My web application has various types of objects the user can interact with (projects, items, features, devices, kind-of-device, files, ect). They can delete these objets, however it's a soft delete so it's really just hidden. In the setting page, a checkbox allows them to see deleted objects.


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The problem is that users are confused by the term "object". "Entities" didn't have any success either. I also tried "items" but users then though it was going to show deleted settings in the settings page. Since my application use various disparate kinds of objects, there's no domain-specific overarching word. Any idea?

  • "Stuff"? - Rather than "deletion" i would probably have switched to a "trashcan" model where things can be put in the trashcan and you can then view the contents of the trashcan May 19, 2016 at 15:31

2 Answers 2


Don't limit yourself to one word

There are lots of instances where less is more, but in this case, you're partially creating the problem by looking for just one word, especially when you've shown through research that the word doesn't exist.

If this was a button, the argument would be different, but it's an instructional string in a settings panel - you've got a little room to play around.

Choose 2-3 representative words

I'd go with something like:

[] Show deleted projects, devices, files, etc.  
  • That's so simple and effective I can't believe I didn't think about it. I prefer this to the proposed trashcan model as a deleted object can still be in use somewhere else (i.e. if I delete "serial printer", the serial printers still exists however the type cannot be used anymore).
    – 0xFF
    May 19, 2016 at 16:46
  • Yeah, answers here often take the form of "you should use a completely different model/metaphor", and don't take practical context into account. In any case, your feature is closer to the concept of showing/hiding hidden files (in an OS or on a server). I just took a quick look and Windows uses the wordy approach too - "Show hidden files and folders".
    – dennislees
    May 19, 2016 at 16:55

Instead of referring to the objects themselves perhaps you could circumvent the problem by having a "trashcan" or "recycle bin". It is a common concept used on various operating systems and in this way you can give the user control of what they retrieve from the deleted state.

To be fair, if you delete something from an application, the most common method of retrieving it is likely to be an undo function, something akin to pressing ctrl+z or cmd+z, rather than finding this in a settings panel.

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