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The jargon used to describe Internet fora and online discussions such as Blogs and forums. While some concepts overlap with Tropes, on TV Tropes we do not usually catalogue this terminology in the form of individual articles but only as a large glossary. For TV Tropes-specific terminology, see TV Tropes Glossary. Some concepts discussed here are also mentioned by Flame Warriors.

Forum terms with their own pages:

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A user is banned when the authorities of a website or social media platform prohibit them from contributing, usually by software means. This is usually due to breaking the rules or being an unpleasant person to be around, but in some places, users can be banned on a whim, for rules they weren't aware of, or even based on a false accusation. Some moderators just have an itchy trigger finger. Others are paranoid of Sock Puppets and will ban anyone who resembles a particularly nasty user. Still others say it's much easier to deal with problematic users preemptively than to wait until they make a mess and clean up after them. Not everyone who is banned will automatically know why their account was suspended, and many will assume it was someone else's mistake.

Regardless of whether or not the ban was justified, the best way to handle the situation is usually to step back, look at the rules, look at your behaviour, and then find one of the site's managers and politely ask what you did wrong. Maybe it was a genuine misunderstanding. Maybe your lack of experience unwittingly made you look like a previous rule-breaker. Maybe you can convince them that you understand what you did wrong and you won't do it again. Even though real spammers, trolls, and scoundrels usually protest their innocence, talking it out is still the best way to resolve the problem.

Indeed, right here on This Very Wiki, if you find yourself banned or suspended, we have a designated place to talk it out with the staff: the Edit Banned thread. First, though, check out What to Do If You Are Suspended.

"Blogosphere" is the term for the interconnections between all the various blogs that exist on the internet. The name was originally coined as a joke, but the joke became so popular that many (especially in the Old Media) mistook it for a real word and began using it in complete seriousness. Memetic Mutation at its finest.

The new, irony-free definition of blogosphere implies a view that no blog is an island: all of them are as part of a massive online community. Or at least that blogs on closely related topics share many of the same readers, so that there is a comics blogosphere, a Boise, Idaho dining blogosphere, rival liberal and conservative blogospheres, etc.

Whether or not the blogosphere can be meaningfully defined as a distinct subset of the internet depends on how well one can draw the distinction between Blogs and regular old webpages.

    Browser Narcotic

A browser narcotic is a website that uses up hours of your time with little effort. Like This Very Wiki, which is well known for its capacity to ruin your life. Unlike an Archive Binge, which is linear in nature, a browser narcotic allows you to go in any number of directions, often ending up on a Wiki Walk. The defining feature of a browser narcotic is the tab explosion, a browser with Eleventy Zillion tabs open at once.

The name comes from xkcd, specifically the Alt Text of this comic, which explicitly describes TV Tropes as an example.

Here are some other offenders aside from TV tropes:

    Celebrity Blog 
Generally, it happens like this: A well-known (or under-the-radar) celebrity gets an e-mail from his publicist telling him how he should make a blog to boost his sagging reputation. Said celeb decides to try it for a while, but is never really into it, and eventually it fades into the ether.

Sometimes, of course, the celeb is absolutely into it, and these tend to drift into other types of blogs.

Other times, the publicist insists on Astro Turfing the blog by posting as the celeb, turning it into a Flog.

Some celeb blogs achieve cult status among the geekery (the most famous of course being WWDN).

    The Database Hates Me 
You have just finished writing an article. More specifically, it is the masterpiece that TV Tropes has been waiting for. When you suggested the idea in Trope Launch Pad, the number of replies was astonishing. Seriously, this article would move any troper to tears. it's so good!

But, being the savvy troper that you are, you know better than to just go submitting it without a care in the world. You smite the Data Vampires, because right as it is about to send, you press the refresh button with lightning fast reflexes, saving your trope entry from a terrible, untimely demise.

...or so you think, as right as you have hit that refresh key, you see the following message:

"The database hates you right now. The entry might exist or it might not exist. We would clear this mystery up for you, if we could get to the database. We tried to look it up, but the database puked up an error."

What happened? Surely this can't be right! After all, you took every step to stop the Data Vampires in their tracks! Well, unfortunately for you, you have not met the Data Vampires, you've met the database, and it hates you.

We're sure you're a very nice person but the database doesn't think so. Never mind the more probable impossible answer that TV Tropes is glitching, because TV Tropes is perfect and does not malfunction. You can't get to this page because you suck. It's that simple.

But to avoid this sort of thing, write your article in Notepad or TextEdit before sending, or at least copy and paste your hard work before pressing 'save'.

Derailing is when a discussion goes off on a tangent, a subject irrelevant to the main point of the discussion. Sometimes it's done by accident; other times, it's done deliberately by a Troll. Like a train leaving its tracks, it's difficult to get back on track again. That's why forums tend to have strict rules about staying on topic.

Not every change in topic is a derail; conversations do drift naturally. Consider, for instance, a conversation about pit bulls, in which someone brings up the perception that they're dangerous animals. A shift to a discussion about animal fights in general is natural. A post of a graphic image of a pit bull mating with a Chihuahua is a derail; it's abrupt, not a natural outgrowth of the prior conversation, and only serves to change the subject. However, the stricter forums might consider both instances against the rules, just to ensure that everyone can follow the conversation.

Trolls will often derail a conversation by attacking someone or something, forcing the other users to defend themselves or their ideas. They like to rely on Misplaced Nationalism, Ad Hominem attacks, Victim-Blaming, and whataboutism, which usually require a response unrelated to the topic at hand. Nazi comparisons are akin to blowing up the railway bridge, dropping the train into the sea, and then pissing on it. Threats are also an effective way to derail a thread, shifting the discussion to dealing with the threat; many forums take a hard line on threats and will issue an immediate ban for them, and if they seem credible they may even contact local law enforcement. A less inflammatory but no less effective way to derail a thread would be to become a Left Fielder.

Here on this wiki, we deal with derailment by thumping, our method of removing a post. The post is still there, but its content is replaced with a message that the post was thumped. It's usually self-explanatory (and you're free to ask a mod about it in case it's not). Users whose posts are thumped are given a PM about it, and accumulating several thumps can lead to a suspension.

See also Change the Uncomfortable Subject, which is an attempt to do this in a real life conversation, usually without the sheer disruption of the Internet equivalent.

A doublepost is a comment that's accidentally been added twice in succession. It's usually a result of a software bug; often, a new post is slow to show up due to server lag, so the user thinks it didn't go through and makes it again. Or maybe there's a bug when the user clicks "Add Post" a few times too many. This kind of thing is especially common on Usenet, where the nature of NNTP sometimes causes a substantial lag in the propagation of new posts.

In some cases, forums will allow users to delete the last post they made, specifically to combat the doublepost. In most others, the common response is to edit the second post to read something along the lines of "doublepost, mods plz delete". Even if it's not deleted, veteran forumgoers can mentally skip over posts like this, and the conversation can continue as normal. At most places, you won't get into trouble for doubleposting, but if you do it too often, you might be mistaken for a Spammer.

In some cases, doubleposting is done deliberately. For instance, some places don't allow you to edit your post (or may require you to be a prolific user before you can do it), meaning that if you wanted to correct something, you have to post again with your correction. The less savvy forumgoers will also do it just to add something to their previous comment. In other cases, there's a long period of time between the two posts, and the last post is repeated by someone wishing to "bump" the thread to the top of the list. Forums with strict limits on the number of characters or images per post might also see "doubleposting" with a single long comment spread out over multiple posts.

A doublepost is a comment that's accidentally been added twice in succession. It's usually a result of a software bug; often, a new post is slow to show up due to server lag, so the user thinks it didn't go through and makes it again. Or maybe there's a bug when the user clicks "Add Post" a few times too many. This kind of thing is especially common on Usenet, where the nature of NNTP sometimes causes a substantial lag in the propagation of new posts.

In some cases, forums will allow users to delete the last post they made, specifically to combat the doublepost. In most others, the common response is to edit the second post to read something along the lines of "doublepost, mods plz delete". Even if it's not deleted, veteran forumgoers can mentally skip over posts like this, and the conversation can continue as normal. At most places, you won't get into trouble for doubleposting, but if you do it too often, you might be mistaken for a Spammer.

In some cases, doubleposting is done deliberately. For instance, some places don't allow you to edit your post (or may require you to be a prolific user before you can do it), meaning that if you wanted to correct something, you have to post again with your correction. The less savvy forumgoers will also do it just to add something to their previous comment. In other cases, there's a long period of time between the two posts, and the last post is repeated by someone wishing to "bump" the thread to the top of the list. Forums with strict limits on the number of characters or images per post might also see "doubleposting" with a single long comment spread out over multiple posts.

"You got to love an encyclopedia that has a longer article for the lightsaber than they do for the printing press."
Stephen Colbert (No longer true, by the way.)

Fannage is a wiki phenomenon where things relating to pop culture get more attention than mundane topics, even if the more mundane topics are more relevant to real life. It gives generalised wikis like Wikipedia a poor reputation by making their userbase look like a bunch of hopeless nerds who prioritise fiction over reality.

But this generally isn't considered a bad thing in itself. First, you can always ignore wiki pages that don't interest you. Second, every topic will benefit from having contributors who know the subject extremely well. Third, having fun stuff on the wiki will attract more people and encourage them to work on the more mundane stuff. But the danger occurs when topics with high amounts of Fannage attract a large pool of unskilled editors. These guys have bad habits of obsessive editing, promoting Fanon, poor writing style employing lots of Weasel Words, and an obsession with categorisation — every episode and character needs to have their own page. To the extent that these guys edit the pages on mundane stuff, they take their bad habits with them.

Wikipedia's extensive fannage is famous, what with its ridiculously detailed television synopses (even the ones with Negative Continuity). Although it's frowned upon there, it's tolerated through the sheer persistence of the editors. People will complain that the $12,000 funding drives seem to be going mostly to rewriting the Star Wars Expanded Universe in encyclopedia form. Fannage also overlaps extensively with what Wikipedia calls Fancruft, where articles for mundane things are injected with the subject's appearances in popular culture; Wikipedia is less tolerant of this and will boot such users to the myriad of other wikis that exist for documenting those things.

TV Tropes itself mostly runs on fannage, but even here, we get our own version of it with specific works being massively overrepresented compared to others. We've catalogued some of them in Trope Overdosed.

    First Post 

On large platforms, there is often a race to be the first to post a comment in a new thread, article, or video, even if you don't have anything to contribute to the topic at all. The only thing you have to say is that you were the first to say something.

This has now become an Internet tradition, even though it can get annoying real quickly. Many places discourage it and will just delete such posts on sight, including here at TV Tropes. Fortunately, they're easy to spot, and accordingly easy to zap. Some places even do it automatically, with software.

Other places have some fun with the phenomenon, such as the Daily Kitten's use of the term "Pounce!" Places like 4chan, never particularly content with "rules" and "moderation", will have long tangents based simply on the response to the contentless first post. Fark is probably the most prolific at having fun with it, employing a word filter to change "first post" to "Boobies" and "first comment" to "Weener", which has the added benefit of causing some ribbing if you actually use the word "boobies". If Fark detects these terms in the actual first post of a given thread, it will also move the timestamp to 12 hours into the future, which for many threads means it will be the last post in the thread.

Parodied in this video. See also Me Too! and IBTL.

A blog that seems to be written by a real person, but is in fact a vector employed by an advertising agency, PR firm or corporate marketing department. Invariably waxes over-enthusiastically about a product, service or company, particularly something brand new and/or trying to increase its market penetration.

Almost always a tool for astroturfing.

The term — which has been seen in mainstream publications like The New York Times as of December 2006 — is believed to be a blend of "fake" and "blog", but also evokes the verb "to flog" in the sense of "to make a sales pitch". It may also refer to the term 'flack' as a name for a person with a journalism degree who specializes in PR.

As of December 12, 2006, the U.S. Federal Trade Commission has begun a serious investigation of so-called "word of mouth" advertising campaigns, which will include flogs among its targets.

Not to be confused with the 'flog' that means Freenet blog. For the act of flagellation, commonly known as "flogging", see A Taste of the Lash. Also not to be confused with "The Flog" by Felicia Day (a blend of "Felicia" and "vlog") or the Australian slang term for a useless person.

    Garbage Post Kid 
"Today, I could take a photo of my butt and put it online within five seconds, and while this is objectively a good thing (at least in my case, because I have a sweet butt), it comes with the side effect of making trolls lazier. Most raids now involve flooding sites with gore, porn, or various combinations of both. While you can't argue with the effectiveness of this method, there's zero effort there. Where's the love for the craft? What amusing story did you get out of this experience that you'll tell your grandchildren eventually?"

The Garbage Post Kid is a kind of Troll who delights in posting offensive and inflammatory text and punctuating them with vomit-inducing pictures and links to Shock Sites. They usually have a personal beef with a specific group member or community and will flood their topics with all the filth the 'Net can offer. If their beef is with a single person, they usually don't care about ruining the day (or constitution) of the many other innocent posters on the board, so long as that one guy knows they can't run or hide.

Naturally, the GPK is one of the most egregious Internet personalities. They're known for their persistence, posting voluminous amounts of bile and being very hard to shake. Sometimes it can take hours for the mods to clean up the sewage they leave behind; in extreme cases, the entire forum may need to be temporarily shut down.

The name comes from the Garbage Pail Kids, a 1980s gross-out trading-card parody of the Cabbage Patch Kids toyline that depicted some truly disturbing imagery.

Just an average day out on the Internet.

The Greater Internet Fuckwad Theory, or "GIFT"note , is an explanation of why people who are quite "normal" in person become anti-social Internet Jerks when they're online. The "GIFT equation" was first formulated by Penny Arcade and goes like this:

"Normal Person + Anonymity + Audience = Total Fuckwad".

This phenomenon has been studied academically, albeit under the less-colorful name of the online disinhibition effect. By all accounts, the comic's satirical analysis is spot-on; normal people become more aggressive when they think their behavior carries no real-world social consequences. They think that The Internet makes them anonymous, and they can thus behave as shamelessly and self-servingly as they always wanted, because they'll never have to answer their parents, spouses, teachers, employers, or challengers. (This isn't always true, by the way.)note  It's related to the phenomenon of Bathroom Stall Graffiti; they'd never do it in their own bathroom, but they'll happily do it in a public place when they think no one is looking and they don't have to clean it up. The whole phenomenon was identified by Plato in The Republic, where he recounts the myth of the the Ring of Gyges, one of the original Invisible Jerkass stories.

Sadly, this leads to a culture of cyberbullying on the Internet. Without any real consequences, people realise they can say anything they want, and as such, they revel in saying the most hurtful and disgusting things, regardless of whether they even believe those things (much less whether they're true or false), probably for the thrill of seeing the damage they can do when people take their words seriously. At least one psychology paper posited that anonymity makes the Internet particularly attractive to narcissists, sociopaths, and sadists, who enjoy seeing others suffer. And since there are a lot of children and teenagers on the Internet, who are particularly vulnerable to cyberbullying, the Internet becomes a playground for these people.

The rise of social media networks like Facebook and Twitter/X is forcing some reevaluation of this theory, though. People have been found to be just as obnoxious, rude, bigoted, and abusive while posting under their real identity as they would be if they were anonymous — in fact, there are studies suggesting that legal-name environments might be worse than true anonymity, while the most civil spaces are those with "stable pseudonyms" (i.e, user handles such as those on This Very Wiki). This means it's not really the anonymity that drives the phenomenon; it's the lack of consequences. Turns out people will rarely get thrown off a social media site for noxious behaviour, nor will most people's teachers or employers scour their social media accounts — sites which use pseudonymous handles, on the other hand, are usually willing to ban the trolls. The only real threat to a legal-name-based identity in this case is the Internet Detective, who will trawl basically anyone's social media history to look for something even slightly objectionable, and the prevalence of GIFT provides them with some positive reinforcement.

See also Invisible Jerkass, Jerkass Dissonance, Loss of Inhibitions and Mask of Confidence.

    Hit-and-Run Poster 
The hit-and-run poster is the least dedicated breed of Troll. They'll make a single provocative comment and then leave, never to be seen again. Sometimes they lose interest, sometimes they're content with just knowing someone is likely pissed off, but often they're smugly watching the backlash from the safety of their own computer, refusing to give the other party the satisfaction of a response.

On wikis, the term refers to someone who makes a single edit to the wiki and never responds to requests for clarification of what they did. The Other Wiki has a whole article on the phenomenon. Here on TV Tropes, though, we call this a Drive-By Updater.

    Hot Linked 
An item on one web-service that is requested by another web-service, usually an image. This isn't when an image is actually a potholed link.

This is not only impolite (it eats up your victim's bandwidth), it's almost always a really bad idea. A hot linked item may have been removed by the original host (this is a big problem with YouTube links). The original host can be undergoing a performance problem. The original host may have changed its linking policy. The original host may no longer exist... The list of possible badness goes on and on.

Luckily, this Wiki provides a way for people to upload images that skips a lot of those badnesses. See the Media Uploader on the Tools menu.

See Hotlinked Image Switch for another reason not to hotlink to images on this wiki.

Short for "In Before the Lock", a contentless post (like First! or Me Too!) made for two purposes: to predict that the thread will soon be locked, and to inflate one's post count. It's usually seen in a very contentious thread that's either devolved into such bickering that it's unsalvageable, or is relatively new but can't reasonably go anywhere other than unsalvageable bickering.

It's a relatively useless post for pretty much every purpose. If they're right, the thread is about to be locked anyway, so no one's going to read the comment. If the thread is deleted, "IBTL" doesn't even count for their post tally. And since it's not seen very often, it's not a great way to signal that the thread is headed for lockable territory, as a sizeable number of readers aren't going to get it. It's usually frowned upon in much the same way as "First!", but since most threads that get this treatment are doomed anyway, it's less likely any action will be taken.

Implonkus is that feeling you get when you make an effort to write a good post — correct spelling, correct grammar, actual organisation of thoughts, perhaps even writing a draft and working on it — only for the first response to be festooned with Rouge Angles of Satin, Emoticons, and Leet Lingo. It's quite a letdown to realise that you're the only one who actually cares enough about the topic to make an effort to have an intelligent conversation about it.

First coined on HBO's forum for The Sopranos, the term is a Portmanteau of "impetus" and "plonk", the latter a Usenet onomatopoeia for the notional sound made when someone is "killfiled", a reference to a Usenet-era ignore list.

    Internet Cold Reader 
"What proof is there that [Hitler] is an atheist? In Mein Kampf, he actually seems to be a believer."
"I'm sure you are against classroom prayer and homeschooling as well, just like Hitler."
— Two editors of Conservapedia have a reasoned exchange of opinions

The Internet Cold Reader is a particularly annoying online persona who subjects other users to Cold Reading. He'll read a four-sentence post and use it to deduce your life story, psychology, politics, and religious views, and then use that as a basis for their argument. Sometimes they'll invite you to correct them; more often than not, they won't.

To give a hypothetical example:
You: I didn't think Twilight was too bad, if you don't think too hard about it.
Internet Cold Reader: Ah! Obviously, you are a closet misogynist who thinks that every woman needs to find a perfect, godlike, sparkling man to obey absolutely! Also, you probably also have anti-intellectual leanings and feel threatened by the idea that there might be such a thing as quality literature outside of your little bubble.

Most Internet Cold Readers don't actually sound like armchair psychologists, but the ones who do are hilarious. Some actually do it on purpose.

Arguing with an Internet Cold Reader is generally believed to be a useless proposition, because anything you may say in your defence is just further proof of your deep-seated insecurities. It's a similar mindset to the Conspiracy Theorist, who thinks that all evidence to the contrary is actually evidence of a cover-up. The fact that most people on the Internet really are insecure, won't ever admit to being wrong, and prefer to dig in their heels over conceding a point means that Internet Cold Readers can rely on a grain of truth from which to spin their bizarre personality profile. But in the end, it's an Ad Hominem form of argument, focusing on the other party's obvious desires and misconceptions over the topic at hand.

    Internet Detective 
The Internet Detective fancies himself to be the ultimate diviner of truth from lies, a righteous warrior fighting against falsehood on the Internet.

Accordingly, the Detective will trawl the Internet for any information they can find about an individual from any period of time, looking for something they did wrong at some point in time, which will then stand for all time and mean they can never be right about anything, ever. These guys can be extremely obsessive, going through old threads, social media profiles, even Real Life public records. They employ heavy use of the Wayback Machine and might even engage in Social Engineering, like posing as someone else to the subject or their friends. Anything they find will be subject to intense examination, taken in the worst possible context (if not removed from its original context outright), and painted in the most embarrassing possible light.

Accordingly, the Internet Detective's obsessive, stalker-like stance and tendency to jump to conclusions makes it an attractive disguise for a Single-Issue Wonk, who wants so desperately to be right about something that they'll scour their opponent's Internet history looking for anything they can use against them. In the worst cases, someone who wants to defend a false claim will become an Internet Detective looking to make a show of force and convince their opponents to back down, which works more often than it really should.

The Internet Detective is described on Mike Reed's Flame Warriors Guide as the Archivist.

    Internet Tough Guy

The Internet Tough Guy is someone who will threaten anyone who annoys them online with physical or legal harm. These threats are always empty; Internet Tough Guys couldn't fulfill most of them even if they wanted to. They probably wouldn't even be able to figure out your IP address, much less your real identity.

The most common threat is one of violence, evoking the image of a weakling who fancies himself to be a tough guy but could never convince anyone of that in Real Life. The second most common threat is of a lawsuit, which would be immediately thrown out of court if they ever tried it for real. Those threats often invoke the U.S. Constitution in places where it doesn't apply, especially where the forum isn't even owned by Americans. But there are other, more subtle variants, like the user who claims to be close to the forum moderators and threatens to get their adversary banned, or the user who notices that their opponent is a minor and threatens to call their parents.

Trolls love dealing with Internet Tough Guys, because they're incredibly easy to provoke into rants, anger, and ineffectual threats — the kind of thing trolls live on.

See also the Navy Seal Copypasta, an example of an Internet Tough Guy whose threats and claims of military experience are so outlandish that it became a meme.

    Left Fielder
The Left Fielder is a user who will enter a discussion already under way and start talking about something only vaguely related, or even completely unrelated. When done deliberately, it's a form of derailing a thread, but usually couching the derailment in something not really inflammatory, just horrendously off-topic.

Imagine, for instance, a thread about whales in which someone asks the question, "Have you ever noticed that a lot of rock stars from The '70s look like Jesus?" Most forum users can't resist the temptation to answer the question. A skilled Left Fielder will throw out something that requires a lot of discussion to untangle; in this case, the users will discuss whether The Beatles look like Jesus and transition to arguing whether the Beatles really even count as a "70s band". Eventually, someone will remind everyone that the thread was originally about "whales in the time of Jesus or something", and the other users will sheepishly go back to talking about whales, but with a few rogue comments sprinkled in about whether the Beatles were better than Led Zeppelin. This is why many forums have strict rules against "off-topic" posts.

Some Left Fielders are Trolls, but others are Single Issue Wonks who just have to talk about their personal obsession, and still others are Noobs who don't know how forums work. Even seasoned users can't resist throwing something out of left field on occasion, and smart moderators will usually establish a new thread for the topic.

The term comes from Baseball and is part of more general slang for something strange or unexpected. The exact link to left field (either the area of the field or the player who plays the position) is uncertain, but a commonly-cited origin is from the Chicago Cubs' old stadium at the West Side Grounds, where beyond the left field stands sat Cook County Hospital, a mental institutionnote ; fans could occasionally hear, coming out of left field, the patients screaming crazy things.

See also Weird Aside, for when it happens offline.

    Link Blog 
A blog that focuses primarily on cool links that the author has found, as opposed to original content such as essays. Arguably the original form; Jorn Barger, the coiner of the term "weblog," intended it to mean a log of his Web surfing. Barger's blog Robot Wisdom, one of the oldest, still follows this format. Many Power Law Blogs have this form, often embellished with commentary. (The most pronounced example may be Instapundit who has a habit of potholing his links with cryptic descriptions like Heh.)

A lurker is someone who reads a forum but doesn't participate. They may simply read the conversations without even signing up, or they might register an account but rarely post, if at all.

Unlike in Real Life, where a "lurker" would be that creepy guy at the party whom no one remembers inviting and who stands in the corner all night listening to other people's conversations, on the Internet, no one notices a lurker. In fact, lurking is highly encouraged on many corners of the Internet (hence the phrase "Lurk moar"). The idea is that a new user shouldn't just jump in and start posting without a sense of the forum's rules, style, and culture. If you take the time to read the forum and learn how it works, then when you're ready, you can jump in and be less of a Noob.

However, lurking wasn't always a good thing. The term was coined in The '80s, when the Internet barely existed and was confined to governments and universities. People would connect their Commodore 64s and IBM compatible computers to bulletin board systems via modem. These were often hosted by fellow geeks in their own homes, and usually used a modem connected to a single phone line, meaning only one user could be on at a time — and many a BBS wasn't even online all day long. Thus, a lurker was someone who tied up the phone line without contributing to the community.

Not all lurkers nowadays are prospective users, either. Sometimes they might lurk but not like what they see and decide to stay out of the conversation. Sometimes it's an old forum and nobody's using it anymore, but someone still wants to see an old conversation. In other cases, the forum may be free to read but charge money to register an account, and lurkers are the ones who don't want to pay for it.

If you join a forum and admit to being a former lurker, the registered users might be creeped out that someone was reading their conversations, even though they were posted on a publicly viewable forum.

Not related to the advanced/evolved form of a Zerg Hydralisk, nor the homeless people on Babylon 5, nor the enemy monsters in Jak and Daxter: The Precursor Legacy.

An online "entourage" or crowd of Yes People surrounding a particular Internet user and/or a "personal army" of Internet users recruited to attack or defend someone in a Flame War or internet flare, or to promote them or their product. This is connected to AstroTurf except that Astroturf is usually for a politician, product, company, or one side in a war or conflict, whereas a Meat Puppet can appear anywhere (and are often why a debate escalates to Flame War, Internet Backdraft, or appearing on Fandom Wank levels). These are usually called Meat Puppet as opposed to Sock Puppet, because they are actually separate people, unlike a Sock Puppet, which is a different user identity (or collection of them) created by the same person. That said, good luck in telling them apart, especially in places that allow anonymity and don't ban proxies.

No relation to the Meat Puppet trope, which is about possession or Mind Control.

A Mediator is the opposite of a Troll — they respond to most arguments online, particularly the ones that don't directly involve them, by posting comments intended to defuse the debate (or at least admonish the other parties for "fighting"). Unfortunately, they're incapable of doing this without a heaping dose of condescension.

As such, this is very grating to people who were simply having a spirited but reasoned argument. In the worst cases, the Mediator will derail the thread and shift discussion to themselves and how important they are to the forum. This, ironically, usually results in a new petty squabble between the Mediator and the users who are challenging their moral authority. The Mediator is often A Darker Me who wouldn't dare intervene in this way in Real Life, and the worst cases become an online Well-Intentioned Extremist who commits the Golden Mean Fallacy — either you're totally peaceful, or you're disrupting the forum.

A Mediator who takes the time to actually be good at their job without the self-aggrandisement will successfully morph into the Shepherd.

    Me Too!

"And posting 'Me too!' like some braindead AOLer
I should do the world a favor and cap you like Ol' Yeller
You're just about as useless as JPEGs to Helen Keller..."
"Weird Al" Yankovic, "It's All About the Pentiums"

"Me Too!" is a pointless, contentless post, replying to a previous post just to say that they agree with it.

Of course, they don't actually have to say the exact phrase "Me too!" Variants include "Seconded," "This," "Damn straight," "+1," and even just "^" (an IRC tradition) to refer to the text above it. In really bad cases, the post will quote the entirety of the text it agrees with.

Much like "First!", forums hate this and will often delete it. Indeed, it wastes not only time, but also bandwidth; some places which barely handle the traffic they get will ban posts like this just to keep the site up and running.

However, there are a couple of accepted uses. For instance, some boards will automatically close a thread after a certain number of posts, and participants in a thread nearing that limit who want to break it earlier will agree to flood the thread with meaningless posts to get it locked. Threads involving voting for something will often be filled with posts like this, because all that needs to be said is whether the user agrees or disagrees. On Twitter, the phrase was used as part of the "#MeToo movement", where women who were victims of sexual harassment (or worse) would simply post the hashtag, and the sheer volume of users who did this (particularly high-profile women like actresses — there's a reason for the Horrible Hollywood trope, after all) would draw attention to the scale of the problem.

"Me too!" was particularly associated with the Eternal September, when AOL subscribers got access to Usenet and flooded it with posts like this (among other Noob behaviour). In the mid-1990s, "AOL!" became a mocking shorthand for "Me too!" on the site.

    Ninja Editor 
A ninja editor is a person who makes a post, then almost immediately goes back and edits it without comment. Like a Ninja.

Usually, this is done innocently, like fixing a typo. In those cases, it's usually customary to add something to the end of the post clarifying the situation, like "ninja-edited for typo".

When it's not done innocently, however, it changes the content of the post. And this leads to mass confusion, as subsequent replies address a post saying one thing, when the post itself says another. It's often done when someone is losing an argument and wants to walk back what they said to make it easier to defend. Because of this, many forums limit the ability to edit posts to a certain period of time after the post was made (typically an hour); this allows for innocent ninja edits, but after that, there will be a marker on the post to show that it has been edited, or perhaps editing may not be permitted at all. Some sites, like GameFAQs, had such trouble with this that they didn't allow editing at all. At other places, it can make for an entertaining forum game, but in that case everyone knows what's about to happen.

The most malicious form of ninja editing is a Trolling method by which a user asks a question, gets a few responses, and then goes back and edits their original post to make the replies appear super embarrassing or incriminating. For instance, the Troll might get users to innocently respond with a number under 13, then change their question to "How old are you?" — and many forums will ban anyone who admits they're under 13 years old. Or they might post a really inflammatory comment, get a bunch of inflammatory responses, then edit their original comment to something much tamer or even delete it outright, making the other users look like they started the argument by being needlessly aggressive.

The easiest way to combat malicious ninja editing is to quote a user before responding to them. Users generally can't edit quoted text in someone else's post, and it clearly shows the point to which you're responding. Branching-style forums may also delete any responses to a deleted post to prevent this kind of thing from happening.

A related phenomenon is the ninja post, where someone takes the time to respond to something, only for someone else to have responded more quickly in the time between the first user reading the thread and submitting their own post. This causes a break in the conversation where one person responds, then the next post appears as if the previous one didn't exist — which is especially confusing if it refers to "the last post" when it really means two posts ago, or it complains that no one's mentioned something when the ninja post did mention it. This is one of the disadvantages of a slow internet connection. Places like 4chan have the variant known as the "Combo Breaker", where a group of posters tries to complete a sequence one post at a time (like spelling a word or posting pieces of an image), only for two users to post the same image in succession because one ninja'd the other, or for a user to post something irrelevant because they weren't paying attention to the "combo" (4chan finds things like this hilarious).

On TV Tropes, we also have what we call a Serial Tweaker, who makes an edit, realises they missed something, and makes another edit to fix that thing, realises they missed something...

    Orwellian Editor 
"Rewrites every story, every poem that ever was
Eliminates incompetence, and those who break the laws."
Megadeth, "Hook In Mouth"

An Orwellian Editor is the extremist cousin of the Ninja Editor who goes to great lengths to remove all evidence of something they said or did online, in the hopes that the Internet will forget about it if it's no longer available.

It's usually done as a response to unexpected criticism — rather than address it, they delete the offending comment and then pretend that it never happened. In some cases, though, it could be much more than a comment — like an entire Fan Fic, perhaps one that was extremely incendiary and racist.

Orwellian Editors are not limited to hiding their own actions. Just as frequent are cases where a Message Board administrator attempts this on other people, usually when they end up on the losing side of an argument; they'll delete an entire thread and any reference to it to avoid having to face up to it. They'll often ban the most vocal users on the winning side as well, and they'll forbid the remaining users from mentioning the whole affair. This, by the way, is an excellent way to drive away forum users.

Either way, whether or not the deleted content is truly damaging is irrelevant; in fact, most of the deletions themselves weigh a lot worse on the Orwellian Editor than whatever was posted in the first place. Some Orwellian Editors also find it very difficult to delete everything, in part because they don't always have the ability to do so (although they may try harassing forum administrators to delete stuff on their behalf), and in part because of the Streisand Effect — their zeal to remove something from the Internet is what gets others interested in what exactly it was to begin with.

Out here on TV Tropes, we've experienced this sort of behaviour from people who've written works they'd like to forget and want us to delete our page on them. That's why we have a policy that The Fic May Be Yours, but the Trope Page Is Ours.

The term "Orwellian" (in this and other contexts) comes from George Orwell and his novel Nineteen Eighty-Four, in which society is adept at rewriting history to match what the present-day propaganda demands ("We have always been at war with Eastasia.").

    Post Count 
Post count is the number of posts a forum user has made. It's often displayed in the user's profile, and even next to the user's name on every post.

For most people, post count is irrelevant — a good comment is a good comment, regardless of the number of comments the user previously made. But some users use a high post count as a proxy for high status and will judge other users — and their contributions — by their post count. There's a nugget of truth to this, in the sense that someone who's been on the forum for a long time and is highly respected there will naturally have a high post count. But correlation does not imply causation, and some users will try to manufacture respect by building up a high post count.

As such, these users will artificially inflate their post counts with contentless posts, along the lines of "First!" and "Me too!", as well as engage in such activities as Thread Hopping and Thread Necromancy. These users are known as "post whores". They're not always bad; sometimes their commitment to contributing actually helps keep the forum stable and active. But others are just obnoxious Spammers. Such users also have a tendency to Suffer Newbies Poorly, because they will naturally think of newbies with low post counts as not worthy of their respect.

    Power Law Blogs 
Clay Shirky wrote an article that observed, in effect, that the popularity of blogs — as defined by inbound links — will be governed by who links to whom. Where popularity breeds popularity, this will have the effect of "clumping" popularity (inbound links, or attention) around a relatively tight set of interconnected blogs.

Naturally, there are Power Law winners in the various blog categories, as well.

The Shepherd is a rare and benevolent online persona who actually helps new members find their way on the forum. They'll take the time to greet newbies, teach them the ropes, answer questions that might be common knowledge to established users, and get the rest of the forum to treat them fairly.

Shepherds are incredibly useful to have on an Internet forum, where a noob can barely go five minutes without unwittingly hitting someone's Berserk Button. They don't know which topics always lead to arguments, which users have a Hair-Trigger Temper, or which opinions will draw in the Single-Issue Wonk. Most veteran users — especially those who Suffer Newbies Poorly — will not assume good faith, but instead see the new user as a Troll and react accordingly. Such reactions usually discourage the new user from continuing to contribute. But the Shepherd will protect the newbie from the attacks and help them become a respected member of the forum.

Shepherds are often held in very high esteem in the Forum Pecking Order, especially if some established users once benefited from the Shepherd's help. Because of this, the Shepherd usually doesn't have to be very forceful in convincing the rest of the forum to shut up. Arguing with or trolling the Shepherd is highly frowned upon, and most other users will rally to their defence. That said, the Shepherd is usually no pushover himself, and is capable of arguing with even the moderators — and winning. And if the newbie betrays the Shepherd's trust, the Shepherd will come down harder on them than even the regulars would have without his intervention.

Some particularly rabid newbie-haters will accuse the Shepherd of being a White Knight, which is someone who acts like a Shepherd but has an (often badly disguised) ulterior motive behind trying to help people. So named for the Knight in Shining Armor, the White Knight's motives are similar to the Shepherd, albeit in a very broad sense in that they both want to help people. But a genuine Shepherd is a Good Shepherd who really wants to grow the community, whereas the stereotypical White Knight wants to make a big show of "saving" the newbie and is hoping the newbie is a hot girl who'll fall in love with him.

    Suffers Newbies Poorly 
"Show newbies the ropes! If we see a user we've never met before make some mistakes on the wiki, instead of berating or ignoring the user, we'll hunt them down and hang them. No one was a perfect wiki editor straight off the bat, but if you're dumb enough to get caught, you deserve to die."
The Urban Dead Wiki's (Satirical) Project Un!Welcome

A forum user who suffers newbies poorly has no patience for noobs and will berate them for not knowing the ins and outs of the forum, its culture, or its underlying fandom.

Your average forum has a ton of this type of user, which is why it pays to be a lurker so that one can avoid proving that they're new to the forum in their ignorance. Most users who suffer newbies poorly don't really have a Hair-Trigger Temper and aren't actively looking to scare off the newbies, but their impatience with having to answer obvious questions or cleaning up after a user who doesn't know how things work leads them to blow their top pretty quickly. This user is more of an Insufferable Genius who clearly knows more about the forum and has been there long enough to prove it.

This type of user is especially common on forums dealing with a specific fandom, where a new user might not know as much about the underlying fandom and asks the sort of questions that a "real fan" would obviously know. It's also prevalent in forums dealing with video games, where users have little patience for newbies who might be struggling with the game and asking for help; they usually tell them to Figure It Out Yourself. Such users might be slightly more justified if it's an online game like an MMORPG or MOBA and they'd be expected to team up with the newbie, and the newbie's poor performance and understanding of the Metagame negatively affects the veteran's enjoyment of the game.

The particularly odd thing about a user who suffers newbies poorly is that regardless of how impatiently they treated you when you were a newbie, the minute you stop being a newbie and move up a rank in the Forum Pecking Order, they're perfectly okay with you and treat you like an equal. In fact, it's not uncommon for such users to be among the most liked and respected on the board; you just needed to prove your worth. That is, if you ever managed to make it that far and didn't just give up when everyone started snapping at you.

The effect of users who suffer newbies poorly can be mitigated by the presence of a Shepherd, who can often remind such users that they're being unnecessarily mean.

    Thread Hopping 
Thread hopping is a term for posting a comment without reading the thread beyond the first or last post. Nine times out of ten, a thread hopper's comment will repeat something that was previously discussed or from which the thread has long since moved on. The term comes from the idea that a person is just going from thread to thread and dropping a comment for its own sake.

While it would be unreasonable to expect a user to read the entire thread before commenting (at least if it's a particularly long one), it's generally considered good Internet etiquette to at least skim the thread to see if what you wanted to discuss had already been addressed. At least go through the last page or two. What sets a threadhopper apart is that it seems like they just want to inflate their post count and will say the first thing that comes to their mind with respect to the topic.

The cool thing about thread hopping is that if you spot a compulsive threadhopper, you can comment about them in a thread which they'll never actually read.

    Thread Necromancer

"We have lots of points that we debate to death and beyond. Raise Dead is a 1st level spell on these forums."

A Thread Necromancer is someone who adds a comment to a thread that hasn't been active for months, if not years. It's dead, but there's nothing stopping you bringing it back to life, like a necromancer. Supply your own Evil Laugh.

Whether or not this is acceptable practice depends on the forum, and in many cases on the topic. Some places very much frown on it and will automatically lock threads that have been inactive for a certain period of time. Others encourage it, because they like to keep all discussion of a single topic in one place and don't like to clog the forum with different threads on the same topic. But more often than not, thread necromancy is not a good idea. Threads die for a reason, after all, and in some cases a thread was actually quite unpleasant and reviving it would just cause more fights. Indeed, one Troll tactic is to deliberately "necro" a Flame War thread that had burned itself out to reignite the argument and grab some popcorn. In other cases, someone will think of the perfect insult days or even weeks after the argument, and unlike in real life, on the Internet you still have the opportunity to throw it out there.

Other threads, however, have very good reasons to remain dormant for long periods of time, like a Play-by-Post Game where people have taken a break. Indeed, many roleplayers will often ask for a thread necromancer to show up because they want to pick up a game they haven't played lately. Another "positive" necromancy situation is where someone posts a creative work like a Fan Fiction in installments — it can be a while between installments. In that case, though, some writers will also necro the thread to ask for feedback, which can really piss off the other users who saw a new post and had their hopes up that a new installment had just dropped.

The Internet has long adopted the aphorism "timestamps are your friends" to encourage people who stumble across a thread to pay attention to how old it is, lest they anger the other forumgoers with an unwitting thread necromancy. If you absolutely need to leave a post after a long time, it's considered courteous to acknowledge the long delay.

    Word of Mod 
Word of Mod is a decision taken by fiat. While the name suggests that it's an order by the forum moderators, in many cases it goes all the way up to the Powers That Be, usually the site owners. Users who don't comply tend to be blocked or restrained. In some cases, the term is used to decry power-tripping forum moderation trying to silence things that reflect poorly on them; Word of Mod can be used to enact the wishes of an Orwellian Editor. In other cases, it's simply a neutral way to playfully refer to moderation decisions.

In some cases, "Word of Mod" can be used to distinguish comments by moderators acting in their capacity as moderators from comments by moderators acting as forum members like everyone else. This is exactly how it works on the TV Tropes Forum, where our moderators put on their "mod hat" before invoking Word of Mod. Such posts are easily distinguished by their pink background colour.

    YouTube War Expert 
Police Sergeant Deegan: Ah, this reminds me of Vietnam...
Father Ted: You were in Vietnam, sergeant?
Police Sergeant Deegan: No, no, I mean the films!

The YouTube War Expert is a self-proclaimed expert in all aspects of war studies. They've never actually fought in a war, nor even joined any branch of the military, nor observed any military training regimens or conducted formal study of any historical military campaigns. But they did read a book once. Maybe several!

Since a lot of Internet discussion revolves around who would win a hypothetical fight between two sides, this type of Internet persona shows up frequently. They're particularly difficult to avoid on YouTube, where it's practically impossible to post a military-related video without several of these guys flooding the comment section. It usually devolves into an argument where the "expert" insists that one side would obviously win because of a myriad of technical and cultural specifications that they alone had considered.

The YouTube War Expert usually exhibits the following traits:
  • Obsession with the technical details of individual weapons. Real soldiers care far more about the context of a weapon's use; who's using it, what's the target, how many are on each side. The YTWE cares more about how much damage it can do, what conditions it can survive, and how often it will succeed. There are a number of monomaniacs out there who favour one weapon over all others and will extol its superiority in every situation you can think of. They'll rattle off statistics about the weapon at the slightest provocation; if you ever wanted to know about a certain gun's capacity, weight, and rate of fire, they'll tell you before you even have a chance to ask.
  • Misplaced Nationalism and Cultural Posturing. The YTWE looks at a particular nation or ethnic group and re-characterises them as a Proud Warrior Race, uniquely suited to winning any given conflict because of how fearless and disciplined they are. As one might expect, the YTWE often shares said nationality or ethnicity with the group he's extolling. There are also anti-nationalists out there who look at a certain nation or ethnic group and claim that they are almost certain to fall apart whenever the going gets tough. Expect to see an obsession with old unresolved national rivalries, often involving the Cold War.
  • Hilariously masculine language. The YTWE will drop terms like "blitzkrieg", "Alpha strike", "lethality radius", and "maximum overkill". If they know anything about the slang of real-world military branches, they'll use it at every opportunity. They often double as an Internet Tough Guy who will threaten you as if they were at war with you, often saying things like, "How 'bout you say that again when I come to your house and point a [weapon of choice] at you?" See also the Navy Seal Copypasta.

Any debate involving a YouTube War Expert usually devolves into bizarre hypotheticals (e.g. which medieval weapons are better), Culture Clashes, arguments over whether Katanas Are Just Better, and comparisons to losers of major military conflicts. Anyone who actually knows something about military history or conflict will just get drowned out by these idiots.

These guys nearly universally have no military experience, but in many places (particularly the U.S., which has a lot of Internet users), they can actually purchase weapons for themselves, including firearms. They'll then brag about their weapons, describe them in lavish detail, and fantasise about all the scenarios in which they may have to use said weapon, none of which will ever materialise because they live in Suburbia. These guys are also often called mall ninjas, after an internet discussion involving someone who behaved like this and claimed to be a mall security guard, who may or may not have been trolling.

The bottom line is that anyone who's actually been through military training will become well aware of how long it takes to become a real military expert. The YouTube War Expert is so Ignorant of Their Own Ignorance that it becomes blindingly obvious that they've never been close to a military in their lives.

Alternative Title(s): Thread Hopper, Online Persona, Thread Necromancy, Online Disinhibition Effect, Greater Internet Fuckwad Theory, Tab Explosion, You Tube War Expert, Timestamps Are Your Friends, Thread Necromancer, Thread Hopping, Suffers Newbies Poorly, The Shepherd, Post Count, Orwellian Editor, Ninja Editor, Mistakenly Banned, Mediator, Lurker, Left Fielder, Internet Detective