vs Elusive...

thanks!

--
Paige Saez
Interaction Designer

PLANET ARGON, LLC
Design, Development, and Hosting with Ruby on Rails

http://www.planetargon.com/

+1 971 227 4384
+1 877 55 ARGON [toll free]
+1 815 642 4068 [fax]

Comments

17 Oct 2007 - 3:43pm
Janna Cameron
2004

I consider the difference between the two being dependent on the object
itself..

"Remove" is for things that will exist outside of the list. For
instance, I would "remove" a user from the list of people with admin
privileges - but the user still exists in the system.

"Delete" is for things that only exist in a specific list. For
instance, I would "delete" a specific user account.

-----Original Message-----
From: discuss-bounces at lists.interactiondesigners.com
[mailto:discuss-bounces at lists.interactiondesigners.com] On Behalf Of
paige saez
Sent: October 17, 2007 12:38 PM
To: discuss at ixda.org
Subject: [IxDA Discuss] What's the difference between Delete and Remove?

I was discussing this very question with some friends and co-workers and
wanted to get other designers thoughts on this one.

The definition of "Delete" includes remove;

Delete: to strike out or remove (something written or printed); cancel;
erase; expunge.

But "Remove" does not include "Delete";

Remove: to move from a place or position; take away or off...

(cursory search via Dictionary.com)

I think about deleting as removing too. But I think about removing as,
well,
re-moving. So to me they are only different in one direction.
Which terms do you prefer and why? Technical vs Colloquial, Formal
language
vs Informal, Direct vs Elusive...

thanks!

--
Paige Saez
Interaction Designer

PLANET ARGON, LLC
Design, Development, and Hosting with Ruby on Rails

http://www.planetargon.com/

+1 971 227 4384
+1 877 55 ARGON [toll free]
+1 815 642 4068 [fax]
________________________________________________________________
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17 Oct 2007 - 3:59pm
Oleh Kovalchuke
2006

Colloquial, informal and elusive (also personal as well as 'my 2 cents'):

"Delete" is final (barring "undo"), removes the item completely, from all
lists.
"Remove" - removes the item from the current list (other lists might still
contain the item).

Oleh

On 10/17/07, paige saez <paige.destroy at gmail.com> wrote:
>
> I was discussing this very question with some friends and co-workers and
> wanted to get other designers thoughts on this one.
>
> The definition of "Delete" includes remove;
>
> Delete: to strike out or remove (something written or printed); cancel;
> erase; expunge.
>
> But "Remove" does not include "Delete";
>
> Remove: to move from a place or position; take away or off...
>
> (cursory search via Dictionary.com)
>
> I think about deleting as removing too. But I think about removing as,
> well,
> re-moving. So to me they are only different in one direction.
> Which terms do you prefer and why? Technical vs Colloquial, Formal
> language
> vs Informal, Direct vs Elusive...
>
> thanks!
>
>
>
> --
> Paige Saez
> Interaction Designer
>
> PLANET ARGON, LLC
> Design, Development, and Hosting with Ruby on Rails
>
> http://www.planetargon.com/
>
> +1 971 227 4384
> +1 877 55 ARGON [toll free]
> +1 815 642 4068 [fax]
> ________________________________________________________________
> Welcome to the Interaction Design Association (IxDA)!
> To post to this list ....... discuss at ixda.org
> Unsubscribe ................ http://gamma.ixda.org/unsubscribe
> List Guidelines ............ http://gamma.ixda.org/guidelines
> List Help .................. http://gamma.ixda.org/help
>

--
Oleh Kovalchuke
Interaction Design is the Design of Time
http://www.tangospring.com/IxDtopicWhatIsInteractionDesign.htm

17 Oct 2007 - 4:12pm
Ari
2006

i tend to agree with this definition but it's not universal. i suspect both
terms have become largely synonymous from a functionality
and metaphoric standpoint.
for ex: in linux and OS X's shell, you delete files by typing 'rm', which is
short for 'remove' - kind of ironic.

On 10/17/07, Oleh Kovalchuke <tangospring at gmail.com> wrote:
>
> Colloquial, informal and elusive (also personal as well as 'my 2 cents'):
>
> "Delete" is final (barring "undo"), removes the item completely, from all
> lists.
> "Remove" - removes the item from the current list (other lists might still
> contain the item).
>
> Oleh
>
>
> On 10/17/07, paige saez <paige.destroy at gmail.com> wrote:
> >
> > I was discussing this very question with some friends and co-workers and
> > wanted to get other designers thoughts on this one.
> >
> > The definition of "Delete" includes remove;
> >
> > Delete: to strike out or remove (something written or printed); cancel;
> > erase; expunge.
> >
> > But "Remove" does not include "Delete";
> >
> > Remove: to move from a place or position; take away or off...
> >
> > (cursory search via Dictionary.com)
> >
> > I think about deleting as removing too. But I think about removing as,
> > well,
> > re-moving. So to me they are only different in one direction.
> > Which terms do you prefer and why? Technical vs Colloquial, Formal
> > language
> > vs Informal, Direct vs Elusive...
> >
> > thanks!
> >
> >
> >
> > --
> > Paige Saez
> > Interaction Designer
> >
> > PLANET ARGON, LLC
> > Design, Development, and Hosting with Ruby on Rails
> >
> > http://www.planetargon.com/
> >
> > +1 971 227 4384
> > +1 877 55 ARGON [toll free]
> > +1 815 642 4068 [fax]
> > ________________________________________________________________
> > Welcome to the Interaction Design Association (IxDA)!
> > To post to this list ....... discuss at ixda.org
> > Unsubscribe ................ http://gamma.ixda.org/unsubscribe
> > List Guidelines ............ http://gamma.ixda.org/guidelines
> > List Help .................. http://gamma.ixda.org/help
> >
>
>
>
> --
> Oleh Kovalchuke
> Interaction Design is the Design of Time
> http://www.tangospring.com/IxDtopicWhatIsInteractionDesign.htm
> ________________________________________________________________
> Welcome to the Interaction Design Association (IxDA)!
> To post to this list ....... discuss at ixda.org
> Unsubscribe ................ http://gamma.ixda.org/unsubscribe
> List Guidelines ............ http://gamma.ixda.org/guidelines
> List Help .................. http://gamma.ixda.org/help
>

--
--------------------------------------------------
www.flyingyogi.com
--------------------------------------------------

17 Oct 2007 - 4:26pm
SemanticWill
2007

On 10/17/07, Oleh Kovalchuke <tangospring at gmail.com> wrote:
>
> Colloquial, informal and elusive (also personal as well as 'my 2 cents'):
>
> "Delete" is final (barring "undo"), removes the item completely, from all
> lists.
> "Remove" - removes the item from the current list (other lists might still
> contain the item).
>
> Oleh

-----
You will all love my first answer - it depends. And there is no consistent
rule.
Examples:

rm on a unix/linux file system does a very specific thing. Users of those
OSes know what to expect. People not familiar with rm wouldn't have learned
it and probably aren't to be bothered learning x-nix systems.

Since as long as my first Mac - file management introduced the trash can
metaphor. You didn't remove a file - you sent it to the trash, but you could
decide to take things out of the trash which restored the file, or 'take out
the trash' which meant completely deleting a file. MS copied that metaphor
and changed labels, but the context/content/user expectation remained about
the same.

Gmail uses the term "delete" to actually remove from list, and move to
trash - where you then have to select all and delete the trash as well. I
won't belabor that point since most of us have used gmail. Delete on an OSes
files system does the same thing.

There are at least a few other examples where GUI based OSes have taken one
route. This of course is very different when you are talking about a
relational database, but this is not a dbase discussion list, so we can
ignore that.

Semantically - and to some degree philosophically - I think the two have
different meanings. Unfortunately - that is moot since most thick client
apps, thin client apps, web-apps, and every flavor of OS takes a different
route depending on the mood, intellect, assumptions, caffeine level, and a
host of other issues when the "Foo," thing is being designed by whoever
designed it.

So perhaps we should discuss 'best practices,' by that I mean the following:

- Allow an action to be undone. Robust Undo, in other words.
- Allow the user to recover from a mistake. Clearly communicate that.
- Use labels on action commands that more closely match a tested group
of user's mental model as to what might actually happen if they do
something. See Norman "User Centered System Design," to understand what I am
talking about here.
- Don't annoy the user with nagging comments if it's a recoverable
action. When I turn off the car, it does not pop up a display on the
dashboard asking me if I am sure - because I can easily recover (I know
that's not true driving down the highway).

I suppose the key is context of action, content action acts upon, and
expectation of user based on user profiles.

Those are my 2 cents (if that).

--
~ will

"Where you innovate, how you innovate,
and what you innovate are design problems"
-------------------------------------------------------
will evans
user experience architect
wkevans4 at gmail.com
-------------------------------------------------------

17 Oct 2007 - 5:27pm
Will Parker
2007

On Oct 17, 2007, at 9:37 AM, paige saez wrote:

> The definition of "Delete" includes remove;
> <snip>
> But "Remove" does not include "Delete";

> I think about deleting as removing too. But I think about removing
> as, well,
> re-moving. So to me they are only different in one direction.
> Which terms do you prefer and why? Technical vs Colloquial, Formal
> language
> vs Informal, Direct vs Elusive...

In several software applications I use regularly -- Apple iTunes and
Linotype FontExplorer come to mind -- you can _remove_ items (songs
and fonts in the example apps) from displayed lists, but without
actually _deleting_ (as in 'permanently destroying') the item in
question from the file system, or indeed, without necessarily
removing the item in question from other lists maintained by the
application.

I treat 'remove' as 'remove from this collection', and 'delete' as
'permanently discard'.

Will Parker
WParker at ChannelingDesign.com

17 Oct 2007 - 8:00pm
Matt Nish-Lapidus
2007

It's interesting that you bring that up.. because I've always though
of "remove" or "rm" as being very permanent.. a command to be careful
with. I'm sure a lot of fellow linux users feel the same way.

Whereas "delete" in a GUI OS just moves things to the trash, which can
be undone.

But this all falls apart in the examples many of you have stated...
especially in apps that have sub-lists that act independently from the
main list (library) ...

It looks like this is an area that could use some work and
consistency. Realistically, all my linux biases aside, "remove" does
sound less drastic than "delete" ...

My favourite linux/unix command has always been "kill" .. so I'm not
one to talk about drastic sounding commands.

On 10/17/07, W Evans <wkevans4 at gmail.com> wrote:
> rm on a unix/linux file system does a very specific thing. Users of those
> OSes know what to expect. People not familiar with rm wouldn't have learned
> it and probably aren't to be bothered learning x-nix systems.

--
Matt Nish-Lapidus
email/gtalk: mattnl at gmail.com
++
LinkedIn: http://www.linkedin.com/in/mattnl
Home: http://www.nishlapidus.com

17 Oct 2007 - 11:16pm
dmitryn
2004

In addition to the "remove from list" vs. "discard" distinction, the
difference between these terms could also indicate the type of "thing"
that is being operated on.

In an application I am currently designing, I use "create" and
"delete" to label operations on primary entities, and "add" and
"remove" to denote operations on attributes that exist within the
context of a primary entity. I believe this is fairly common in
enterprise applications.

Dmitry

On 10/17/07, Will Parker <wparker at channelingdesign.com> wrote:
> On Oct 17, 2007, at 9:37 AM, paige saez wrote:
>
> > The definition of "Delete" includes remove;
> > <snip>
> > But "Remove" does not include "Delete";
>
> > I think about deleting as removing too. But I think about removing
> > as, well,
> > re-moving. So to me they are only different in one direction.
> > Which terms do you prefer and why? Technical vs Colloquial, Formal
> > language
> > vs Informal, Direct vs Elusive...
>
> In several software applications I use regularly -- Apple iTunes and
> Linotype FontExplorer come to mind -- you can _remove_ items (songs
> and fonts in the example apps) from displayed lists, but without
> actually _deleting_ (as in 'permanently destroying') the item in
> question from the file system, or indeed, without necessarily
> removing the item in question from other lists maintained by the
> application.
>
> I treat 'remove' as 'remove from this collection', and 'delete' as
> 'permanently discard'.
>
> Will Parker
> WParker at ChannelingDesign.com
>
>
>
> ________________________________________________________________
> Welcome to the Interaction Design Association (IxDA)!
> To post to this list ....... discuss at ixda.org
> Unsubscribe ................ http://gamma.ixda.org/unsubscribe
> List Guidelines ............ http://gamma.ixda.org/guidelines
> List Help .................. http://gamma.ixda.org/help
>

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