Stop Saying 'It Depends on the Application'

Author: John Honovich, Published on May 15, 2013

"It depends on the application" has to be the worst saying in the industry.

It conveys no information. Worse, it is almost always delivered in a condescending, curt manner, as if the responder was somehow proving they are smarter than the questioner, without any attempt at a genuine explanation.

The reality is that people often want to understand the general principles behind a problem. People ask fundamental questions all the time - "H.264 or MJPEG?", "Should I use IP or analog?", "What's better - Genetec or Milestone?", "PTZs or Panoramics?", "Day/Night vs IR Cameras," "Static vs Dynamic IP addresses," etc., etc.

Sure, it's easy to dismiss people with a 'It depends on the application' but that's little more than thinly veiled 'screw off, dummy'.

And, yes, knowing the specific application, absolutely helps. To that end, a polite, "Can you explain more what are you trying to accomplish with [insert X - PTZs, MJPEG, Genetec, dynamic IPs, etc.]? followed by a meaningful response would help far more.

However, even without knowing an application, one can easily describe the key drivers for a technology, product or issue. For example,

"X is typically used when budget is a key factor and you are willing to give up A and B. By contrast, Y is generally preferred when A and B are important. You did not mention Z but look at that if features C or D are critical."

Such an answer allows the original questioner and other readers to simply match up those drivers to whatever application they personally have.

This approach is not new. It is the basis of education. So the next time you are tempted to say, "It depends on the application', either ask the person what their application is or explain to them the key drivers that impact selection for different applications. But, please stop thinking you are clever by delivering the worst one line in security.

See our 120+ tutorials for examples of explaining key drivers on fundamental issues.

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