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Here we define some terms, acronyms and symbols which commonly appear on Usenet


Here are a few important Usenet terms (borrowed from the The New Hacker’s Dictionary.)

flame 1. /vi./ To post an email message intended to insult and provoke. 2. /vi./ To speak incessantly and/or rabidly on some relatively uninteresting subject or with a patently ridiculous attitude. 3. /vt./ Either of senses 1 or 2, directed with hostility at a particular person or people. 4. /n./ An instance of flaming. When a discussion degenerates into useless controversy, one might tell the participants “Now you’re just flaming” or “Stop all that flamage!” to try to get them to cool down (so to speak).


newbie /n[y]oo’bee/ /n./ [orig. from British public-school and military slang variant of `new boy’] A Usenet neophyte. This term surfaced in the newsgroup talk.bizarre but is now in wide use. Criteria for being considered a newbie vary wildly; a person can be called a newbie in one newsgroup while remaining a respected regular in another. The label `newbie’ is sometimes applied as a serious insult to a person who has been around Usenet for a long time but who carefully hides all evidence of having a clue.


troll /v.,n./ [From the Usenet group alt.folklore.urban] To utter a posting on Usenet designed to attract predictable responses or flames. Derives from the phrase “trolling for newbies” which in turn comes from mainstream “trolling”, a style of fishing in which one trails bait through a likely spot hoping for a bite. The well-constructed troll is a post that induces lots of newbies and flamers to make themselves look even more clueless than they already do, while subtly conveying to the more savvy and experienced that it is in fact a deliberate troll. If you don’t fall for the joke, you get to be in on it.


Usenet acronyms are shorthand for common thoughts:

AFAIKCR As Far As I Can Recall
AFAIK As Far As I Know
AIUI As I Understand It
BION Believe It Or Not
BTDT Been There Done That
BTW By The Way
FWIW For What It’s Worth
IIRC If I Recall Correctly
IMHO In My Humble Opinion
OTOH On The Other Hand
ROFL Roll On Floor Laughing
ROFLMAO Roll On Floor Laughing My (Arse) Off
RSN Real Soon Now
RTFM Read The (Fine) Manual
TIA Thanks In Advance


Smilies (a.k.a. “emoticons”) are symbols which help clarify your intent when you’re communicating with a person who can’t see your face or hear the tone of your voice:

🙂 Smiling (friendly)
😉 Winking (teasing)
🙁 Sad (petulant)
😛 Tongue hanging out in Anticipation