If you’re like a reader who wrote me the last time we had a feature about the industry practice, you think I’m a liberal stooge for making itNational Driller policy to use frack and fracking in our pages.

I wanted to revisit the topic, since we’re writing about fracking again this month (page 10). I addressed it on my blog recently (see www.thedriller.com/blogs), but I know most people work for a living and don’t sit at the computer awaiting my next post. At the same time, I seem to get letters every time we have a big story about fracking, and I’ve never directly addressed it here.

Fracking Topic
Fracking is a big topic inside and outside the drilling industry.

What’s the Big Deal?

Industry people get alarmed by backlash against hydraulic fracturing from a public they feel doesn’t understand what the process actually is. They know that fracking is 90 percent of the reason the United States is now an energy powerhouse. They feel it’s hypocritical that people opposed to fracking drive cars that run on combustion, just like the rest of us. They know that products from sneakers to freezer bags would disappear without oil.

The person who recently wrote to me summed it up this way:

“Please don’t bow to the non-industry attempts to use their ignorance of our science and scientific techniques to co-opt everything that we have developed over decades!!”

He didn’t sign his letter, or I would credit him here because I think it’s important to have this debate.

The “big deal,” to me, is getting National Driller stories read. Yes, most of my readers are industry people. But my website is indexed by search engines just like everyone else’s. If a more positive view of the practice gets in front of even one set of eyes, that helps the industry.

How the Web Works                                            

In Google’s searches, for every 100 times someone looks for information about hydraulic fracturing, 96 people search for fracking and four people search for fracing. That’s all searchers across the world, which definitely includes scientists and geologists inside and outside the industry, tool-pushers and rig hands, and — to be fair — a lot of people opposed to fracking.

That’s a huge difference. If National Driller used frac and fracing, we would end up in a search engine ghetto where only one in 25 readers searching about hydraulic fracturing could find our stories. I don’t like those odds. Those odds don’t bode well for our stories or for the advertisers whose ads we wrap those stories around (and who pay our bills).

How Grammar Works

Aside from the Web, I have a second reason to opt for fracking over fracing. That reason — which doesn’t apply to discussions of frac versus frack — has to do with how different forms of words are built.

A word can end with a hard c sound. In that way, we can spell the word frac, and it ends up sounding like everyone uses it — rhyming with track. If I only ever used frac, I guess I’d be OK without the k at the end. But, most often, people use the word in its present participle form, with -ing on the end.

The present participle of words that end in c is formed by adding a k and then -ing. So, mimic becomes mimicking and picnic becomes picnicking and frac becomes fracking. The word demands the k in the middle of it to keep the hard c sound.

Keep It Consistent

So, I have two reasons. The Google Defense, as I’ll call the first reason, covers both versions of the word discussed here. The second reason, which I’ll call the K Defense, covers the version of the word most people use: fracking.

If you prefer frac and fracing, I respect that. But it’s my job to get my magazine read, not support “non-industry” attempts to “co-opt everything.” Just because we use the same words that 24 people out of 25 do, doesn’t mean we don’t serve the industry. We do, and that won’t change over a difference of opinion over a couple of words. Plus, if people outside the industry with questions about hydraulic fracturing search for fracking and find us, they just might learn something. To me, that’s worth putting up with the occasional k.

As for the person who took the time to write, National Driller does welcome your input. But, in this case, we have to respectfully disagree.

Thoughts? Rants? Send me an email.

Stay safe out there, drillers.