Suppose you are working with a system that keeps track of edits to a file and can show you a list of the versions. In this system, available actions are shown following each version, e.g.:

3 Edited  date/time by  whoever  [Edit/Delete]
2 Edited  date/time by  whoever  [Edit/Delete/Rollback]
1 Created date/time by  whoever  [Edit/Delete/Rollback]

One of the functions the system supports is reverting to an earlier version, this is done by clicking on the "rollback" action listed after earlier versions. So if a file is reverted, the list would look like this:

4 Reverted to version #2  date/time by  whoever  [Edit/Delete]
3 Edited  date/time by  whoever  [Edit/Delete/Rollback]
2 Edited  date/time by  whoever  [Edit/Delete/Rollback]
1 Created date/time by  whoever  [Edit/Delete/Rollback]

Is this use of "rollback" confusing or incorrect?

It seems to me it would be more accurate if the action were labelled "rollback to this version." "Rollback" by itself sounds like it's an action that should be performed on the current version to roll it back to an earlier one.

In fact, the system that prompted this question is the Revisions page that exists for any post that's been edited on a StackExchange site. It seems slightly confusing to use "rollback" as shorthand for "roll back to this earlier version."

2 Answers 2


The link is for an action and if anything I'd say should be labelled as a verb roll back rather than as a noun rollback.

Compare to verb log in and noun login. You click log in to log in with your login.

I don't think this rollback is particularly confusing or out-and-out misleading, but it would be clearer as a roll back.

  • 2
    You're my hero, Hugo! It drives me nuts when people freely interchange log in and login. I totally agree that the option should be roll back (verb). Good job! Sep 29, 2012 at 15:20

If it were only used in a single instance, out of context, it might be confusing. But as it is part of a user-experience system that to some extent has to be learned, it is clear enough. Any domain is likely to have specialized uses of words that may appear unfamiliar to outsiders.

If you have a real issue with the terminology, you should take it up on meta.stackoverflow.com. I doubt you will get any traction there, though.

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