Information Technology Dark Side

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The “You’re So Full of Crap” Test

May 3rd, 2007 · 3 Comments

Do you have a colleague who seems to be trying too hard to impress? Do you suspect that your boss doesn’t know what he’s talking about? Do you think your project manager is just full of crap?

Here’s a simple test anyone can use to determine if someone is full of crap – all you need is a pen and paper, 5-10 minutes, and a bucket of patience.

Step One: Write the following phrases on your paper and keep it with you when you meet your colleague.

  • Actually
  • Literally
  • At the end of the day
  • Step Two: Hang out with your crap-ful colleague and engage him or her in a casual conversation about work. At some point, say something along the lines of the following:


    “Some people think the best way to solve a problem is to follow a structured process that guides you through various activities that, if followed correctly, will enable you to solve nearly any problem. Other people believe problems are best solved by assembling a team of highly skilled professionals and setting them loose, without guidance or process. What do you think?”

    Don’t worry. You don’t have to listen to the answer, at least not in the context of caring what their opinion is. It doesn’t really matter what they think – the only thing you care about is how many times they use special “I’m sooooo full of crap” keywords. Make a tick mark beside each word as your friend talks.

    Step Three:
    Interrupt your friend somehow and add up the points as follows:

  • One point for every time they said “actually”
  • Two points for every time they said literally
  • Ten points for every time they said “At the end of the day”
  • Ten points if they used the same cliche phrase more than once
  • Step Four: Grade your friend based on the following schedule:

  • 0 Points – No crap here.
  • 1-5 Points – Not necessarily full of crap, but they might need to spruce up their vocabulary.
  • 6-10 Points – Mildly offensive overuse of words intended to look impressive. You should consider this crap cup half full.
  • 11-20 Points – This is a serious sign of trying too hard. It stinketh.
  • 21+ Points – I’m sorry that you have to work with this person. My condolences.
  • Step Five: Keep the results to yourself.

    Now, before any of you accuse me of being a jerk, let me settle one thing – I don’t seriously believe in this test. It’s not really a good way to see if someone is full of crap. Sorry.


    It’s not entirely a joke though either. I am sick of these words. IT people say them far too much, and it does make the speaker appear overly eager to impress. That said, I do advocate counting how often you say these words. Why? Because it makes you look like your full of crap, and whether you are or not you don’t want to create that impression.

    I sat in a meeting recently with some non-IT folks. We had a heated discussion about important matters, and none of the non-IT folks said any of these words, not even once. I had to bite my tongue several times to stop from saying actually. I suggest you do the same. These words don’t mean anything, and they just make you look like a nerd trying to get a date with a cheerleader.

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    3 responses so far ↓

    • 1 Garrett // May 3, 2007 at 9:29 pm

      A couple more I would throw into the mix of “full of it” metric (cool word, impressed?) phrases:

      “As I said,…”

      “To reiterate,…”

      I heard you the first time. I also understood you the first time and I am insulted that you apparently think otherwise.

    • 2 Allen // May 17, 2007 at 3:24 pm

      Sounds like you have the nice start to a “Nerd Words” list. Hmm lets see what Google has on the subject. Ahh yes! (

    • 3 Max // May 9, 2012 at 6:53 am

      My brother named Ashley talked about his “crap” day at work. Usually complaining about the workplace. Sadly he needs to put up with that crap; but I just can’t cut it. I usually live in my own Tower world of philosophy, I don’t need to listen to that crap. However I told him he can sort it out, he wasn’t pessimistic, what a surprise!

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