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February 21, 2008

Leaving Comments: A Beginner's Glossary to Internet Chat

Netlingo_logo_2 It's easy to forget how intimidating it can be for a reader to venture into a conversation taking place between strangers online -- especially since the other participants seem to be speaking a different language. If you're within eyesight or earshot of this blog, I want to hear from you -- and so do other readers. A lot of times, the conversations that take place within blog posts can be as enriching, if not moreso, than the post that spurred the conversation in the first place. 

What you Need to Know
For a complete list of the most common terms used in Internet (and text chat) go to NetLingo.com for acronyms and smileys and emoticons. Here's a short list to get you started:

  • @[Your Name] - Pay attention! The person leaving a comment is speaking to you.  
  • LOL - Laughing Out Loud  
  • ROFL - Rolling On Floor Laughing. Also ROTFL (Rolling on The Floor Laughing)  
  • LMAO - Laughing My Ass Off  
  • ROTFLSHCCOMNAIWEDA - Don't worry about what it means. What you need to know is that it was funny at a supernatural level. (I'll put the answer at the bottom of this post if you're really interested)
  • IOW - In Other Words
  • FWIW - For What It's Worth
  • IIRC - If I Recall Correctly
  • BTW - By the Way
  • IMO - In My Opinion. Can also be described as IMHO, or In My Humble Opinion.

The Story
Ann Handley reminded me yesterday that not everyone speaks Geek, and that one of her readers was confused when I used the term, in reply to her hilarious comment, "ROFL."

I'm an old hand at Internet chat, but I wasn't always.

I remember back in '95, I was working and going to school full-time. When I got off work, I was the only person awake, so I decided to seek some entertainment on this whole Internet thing when providers were still charging by the minute.

I logged in to a chat room where there was an ongoing discussion about "Spam." Not email spam, but the canned meat. Not having anything better to do (like, I don't know, homework), I posted a comment, (which at the time I thought was pretty clever) to this discussion.

It's really not important what the comment was. Trust me. You just had to be there.

All of the sudden, people (and there seemed to be a LOT of them) started addressing me. They were all saying "LOL, Cam... LOL Cam"

Before the book on Internet etiquette had been written, and back before it was common knowledge that USING ALL CAPS MEANT YOU WERE SHOUTING, I thought I just committed a serious faux pas.

After all, no one invited me to join this conversation. I felt like I was intruding. Mortified, I left and logged off.

It was some time after that I discovered I had no reason to feel bad.

Why It Matters
If you're a reader but aren't in the habit of joining in the conversation -- we're all missing out. I don't get to be enriched by your thoughts and passions, and because of that, it's impossible for me to better tailor my focus to serve you.

The more people who constructively participate, the more everyone profits.

So what do you have to say? I'm dying to know. :) - Cam Beck

Note: ROTFLSHCCOMNAIWEDA was an easter egg hidden in one of the early instant chat tools (Called PowWow) of the Internet. One of the features was a built-in voice synthesizer that articulated various acronyms.

For instance, when the synthesizer was activated on the recipient's computer, someone typing in the term, "LOL" actually generated a voice-synthesized, droned "Ha Ha Ha" through the recipient's speakers.

ROTFLSHCCOMNAIWEDA meant "Rolling on the Floor Laughing So Hard Coke Came Out My Nose And I Wasn't Even Drinking Any."


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That reminds me about that "easter egg" -- the flight sim that was hidden in Excel. And we wonder why software costs so much ;)

Dang! I don't have Office '97, but I would have loved to try that.

I had *never* heard ROTFLSHCCOMNAIWEDA! Guess you LSNED! (learn something new....)

: )

OK. So now for something devious. Try this. Next time you are in chat, type in some bogus acronyms. Then see who asks you what it means. Make up your own. I just think it's funny to throw stuff out there that makes no sense. Very few people even question it. They just act like they understand exactly what you are saying.
PLM - Tony

Ann and Tony - YGWYPF. :)

Two really common terms that are significant to know are:

BRB = Be Right Back

AFK = Away From Keyboard

Would be ashame if your feelings got hurt because you did not know why the person you were type chatting to did not immediately respond to you. :)

And now for my humorous entry:

"Problem Exists Between Keyboard And Chair"

This is funny unless it is your account that gets tagged with the acronym! (Like that has never happened to me.)

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