The Extremely Online Glossary of Terms, Acronyms, Rules, and Laws

Mar 22 · 11 min read

This goes out to all the ExtremelyOffline™ people. The normies. Those of you with brains that have not been melted by a lifetime of being online. If you would like a torch to guide you on your journey through the dark chasms of the Internet, read on. Perhaps you’ve been called a “chad” and thought to yourself, “but… my name is not Chad?” Maybe you were sent a link that said “NSFL” and wondered what it meant, clicked, then had your day ruined by some video of a cougar mauling a baby zebra. These things happen. You are not alone.

Below are a few brief, alphabetical lists of basic terms, acronyms, and general rules/laws that either directly or indirectly pertain to portions of Internet culture. You can now reference back here in case you stumble into confusing territory on your journey. Most of this content has originated from subcultures both on and offline, then made its way to aggregating platforms like Reddit, 4chan, Tumblr, YouTube, or Twitter, where it becomes part of the common vernacular. Some portions may seem obvious to you, while others may seem completely foreign or absurd. You will not find anything like “lol” here because if you don’t know what lol means by 2019 then you are hopeless (sorry).

I hate myself for writing these out, but on the list of things I hate myself for it still ranks pretty low, so whatever. Enjoy!

Note: if you see a term that you aren’t familiar with in the definition of another term, scroll down to find that term.

TERMS

Astroturfing: an organized effort to make a post or movement appear authentic on a given platform, whether through the use of bots, tweetdecking, or other organized groups. Example: a group of users plan to post something at once to make it appear like it’s going viral.

Autism/Autistic: a term used in both complimentary and derogatory ways to describe people who are tech-oriented, intelligent, and obsessive in a given category. It’s not politically correct, so it’s mostly used by people on anonymous platforms. Example: “that dude built his own computer, he’s so autistic.”

Bandwagoning: when a large influx of new users jump on a given topic because it’s become a hot trend, then take over discussions around it, often creating worse content for the original fan base of that topic.

Black Pill: a term commonly used among the Incel community that describes ideas such as fatalism and biological determinism, which perpetuate the notion that “the system is rigged” and there is no free will, which is the reason incels claim to be the way they are.

Brigading: a concentrated and organized effort by one group to manipulate or harass another group or individual by mass commenting.

Bump: the use of likes or comments to manipulate social media algorithms to move a post to the top of a given platform.

Bae: a pet name for someone’s significant other or crush, often used in a loose, general sense. Example: “these veggie chips are bae.”

Canceled: when a person or brand does something that the public deems “problematic” and a large portion of social media users demand they be deplatformed, lose their jobs, or just that they not be included in a given social circle anymore. This is often referred to as “cancel culture.”

Chads, Stacys, and Beckys: incels categorize certain people in subjective, often derogatory ways by labeling them with these names. For example, they call muscular, popular men as “Chads,” attractive, unattainable women as “Stacys,” and average women as “Beckys.”

Chud: an insult used by leftists directed at right-wing people or groups.

Circlejerk: when users (primarily on Reddit), engage in conversation for the sake of validating each other’s biases in a groupthink context.

Copypasta: a block of text that’s been copied and pasted over and over across platforms and time until it becomes a meme. Example: The Undertaker Threw Mankind Off Hell in a Cell.

Copystrike: a copyright strike on a platform like YouTube or Twitch, usually implemented by massive corporations like Sony or Disney toward creators for using their copyrighted music, images, and so on.

Cuck: although “cuck” has a specific sexual definition, people online use it as an insult toward a man who is desperate for acceptance, approval, and affection from women, leading to the compromise of his beliefs and values. It’s often used by conservatives or trolls when insulting progressives or moderates.

Cursed Image: a picture or video that makes little sense, has no context, and usually bad quality that you would send to someone to shock or scare them.

Dank: dank has become to mean just about anything online, but most people use it to replace words like “cool” or “sick.” Some groups call edgy, obscure, or odd memes “dank” as well.

Emoticons (Emojis): a symbol of a facial expression formed by keyboard characters and used in electronic communications. Duh.

Echo Chamber: a metaphorical description of a situation in which existing beliefs are amplified or reinforced by communication and repetition inside a closed system. Basically, most people on social media only follow people they like, which distorts their reality by keeping them in a bubble.

Facepalm: a reaction to someone saying or doing something so stupid or ridiculous that you mentally (or physically) palm your own face or forehead in disbelief.

Fair Use: the use of copyrighted material for limited and transformative purpose, such as to parody, criticize, or comment upon, which can legally be done without permission from the copyright owner. The lines are intentionally blurred in the Fair Use Doctrine, so it’s very subjective.

Filthy Casuals: a term used to describe someone who only plays video games or follows a subject matter “casually” with minimal commitment, thus isn’t regarded a real fan or member from the larger group.

Freebooting: posting other people’s original content online for personal gain, without permission of the content creator.

Flaming/Flame Wars: posting profane or offensive insults online. Some flame wars go on for years, creating rivalries between platforms and users.

Hashtag: a word or phrase preceded by a hash/pound sign (#) to identify messages on a specific topic. Duh.

Incel: a typically male person who identifies as being involuntarily celibate. Many of them have taken the “black pill” and feel screwed over by society. Because of this, they gather in online communities and often engage in controversial, abusive, and sometimes violent behaviors.

Internet Meme: an image, video, text, etc., that is copied (often with slight variations) and spread rapidly by Internet users. The term “meme” itself was coined by Richard Dawkins as an element of a culture passed from one individual to another by nongenetic means.

Internet raid: when one Internet community organizes an attack on another community.

Keyboard Warrior: someone who acts tough or expresses negative behaviors online by posting content that they wouldn’t say in real life.

Leet/Leetspeak: modified spellings and verbiage used primarily on the internet. Example: creek = cR33k

Lets Play: a video (or screenshots accompanied by text) documenting the play-through of a video game, usually including commentary by the gamer.

Lit: a term used to describe being drunk, high, or just calling something cool.

Local: someone who lives in your area, has no personality, and just blends into the background noise of life. They are often “basic” and jump on viral trends long after deep online users have beat them to death. They don’t get the culture, but think they do.

Lulz: a term derived from “lol.” Users will often say they are doing something “for the lulz”, which is like saying they just did it for a laugh, usually justifying saying or doing something wrong or inappropriate.

Lurker: a user of an Internet forum or community who does not participate in discussions, but still lurks.

Meta: when content is self-referential, creating layers of irony or absurdity.

Milkshake Duck: something that is initially seen as positive, then revealed to be flawed through back story or further content. The term was coined by user Pixelated Boat on Twitter.

Neckbeard: a man who is socially inept and physically unappealing, especially one who has an obsessive interest in computing.

Nightmare Fuel: any content that is so horrific, disturbing, or shocking, that it embeds itself in your subconscious and becomes a nightmarish fear.

Normie: a person who only uses the internet for light, mainstream usage and doesn’t understand the culture.

Phishing: attempting to retrieve private or sensitive information like passwords, credit, etc., via fake emails.

PWN: you got “owned” or “wrecked” (pwned), usually referring to video games.

Ratio’d: a disproportionate amount of comments to “likes” or “retweets,” almost always being negative or mocking.

Rationals: people who constantly post using meta rationality to the point of absurdity, usually stemming from the rational blogosphere, YouTube skeptic community, new atheists, or enlightened centrists.

Red Pill: a term originated from the movie, The Matrix, meaning to choose to be enlightened, go down the rabbit hole, or wake up in some sense to “the way things actually are,” as perceived by the person who has taken the red pill (most commonly associated with Trump supporters and men’s rights activists).

Shitposting: low quality, absurd, ironic content that often derails a conversation or topic.

Stan: an overzealous or obsessive fan of a particular celebrity, topic, or Internet personality.

Shadow banning: blocking (or partially blocking) a user from an online community that isn’t apparent to the user so they don’t know they’re banned or blocked.

Sockpuppet: an separate online identity that someone uses to deceive or manipulate people. Example: Dilbert creator Scott Adams was caught using sock puppet accounts to defend himself.

Snitch Tagging: when someone tags the person or account in a post that is talking about them.

Shipping: when you think of people in a romantic relationship, or more generally, approve of them.

Spill The Tea (Sis): when someone shares juicy gossip or drama. “T” stood for “truth” in drag culture, referring to “spilling the (t)ea”. The phrase has been popularized throughout gay communities. At some point, people started tagging “sis” onto the end of the phrase, which is obviously short for sister and originated in this modern context within urban communities.

Thirst Trap: a sexy photo (or account of photos) that’s posted for attention.

Triggered: when someone is noticeably upset or outraged from being insulted or offended. It’s also used in the context of “trigger warnings,” which warn others of sensitive topics like sexual abuse or violence that may cause some people trauma. This has been parodied and satirized heavily in comedy and conservative circles.

Trolling: posting offensive or provocative online content with the aim of upsetting someone or undermining something.

Tweetdecking: users with large Twitter followings who make money by selling retweets and form secret groups called “decks” where they all mass-retweet each other’s tweets to fake virality.

Tweetstorming: a ranting thread of tweets.

Waifu: fandom slang for a fictional character from non-live-action visual media (typically an anime, manga, or video game) that one is attracted to and considers a significant other.

Weeb: someone who devotes their life to being a fan of another culture’s trends, most commonly with non-Japanese males obsessed with Anime.

Wig: derived from drag culture, when someone snatches off someone else’s wig, you “see the truth.” This has been adopted by stan culture and is often used to mean “oh my god” or “cool.”

Yeet: this has many definitions. It could mean quickly throwing something, expressing excitement, victory, or a battle cry. YEEEEEET.

ACRONYMS AND INITIALISMS

AMA: ask me anything

DM: direct message

ELI5: explain like I’m 5

FFS: for fucks sake

FWIW: for what it’s worth

FYFY: fixed that for you

ICYMI: in case you missed it

IANAL: I am not a lawyer

IIRC: if I recall correctly

IRL: in real life

ITT: in this thread

ITAP: I took a picture

JSYK: just so you know

NPC: non playable character

NSFW: not safe for work

NSFL: not safe for life

OOMF: one of my followers/friends

OOTD: outfit of the day

OTP: one true pairing

OP: original post/poster

OC: original content

ROFL: rolling on the floor laughing

RT: retweet

/S: sarcasm

SJW: social justice warrior

SO: significant other

TERF: trans exclusionary radical feminist

TIL: today I learned

TL;DR: too long, didn’t read

RULES, LAWS, AND EFFECTS

The 1% Rule: only 1% of the users of a website actively create new content, while the other 99% of the participants only lurk.

Rule 34: if it exists, there is porn of it.

Badger’s Law: any website with the word “truth” in the URL has none in the posted content.

Cohen’s Law: Whoever resorts to the argument that ‘whoever resorts to the argument that… has automatically lost the debate’ has automatically lost the debate.

Cunningham’s Law: the best way to get the right answer on the Internet is not to ask a question, it’s to post the wrong answer.

Danth’s Law (Parker’s Law): if you have to insist that you’ve won an Internet argument, you’ve probably lost badly.

DeMyer’s Laws: an argument that consists primarily of rambling quotes isn’t worth bothering with.

Dunning Kruger Effect: a cognitive bias which people of low ability have illusory and mistakenly assess their cognitive ability as greater than it is.

Godwin’s Law: as an online discussion grows longer, the probability of a comparison involving Nazis or Hitler approaches 1.

Haig’s Law: the worse a website looks, the more likely it was made by a crazy person.

Kranzburg’s First Law of Technology: technology is neither good nor bad; nor is it neutral.

The Mandela Effect: a phenomenon in which a large number of people share false memories of past events.

Munroe’s Law: you will never change anyone’s opinion on anything by making a post on the Internet. This will not stop you from trying.

The Law of Exclamation: the more exclamation points used in an email (or other posting), the more likely it is a complete lie. This is also true for excessive capital letters.

Layne’s Law: A) every debate is over the definition of a word, B) every debate eventually degenerates into debating the definition of a word, or C) once a debate degenerates into debating the definition of a word, the debate is debatably over.

Poe’s Law: without a winking smiley or other blatant display of humor, it is utterly impossible to parody a Creationist in such a way that someone won’t mistake for the genuine article.

Pommer’s Law: a person’s mind can be changed by reading information on the Internet. The nature of this change will be from having no opinion to having a wrong opinion.

Shaker’s Law: those who egregiously announce their imminent departure from an Internet discussion forum almost never actually leave.

Sharka’s Law: on internet message boards, there is no subject so vile or indefensible that someone won’t post positively/in defense of it.

The Streisand Effect: an attempt to censor a piece of information has the unintended consequence of publicizing the information more widely.

Skitt’s Law (Murphy’s Law): any post correcting an error in another post will contain at least one error itself.

Scopie’s Law: in any discussion involving science or medicine, citing Whale.to as a credible source loses the argument immediately, and gets you laughed out of the room.

Sturgeon’s Law: 90% of everything is crap.

Wheaton’s Law (Golden Rule of the Internet): don’t be a dick.

The Wiki Rule: there’s a wiki for that.

THERE YOU HAVE IT

If you found value in this glossary, please pass it on to your conspiracy peddling uncle or essential oil peddling sister-in-law. Sharing is caring and caring is cool and everything else is hell so please enjoy the rabbit holes of Internet culture and may Cthulhu have mercy on your soul ╰( . •́ ͜ʖ •̀ . )╯

Nathan Allebach

Written by

host of the what’s really good podcast, political nerd, and social media brand shill for @steak_umm

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