Dogma of Swapping Control/Capslock

By Xah Lee. Date:

… Now i'll spoil our nice chat by adding more info…

The CapsLock position for Ctrl is actually not bad. Excellent design in fact. For example, of the 3 keyboard designs i admire, one of them is “Truly Ergonomic” (TE). See: Ergonomic Keyboards Gallery

on TE, it actually put Shift key on the CapsLock position, on both sides of the keyboard! What a fantastic, great, thoughtful, design.

Question: Why are you against the CapsLock position then? Answer: it's because the tech-geeking faakheads.

There are certain class of programers, a subculture, who pride themselves around the term hacker. These people, collectively loosely have certain way or habit and thought pattern, and a subset of them are loud-mouthers on some issues (such as our Thad Floryan fellow here, who, every time would sting me about CapsLock/Ctrl switch when i write about keyboard. Which, is perfectly fine, just don't blame me for my equally reasonable responses.)

The hacker types (for lack of better term), often insists on certain geek ways that are often scientifically baseless and harmful. For example, the advice to swap Ctrl/CapsLock, the cry against GUI, the cry against mouse, the numerous unix slogans, the adoration of emacs, the slogan about laziness (perl), the slogan about lambda knight or adoration of lisp as god lang, usually given as dogma. Motherfaaking faakheads. For example, one slogan “Be conservative in what you send; be liberal in what you accept.” which damaged the web for 2 decade.

But what's technically wrong with swapping CapsLock with Ctrl?

Here's the deal. On a newly designed keyboard such as that TE, the position to the left of A is a top valued position. Also, notice that TE keyboard is symmetric, fixing one of the major problem of traditional keyboard. So, you have the exact same key shape of keys on the right side. You'll have 2 CapsLock, or 2 Ctrl, on both sides, symmetrically positioned.

If you are designing a new keyboard, it's great. But if you are creating workaround over standard PC keyboard, then the advice of swapping CapsLock/Ctrl is a entire new story. For example, you could swap Ctrl/Alt. The Alt is used by thumb, and available on both sides. That is immediately superior workaround on most keyboards (except laptops). There are many issues, alternatives, i've analyzed in detail in my article and i won't repeat here.

But the thing about the matherfaaking techgeekers, such as our Thad Floryan fellow here, is that they often blindly insists on hackerdom dogma.

Sure, on many situations, swapping CapsLock/Ctrl is a perfect solution. For example, on laptops. On laptops, keys are tiny, especially the Alt key, and usually they are not available no right side. The CapsLock key on laptop is a big key. It's really a great solution. But you see, tech geekers are not concerned about this. Thad, never give the qualifications about swapping CapsLock/Ctrl. Instead, they typically go like this: “I type for decades, never had problem, you should swap CapsLock/Ctrl, it's how keyboard should be, look at Sun Micro keyboards, and all the keyboard of 1920s. God designed that way. And look at vi keyboard, h j k l. emacs and vi. and IBM Model M! God says. Therefore you should. KISS.”


above is originally posted to

From:  Xah Lee
Subject:  Re: a key system to replace gnu emacs's 1000 default keybindings
Date:  Sat, 26 May 2012 15:58:04 -0700 (PDT)
User-agent:  G2/1.0