Beginner's Guide to Glossary of Terms on Straight Dope Message Boards

There are a number of terms commonly used on the Straight Dope Message Boards, that are basically “in-jokes” or references.

There are several threads listing such, I have tried to compile them all into one post here. If anyone has additions or corrections, please email me – I’m going to keep this locked, so it doesn’t become too long and rambling, but remains fairly focused and easy to use. I have taken these descriptions from various threads and posts by various members. This thread isn’t updated regularly, so some of these may have fallen from use. NOTE: When we update this vocabulary from time to time, additions will be highlighted in blue for a few months, so readers can know what’s been added.

I have excluded common abbreviations on the net, such as:
AFAIK = As Far as I know
ETA: - Edited to add:
IANAL or IANA lawyer (“I am not a lawyer;” also used as in IANA doctor, plumber, pharmacist, etc.)
IIRC = If I recall correctly
IMHO for “In my humble opinion” – which is also the name of one of our forums
nm = “never mind,” usually when someone has edited out their own post
A list of common net abbrevs is found here: Netlingo: Acronyms and shorthand

Perfect Master – the title for Cecil Adams. If you don’t know who Cecil Adams is, read the FAQ on our Homepage: Frequently (and forgotten) Asked Questions.
TMI for “Too much information,” used when a person has told way, way, way more than other people want to know.
WAG (“wild assed guess”)
YMMV (“your mileage may vary”)

All your ____ are belong to us - originally “All your base are belong to us”, a bit of fractured Engrish originally from the video game Zero Wing, which became famous in a flash animation in early 2001. This isn’t unique to Straight Dope Message Boards. See Wikipedia or any one of a zillion other websites that refer to this.

AMA stands for “Ask Me Anything”, usually used as “AMA about [topic],” in a thread title when the person starting the thread has expertise in that topic and is willing to return to the thread often to answer questions.

Chick Tracts – Chick tracts are small, comic-book style pamphlets expounding fundamentalist Christian doctrines as imagined by one Jack T. Chick. They are referenced and ridiculed routinely on the SDMB.

Cornfield – Posts that are deleted or hidden from view are often said to be wished away to the cornfield, or cornfielded. The phrase comes from the old Twilight Zone episode “It’s A Good Life”.

Coventry – This is not as widely used as “cornfield”, but you may see threads or posts that have been deleted or hidden referred to as being sent to Coventry. This refers to a short story called Coventry by Robert Heinlein, though technically it’s an old British phrase that pre-dates that. In the story, Coventry was a place of exile.

D&R – “Ducking and Running,” used at the end of a post, usually signifying a really awful pun.

Gaudere’s Law – Named after the Administrator Gaudere, her law states that any post criticizing a previous post’s grammar or spelling will itself have a grammatical or spelling error.

References to goats or felching – nasty (really disgusting) sexual practices.

The Grapist or To Grape – There was a poster (quickly banned) called “The Grapist” who would repost other people’s posts and color them purple. The name originated from an Onion article about unpopular McDonald’s characters.

Hi, Opal – Back when SDMB was a feature of AOL rather than a separate website, OpalCat complained that a list truly ought to have at least three items in it, and people were using the list function for things which only have one or two items. Someone posted a list of only two items shortly thereafter and added “3. Hi, Opal!” to it – the gimmick caught on, and has become a SDMB cliché ever since. (It should be noted that “cliché” means this expression has out-worn its humor by now, and is viewed as trite and not often used currently. It now may also be considered in bad taste since Opal passed away in 2013.)

I Burning Your Dog – This strange little phrase came from a rather surreal thread called “The rock in the box: I burning your dog.” It became an inside joke, and still shows up from time to time, typically as faux anger.

Invisible Pink Unicorn – The Invisible Pink Unicorn is the second of the SDMB deities (Cecil being the first), though not original to us. It is often referred to in Great Debates along these lines: 'There is as much evidence for God as there is for the Invisible Pink Unicorn."

Junior Modding – When someone who is not a moderator asserts that something is a violation of SDMB rules. This usurps the role of moderators, who are the arbiters of rules and posting standards on the SDMB. At one end, “junior modding” is annoying and arrogant; at the other end, it’s a rules violation and warnable offense. (There are forms of “junior modding” that are helpful, such as making helpful suggestions to new posters, for example.) NOTE: If you see what you think is a rules violation, don’t make the judgement call yourself, but REPORT the post to a Moderator.

MMP – Monday Morning Post. One of our posters used to do a rambling thread every Monday morning. I don’t know why he or she isn’t doing them anymore, but others have been stepping up to continue the tradition. Sometimes “Guest MMP” or “Member MMP”

Mod Hats – Occassionally, a moderator enjoys getting involved in discussions as a participant. To distinguish when a moderator is making a formal statement based on the rules from his/her own personal opinions, he/she “puts on the Moderator’s Hat” to do the former, and so distinguishes the roles. (This is a custom elsewhere on the net, as well.)

MPSIMS – Renamed to “Miscellaneous and Personal Stuff I Must Share” Mar 31, 2023. It was “Mundane Pointless Stuff I Must Share”. The name of one of the forums on the SDMB, although topics are not limited to the mundane or the pointless. The forum description says, “For general discussion: from frivolous chatter to deep thoughts; from harmless diversions to life-changing announcements.”

1920s Style Death Ray – Former member Dogface used this startled exclamation (repeatedly) in the midst of a discussion of “scalar weapons” that was probably the longest GQ thread ever.

NSFW or NSFWP – “Not Safe For Work” or “Not Safe for Work Place” refers to material that is of a mature nature. This could apply to sexual content, bad language, adult situations, depictions of violence, etc. In other words, if your boss happened by and saw you looking at this instead of working, he/she would NOT be pleased. Generally, we require that such sites NOT be reachable by an accidental click: we don’t mind people viewing such sites intentionally, but we want to prevent getting there inadvertently. (Murphy’s Law: if, when at work, you accidentally click on a url that gets you to a website with a picture of a naked TV star, that’s the exact moment that your boss will walk by.) So, if you want to provide a link to a picture that’s not safe for work, easiest is to use the tags [Detail] and [/Detail] so that the link can’t be reached accidentally. Change “Summary” to “NSFW image”.

Penis ensues – originally a typo, for “panic ensues.” Used for… well, just about anything.

Og Variants include Og smash! and similar – One of the SDMB board deities. Og first surfaced as the result of a typo, from a former board contributor who misspelled the word “of” and typed “Jesus is the Son og God.” Hilarity ensued.

OP – “Original Post,” meaning the post that started a thread. It is sometimes used to refer to the original poster (the person who started the thread.) Nothin’ like a little ambiguity in what it means.

Overlords, as in “I, for one, welcome our new <whatever> overlords” – makes reference to the Simpson’s episode Deep Space Homer, in which news anchor Kent Brockman mistakenly believes that giant ants will take over the Earth after Homer accidentally breaks an ant farm aboard the Space Shuttle.

To Pit – To rant on a subject in The BBQ Pit. (Probably obvious, but the verb form is used so commonly here that it’s worth specifying.)

RO – “Recreational Outrage” describes when a poster expresses righteous indignation and gets highly worked up (outraged) over some issue, typically some news occurrence that is completely irrelevant to the person’s own life and has no effect on that poster personally. The poster derives (recreational) satisfaction from expressing outrage and moral indignation, frequently including a sense of moral superiority, thus differentiating Recreational Outrage from other forms of outrage.

SDSAB –- As a title under someone’s name, this honorific means membership in the Straight Dope Science Advisory Board. These are the people who write Staff Reports on a regular (or reasonably regular basis) and sometimes assist Cecil with research… such as, allowing themselves to be bit by mosquitoes. Staff Reports (formerly called “Mailbag”) are found in the section of the Website called ARCHIVES.

Sealioning –- Sealioning is a type of trolling or harassment that consists of pursuing people with persistent requests for evidence or repeated questions, while maintaining a pretense of civility and sincerity. It may take the form of incessant, bad-faith invitations to engage in debate. The term originated with a 2014 strip of the webcomic Wondermark by David Malki.

SFW = “Safe for Work” (See NSFW above, “Not Safe for Work”)

Sock or sock puppet –- When a poster sets up an alternate username (in violation of SDMB rules), usually for nefarious reasons. The original use was when a person registered multiple times to debate with himself (or more likely, agree with himself in a debate.) It is now also used to refer to situations when a poster was banned but tries to sneak back in under a secret identity. Note that, under SDMB rules, a person may have only one user name; having multiple usernames is a bannable offense.

Threadshitting – basically, shitting on a discussion, by belittling the topic or the people discussing it. It typically takes the form of a dismissive comment, like “Who cares?” or “This is stupid!” or similar. The implication of the threadshitter is that discussion of such a topic is beneath them, and should be beneath everybody else. If you really do think that a discussion is inane or pointless, the appropriate thing to do is to not participate in it. And, of course, if you see someone threadshitting, please do not respond with personal insults or accusations: instead, REPORT the post to a Moderator.

Trainwreck – A thread that goes horribly wrong. A topic becomes derailed, and the OP and trailing posters become a tangled mess. Accusations fly and feelings are hurt. The trainwreck causes bystanders to stop by and gawk, worsening the disaster. If you see this kind of behavior, please REPORT the post to a Moderator.

Trock - A serial sock and troll. We have several of these. Some have been with us for many years.

Troll – This is general internet usage for “somebody who is posting just to be confrontational or to raise hackles.” See Staff Report: What is a troll?.

Related term: DNFTT – “Do Not Feed The Trolls.” A troll doesn’t care what response they get – anger, hostility, sarcasm, it doesn’t matter. Any response “feeds” them; they get their jollies from provocation. If you don’t feed them, they will get bored and go away. Arguing with a Troll, making fun of them, responding to them in any way is equivalent to “feeding” them.

NOTE:It is against Straight Dope Message Board policy to accuse someone of trolling outside the BBQ Pit forum. See, the accusation of trolling is “feeding” them – it’s responding to them. The best response is silence. If you see behavior that you believe is trolling, do not respond in the thread – instead, report the post to the Moderators. Let them handle it. (The exception: Calling someone a troll permitted in the BBQ Pit forum, but please be aware that it’s not really an accusation that will be taken seriously by moderators unless you report it.)

Two-Click Rule – (See NSFW) Our rule stating that a single mouseclick should never cause anything not safe for work to appear on the screen. Thus, one way to avoid that is to set up a situation where two clicks are needed to get to the NSFW picture – that is, first click leads to webpage 1 and then second click from webpage 1 leads to webpage 2 which contains NSFW pics. Other methods include use of spoiler tags, noparse tags, or breaking the link.

When come back bring pie – The phrase originated when a Doper posted a link to this Weeble and Bob episode. It also spawned “mmmmmm! pie.” What does it all mean? Damned if I know.

Whoosh – The sound of something going over another person’s head. Usually used when someone posts a serious (often outraged) reply to a joke. The verb form is to say that the person has “been whooshed.”

Winter of Our Missed Content – The boards forced to shut down in the early months of 2002. When life was restored in March 2002, several months’ worth of posts (December 7, 2001 until March 10, 2002) were lost and not archived. Sometimes this is called the diaspora.

Zombie – A zombie is an old thread that had ceased activity for some time (was dead), but has now been revived by a new post (was brought back to life like a zombie).