Is the SDMB stuck in the past?

I know that technically this probably belongs in “About This Messageboard”, but really, hardly anyone goes in there so I’d appreciate it if it could be left here, or at least not moved to ATMB…

OK, anyway, I’ve noticed a few things in the 2 and a bit months I’ve been posting here- none of which are really negative- but they are interesting in their own right.

The most obvious is probably the number of holdovers here from Ye Olde Days, ie back when this place was on AOL or something and nobody outside Chicago really knew who Cecil was. The most obvious are some of the rather… sod it, I will say it, nonsencial memes- “When come back, bring pie” and adding “Hi Opal!” to short lists spring readily to mind, as does the whole “Once, in 1960, for 20 minutes” thing.

Now, I’m a huge Bill Bryson fan, and whilst the fact that humankind’s first and only visit to the deepest point of the ocean was not only at a time when there was still a “Belgian Congo”, but lasted for about the same length of time as an episode of Futurama (sans advertisements) was indeed made mention of in A Short History of Nearly Everything, I’ve never quite understood how it evolved into a strange and slightly nonsensical meme on an internet discussion board.

Similarly, whilst having some (grammatically defective) reference to returning from one’s destination with various baked pastry goods may have been amusing a long time ago, surely it’s time to accept that a lot of these “in-jokes” are not only ancient, but largely incomprehensible to anyone who wasn’t posting here back when Coal Power was still pretty nifty?

The other thing that amazes me is that there’s apparently an off-site board somewhere devoted to either pointing and laughing or bitching (depending who you talk to) about the goings on here at the SDMB (apparently I’m not talking this whole “internet” thing seriously enough, it seems…), and I’m constantly amazed by these “Admin/Mods vs Posters” threads that I see- especially since 95% of the fights seem to be over incredibly trivial stuff in the first place.

Anyway, the debate (eventually!) is that while keeping hold of traditions is a good thing, is the SDMB too reliant upon things from many years ago as part of it’s identity, and if so, is that a good thing?

Answers on the back of a postcard…

You’re misinformed if you think “bring Pie” dates back to the Board’s prehistory It’s a Weebl and Bob catchphrase that isn’t Dope-specific, and only dates to 2002.

Having said that - I don’t have a problem with Dope-specific catchphrases and in-jokes, it’s part of what makes this a community and distinguishes it from other boards like SA or SkepDic or whatever your flavour of MB is.

I just wanted to add:
I joined in 2001, and at first it was a little cliquey, with the catchphrases etc, but it didn’t take long to pick up on them, and new ones have developed while I’ve been here (notably the Pie one, and the “1920s Death Ray” - possibly “I burning your dog” too). Be that as it may, knowing the Board had a history was part of what made it attractive to me - also an indication that it would be around for a long time, which is a positive feature.

Your only examples the offer in terms of “reliance on the past” are a couple of in-jokes. True a fresh in-joke might be better than a stale one, but then again, we only accept the best AND new in-jokes/words are being made all the time, so I wouldn’t say that we are only using antiquities.

Two that I can recall off the top of my head are:


We’re making the future of the English language here as well.

I don’t think the cool kids do Hi Opal! any more. Only noobs who are trying to ingratiate themselves :wink:

Anyway, thanks for explaining the “once, for 20 minutes” thing. Never knew what that was about.

I think you’ll find that most communities on the net have their own quirks and oddities of language, shared references and phrases which serve to bind the community together.

And, of course, this isn’t something specific to the internet. Communities and groups have been doing this throughout history, it’s human nature. Think of trade jargons, etc.

The specific in-terms of the SDMB are quickly and easily learned, they’re fun, and when the community tire of them, new ones will arise in their place. You can’t, nor should you try, to prevent it. As I say, it’s human nature.

And you’ll pry Hi Opal from my cold, dead hands!

Nobody outside of Chicago knew who Cecil was? Have you read any of his books or any of the columns in archives? Questions come from all over, mainly the US, but many different places. In fact Cecil wondered about the city of Baltimore since so many strange questions came from there. FTR, I got my first Straight Dope book when I was about 12 back in 1980 and I was living in Calgary.

As you can see, I have been here (not AOL) since pretty close to the begining, and if it makes you feel better I have no clue what started the whole Rio thing.

I found learning about the in-jokes highly entertaining, because the sources of the jokes were often witty, intelligent, and gut-bustingly hilarious. Then there’s the bloopers (“penis ensues”) and meltdowns (“I burning your dog!”), which are like hidden treasure. You can always start a thread to ask, and search really is your friend.

Happy and I’m smiling,

walk a mile to drink your water.

You know I’d love to love you,

and above you there’s no other.

We’ll go walking out

while others shout of war’s disaster.

Oh, we won’t give in,

let’s go living in the past.

  • Jethro Tull

One way or another, we’re all living in the past. Our memories and experiences conspire together to shape who we are and how we’ll react to things in our future.

I’m an ex-Baltimoron who first learned about Cecil in the late 70s via The City Paper. I found out about SDMB from Threadspotting and read for a year or two before joining. The inside jokes and references to other threads were originally mystifying but also attractive to me. Perhaps Martini will like these things better after he has witnessed the birth of one of these. Although it has not achieved the popularity of Og, I was present at the birth of pobe.

This joke, too, is quite recent in vintage.

Other than that, who cares? Every little community has its little in jokes. It’s hardly gotten to a l33t$p33|< level where you can’t understand people, and if you don’t like all the little cliquish group things, ignore 'em like I do. I don’t think any of this will turn off an interested new member.

“ancient” traditions from “long ago” when “coal power was nifty” 5 or 6 years ago? Lord God.

You know, some of us can remember aaalll the way back to the beginning of the internet. It was shortly after the big bang, when they still used vacuum tubes, so computers were so big you could only move them by dinosaur. My first laptop took up most of the cave. But man, was I psyched to have it. You have no idea how hard organizing human sacrifices by hand is. The high priests could be such dicks about doing it exactly on the solstice. And I don’t care what anyone says, Stonehenge just didn’t cut it in computational power.

Where was I?. At 35 the mind dodders. Oh, right. I remember Jesus and George Washington were playing Everquest (one of those early hominid games). At one point Jesus is like “WTF? LAAAG. OMG I just got ganked.” and George Washington is like “? I’m new.” And Jesus ( a really good cleric, btw) realized that technology would bring new jargon and in-jokes and that might be disorienting. So, as you know, he invented the internet with search engines, message boards and faqs so newbies could easily find out what “Hi Opal” means. It’s worked pretty well for the last 1500 years or so.

Like a mother fuck!

What’s the difference between folks quoting and requoting their favorite Monty Python lines or rewatching Marx Bros movies for the millionth time, and quoting shared Straight Dope lines of ages past?

It is bonding and sharing a past experience. Some would call it “culture”.

Gotcha Ya!

Martini -

The 1960 20 minute visit to the deep place grew out of an OP where a version of that was posted, but in which the prose was screwed up enough to be funny.

Hi, Opal! is a nod to OpalCat’s pet peeve of people creating lists with only two items. So if people only had two things to list, the third would be ‘Hi, Opal!’ OpalCat has come to hate it.

Gotcha ya! was from a thread Wildest Bill started about how he’d like to be placed in his coffin during his visitation/funeral with one hand kind of pointing up at you like he knows something you don’t - he meant to describe this pose as ‘Gotcha’ but miswrote it as ‘Gotcha ya!’

Not what you asked, but I figured if you knew, you might not care anymore.

Just for ref, in the hated ATMB where no one ever goes, there’s Beginner’s Guide to Glossary of Terms on Straight Dope Message Boards

This thread needs more Stupid Food. (ca 2006)


Alcohol Tobacco, Music, and Bosephus
Hank, why do ya drink?

(To get drunk!)

Why do you roll smoke?

(To get stoned!)

Why must you live out those songs that you wrote?

(To get fucked!)

[Grandpa Simpson] “We can’t coin catch-phrases like we used to, but we have our ways. One trick is to post stories that don’t go anywhere - like the time I logged into YMMV, which is what they called IMHO in those days. I needed a new heel for my shoe, so I decided to go to ask where everyone else got heels for their shoes. So I tied an onion to my belt, which was the style at the time. Now, to subscribe to a message board cost a nickel, and in those days, nickels had pictures of bumblebees on 'em. ‘Give me five bees for a quarter,’ you’d say. Now where were we? Oh yeah - the important thing was I had an onion on my belt, which was the style at the time. They didn’t have white onions because of the war. The only thing you could get was those big yellow ones . . .” [/Grandpa Simpson]

I assume that what Martini Enfield is worried about is the possibility that excessive use of in jokes and complaints about SDMB administration will intimidate or irritate potential new members. Don’t worry about that. Neither of those things will ruin a user’s experience; participating in the in-jokes and the bitchfests is strictly optional.

I am the living proof of this fact. I admit to a couple “Hi Opals” back in my early days, but since then I’ve ignored the in jokes and they’ve ignored me. I don’t know where the whole “I burn your dog” thing comes from, what it means, or why people use it. I’m equally clueless about “1920’s style death rays”. I’m only vaguely aware that the whole “Snakes of a Plane” business has something to do with a movie.

Similarly, I’ve never participated in whining about the administration. I don’t think I’ve ever read any thread containing such whining. I’m told that such threads exist, but why should I care? As far as I’m concerned, the administration does a great job.

So in short, neither of these phenomenon has been detrimental to my SDMB experience, and they shouldn’t ruin anyone else’s enjoyment of the board either.