She typed in 'God damn clippy'

by Michael S. Kaplan, published on 2007/07/22 02:59 -04:00, original URI:

I had a friend complain to me the other day (the way that all folks who have friends working at Microsoft tend to do) about Clippy and how to turn him off in Office 2003.

Now I have mentioned before that Clippy is off in the default install and has been for a few versions now.

But I figure if even Charles Simonyi can be confused by it then I suppose anyone can. :-)

So I remembered an old trick someone had mentioned to me and asked my friend "Have you tried being rude to him?"

"What do you mean?" she asked me. "How can you be rude to a talking paper clip?"

"Well," I suggested, "try venting your anger at him. Tell him in a few concise words how you feel about him."

Many of you may know this trick. I was being a bit vague intentionally, but she actually came up with the same language for her complaint that many others have:

After telling Clippy this, the first item on the list explains how to change the Office Assistant,and the second item explains how to hide or show it.

Now this is obviously not the only way to find the message, but I find three different language issues amusing here:

I wonder how sophisticated the "unhappy user" detection is here in language. And whether it has been appropriately localized.

Any other language versions of Office users have any data they'd like to share? I'd love to know if Clippy can detect people being unhappy with him beyond his English users....


This post brought to you by (U+2042, a.k.a. ASTERISM)

Helen DeWitt on 23 Jul 2007 11:10 AM:

Might it be possible to run a survey on users' views of the opportunity cost of Clippy? Ever time I see this icon I think: blimey, the time and money spent on this could have been spent getting Word for Macintosh to handle Arabic! Presumably other users' rage is not simply the result of dislike for animated office products but of regret for things that would be actually useful that haven't been implemented. (It is not actually the presence of Clippy, but the absence of usable Arabic, that keeps me using Mellel -- which would be fine if Word did not in fact have more features for Japanese input.)

Jenne on 23 Jul 2007 12:59 PM:

I think I just used to type " Go away" to get the same result.

Michael S. Kaplan on 23 Jul 2007 1:11 PM:

Hello Helen,

It is not really that simple, of course. We aren't talking about the same teams or even the same business units, let alone the same developers doing item #1 who could have done item #2 instead....

AljechinsCat on 24 Jul 2007 1:12 AM:


the german version of Clippy named "Karl Klammer" shows how to get rid of it when inserting the comment "Hau ab" (a rude form of saying "please leave").

There´s rumour on Clippy´s return in future´s worlds.  Clippy´s text in the following cartoon can be translated as follows:

"Looks you would like to shoot a klingon´s spaceship.

Do you need help?


- I want help for activating the phaser gun.

- I want to activate the phaser without help."


&quot;Expressions of negative Clippy feelings&quot; on 29 Jul 2007 7:18 PM:

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I18N invective on 29 Jul 2007 7:20 PM:

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referenced by

2015/07/23 On saying God Damn Clippy like a Japanese user might

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