Direct to you from the Jargon File:
Main Entry: cruf’ty
Inflected Form(s): noun cruft, cruftsmanship, vt.cruft together,
Etymology: English, origin unknown; poss. from ‘crusty‘ or ‘cruddy‘ *
1. Poorly built, possibly over-complex. The canonical example is “This is standard old crufty DEC software”. In fact, one fanciful theory of the origin of ‘crufty’ holds that was originally a mutation of ‘crusty’ applied to DEC software so old that the ‘s’ characters were tall and skinny, looking more like ‘f’ characters.
2. Unpleasant, especially to the touch, often with encrusted junk. Like spilled coffee smeared with peanut butter and catsup.
3. Generally unpleasant.
4. (sometimes spelled ‘cruftie’) n. A small crufty object (see frob); often one that doesn’t fit well into the scheme of things. “A LISP property list is a good place to store crufties (or, collectively, random cruft).”
ref: Jargon File* This term is one of the oldest in the jargon and no one is sure of its etymology, but it is suggestive that there is a Cruft Hall at Harvard University which is part of the old physics building; it’s said to have been the physics department’s radar lab during WWII. To this day (early 1993) the windows appear to be full of random techno-junk. MIT or Lincoln Labs people may well have coined the term as a knock on the competition.
I bring this up, because earlier this week, /. noted a post on the weblog of Matthew Thomas (a.k.a. mpt) entitled “When good interfaces go crufty.” The immediate target of this article are well established applications and operating systems that are frequently/annually upgraded without cutting away old or obsolete interface idioms. In many cases, these shameful interfaces remain in tact because “users don’t like change.” The later a screedish mantra often heard in (church) offices when one suggest switching word processor applications.
That said, as I go through the redesign of Redland Baptist, I see several instances with both the interface, AND the content have gone a bit ‘crufty.’ How about you? Is your church web site up-to-date in both the data it contains and the interface it implements, or does it suggest that you’ve been partying like it’s 1999?