Poll Last month a Reg reader contacted us via our Twitter account to complain about the use of the word "freetard", on the grounds that, as an analogue of "retard", the word was derogatory to people with mental handicaps.
Americans may have a little difficulty in understanding the substance of this complaint, in the way that most Brits find it hard to understand why "Jap" is a racial slur in the US.
In American English, "retard" and "retarded" are very mild epithets, freely bandied by teenagers: in the UK the words are derogatory and offensive.
Register readers and writers have, we think, embraced American usage, in the ways that they bandy "Freetard" and, as a self-descriptor for people who post on our stories or user forums, "Commentard". And we are happy to go along with this.
Here we call posters "commenters" - and some people are not happy about this. Says 'Northern Fop':
"I am a COMMENTARD, and will accept no alternative!!"
So in the spirit of debate - not democracy, never mistake it for that - we shall run a poll. What's it to be, chaps?
I had thought that readers had taken their cue from The Register's adoption of the term "freetard", but in laying the groundwork for this article I discovered that Commentard popped up on the site in August 2007, some five months before "freetard" made its debut.
Dan Lyons, he of Fake Steve Jobs infamy, coined "freetard", we think as a catch-all term for Free and Open Source (F/OSS) proponents.
El Reg's Andrew Orlowski liked the word so much that he started using it in his own copy, but he adapted the meaning as freetard seemed "so much more apt for free content militants, who nobly refuse to pay creators for music, TV and film - as a point of principle".
That is how The Register continue to define "freetard," much to chagrin of some readers, who think we are "paytards" - shills for Big Content. (We're not, by the way, but there's no persuading some people.)