Two months ago, my friend bought a new Chromebook. He told me yesterday that while he is happy with the computer overall, he's not that impressed by the quality of the keyboard. My friend is an aspiring writer, and he spends hours a day writing English-language fiction.

Here's the text he sent me:

My only problem with this computer is that the paint on the letter key I press the most is already fading away!

Then, he sent me the following photo:

My friend's keyboard.

Now I'm confused. He writes in English, and as far as I know, he's not a big fan of alliteration. Why is his "d" key the one that wore out first?

  • 7
    $\begingroup$ Is his name Donald Dudley? I'm not sure if we can really answer this without some knowledge of your friend. $\endgroup$ Apr 4 '18 at 15:08
  • 118
    $\begingroup$ And why your friend's keyboard has black dots between keys? $\endgroup$
    – Saeïdryl
    Apr 4 '18 at 15:11
  • 37
    $\begingroup$ @Saeïdryl grid illusion in real life...! $\endgroup$
    – puzzledPig
    Apr 4 '18 at 15:20
  • 41
    $\begingroup$ He plays a lot of FPS games and has a tendency to strafe to the right. $\endgroup$
    – sirjonsnow
    Apr 4 '18 at 18:05
  • 15
    $\begingroup$ Looks like the space bar is worn completely clean, though. It would make sense. $\endgroup$
    – Octopus
    Apr 5 '18 at 9:04

Maybe your friend is using

the Dvorak keyboard layout

Because then the 'D' key:

would be used to type 'E', which is likely to be the most used letter in an English text.

  • 15
    $\begingroup$ That solves it! He says he might try Colemak next so that he can get some symmetrical wear on his "K" key... $\endgroup$
    – Emory Bell
    Apr 4 '18 at 15:24
  • 78
    $\begingroup$ If he were using an alternative keyboard layout why would he care about the lettering rubbing off? $\endgroup$
    – Adam Davis
    Apr 4 '18 at 20:01
  • 8
    $\begingroup$ @AdamDavis: Maybe he cares about how it looks? Cosmetics are important too! $\endgroup$
    – Chris
    Apr 4 '18 at 22:15

Your friend does all his writing using:


He is constantly rewording sentences and editing his writing.

As such, he often uses the command dd to delete a line and dw to delete a word.

He is also quite new to editing with this software.

He doesn't know he can combine commands with a number such as 37dd to delete 37 lines or use . to repeat a command, so sometimes you see him entering commands repeatedly, EG: dddddddddddddddddddddddddddddddddddddddddddddddddddddddddddddddddddddddddd

You should really send him a command cheatsheet, so he can stop abusing his keyboard and, more importantly, his flexor tendons.

  • 9
    $\begingroup$ I think if you're writing something like 37dd, you probably mean something like dap. $\endgroup$
    – Cubic
    Apr 5 '18 at 9:01
  • 19
    $\begingroup$ @Cubic and so it begins... $\endgroup$
    – Joe
    Apr 5 '18 at 14:25
  • $\begingroup$ Which is a shame, look at that nice big Meta key he's got. $\endgroup$ Apr 6 '18 at 10:48
  • 1
    $\begingroup$ This made me laugh because I'm doing it all the time! Even if I know several shortcuts, I always find it easy to do dddddddddddddddd.... ¯\_(ツ)_/¯ $\endgroup$ Apr 6 '18 at 20:41
  • 5
    $\begingroup$ Actually, Vim users are far more likely to lose the ESC key first :-) $\endgroup$
    – user15498
    Apr 7 '18 at 9:19

Your friend can 'Touch Type'. The 'd' key is the start point for the left middle finger when touch typing. Therefore, your friend would be touching the 'd' key frequently during normal keyboard activities.

  • $\begingroup$ That's pretty good! I have almost completely rubbed the "f" and "j" nubs off on my keyboard (I type in the dark!). $\endgroup$
    – Chowzen
    Apr 4 '18 at 17:27
  • $\begingroup$ Yes, this happens to me too, and it's purely because that's the longest finger on the left hand. Strangely enough, it's the 'l' that's rubbed off on the other side, because my right hand is at a slightly different angle. $\endgroup$ Apr 5 '18 at 15:17
  • $\begingroup$ This was my thought $\endgroup$
    – Joe
    Apr 5 '18 at 18:34
  • 2
    $\begingroup$ ... except OP's friend specifically said "the letter key I press the most is already fading away" - that's different from merely touching it to keep one's hands in their home position. $\endgroup$
    – Rubio
    Apr 5 '18 at 20:55
  • 1
    $\begingroup$ @HansOlsson The question is explicitly "Why is his "d" key the one that wore out first?" and the puzzle explicitly says "the letter key I press the most" (and note does not say "letters"). A hidden assumption that pressing the key causes the fading is immaterial; the one key fading is the one key pressed most, regardless of why, and we know this because we're explicitly told that. In any case, if mere touching was cause enough, you'd expect both D and K to wear; that's not the case here. For that matter, Chowzen's comment would suggest different keys entirely, and we can see F isn't faded. $\endgroup$
    – Rubio
    Apr 7 '18 at 0:41

Your friend might be a gamer.

Gamers very likely use the WASD keys to control the movement of their game characters. And because D is controlled by the index finger, which I assume tends to be stronger than the other fingers, wore out faster.

  • 21
    $\begingroup$ Gaming? On a Chromebook? $\endgroup$
    – T.J.L.
    Apr 5 '18 at 0:39
  • $\begingroup$ @T.J.L. I heard that you can run Windows 95 in Chrome just fine. $\endgroup$
    – wizzwizz4
    Apr 5 '18 at 14:04
  • 9
    $\begingroup$ With normal usage on most games W is going first, followed by roughly equal amounts of A,D and then finally S. $\endgroup$
    – Cubic
    Apr 5 '18 at 14:57
  • $\begingroup$ @T.J.L. If it can run ECMAScript in a browser, it can game. $\endgroup$
    – Lan
    Apr 5 '18 at 19:11
  • 14
    $\begingroup$ Maybe the friend actually said he's an aspiring 'righter'. As in someone who goes right all the time. $\endgroup$
    – BenM
    Apr 6 '18 at 18:25

If he's typing in dovark then he shouldn't care if the paint goes away. Alternate hypothesis:

His "writing" is KSP movies. The chromebook isn't running chromeOS anymore but some other OS and is hosting Kerbal Space Program. The key by far the most commonly used key to get rockets into orbit is d.

  • $\begingroup$ This is completely true $\endgroup$ Apr 8 '18 at 4:43
  • $\begingroup$ Kerbal Space Program has a function to send rockets into orbit??? Didn't know that! All I found were functions to send rockets everywhere except orbit! (Not necessarily in one piece) $\endgroup$
    – Klaws
    Apr 11 '18 at 11:53
  • $\begingroup$ @Klaws: No. Flying a gravity turn requires repeatedly taping d. $\endgroup$
    – Joshua
    Apr 11 '18 at 15:00

When reading his mails, he uses "d" to delete a single mail (and the unlabelled space bar for paging within a single mail). He habitually reads his mails when he is just eating (a moment of divided attention). That can lead to greasy fingers that are particularly hard on the keyboard paint.

Yes, I know you already accepted a different answer but I find that kind of use actually impacting the keyboard and certainly the print on the keys. Though my main problem at some point of time rather were sesame seeds getting stuck below the keys, interfering with typing until you crack them using significant pressure.


Another big factor is the angle at which his nails hit the keys. The d key might be vulnerable because he was applying a nail to the top end, thereby slowly eroding it.

On my work keyboard I no longer have any visible lettering for a and s. My c is 80% gone and d about 50%. Thereafter I have only minimal damage to e and x, with the rest of the keyboard still being 100% intact.


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