Absolute Beginner's Frequently Asked Questions

3. What are Smileys?

Otherwise known as 'Emoticons', smileys are used liberally to indicate the intent of the writer in the absence of any other clues.

There are people who claim that if everyone wrote and read carefully and intelligently then there would be no need for smileys. Indeed many people, especially in several of the UK newsgroups, refuse to use them at all and and regard them as being exclusively for the illiterate. If we were discussing journalism, literature or formal correspondance then I would agree wholeheartedly.

Usenet, however, is none of these - it is the equivalent of a coffee shop or bar conversation where the emphasis is on exchange of views, not correctness of grammar or vocabulary. Try going to your local bar and correcting every grammatical error in the conversation of the group at your table then watch the reaction.

Exactly! And online pedants are just as excruciatingly boring so, if you are in any doubt as to how your remark will be interepreted, use Smileys and ignore the pedants.
And take care not to become one.

But be careful not to overuse them; like everything else, overuse destroys the usefulness. And do not use Smileys as a way of trying to get away with being rude or insulting. This is cowardice and will simply get you branded as an idiot.

The basic Smiley consists of a colon and a right bracket together :) and if you tilt your head to the left and use your imagination you may see a slight resemblance to a smiling face. This is to indicate "What I just said was intended to be taken as a joke". Example : "Your feet stink :)"

Sometimes the colon will be replaced by a semicolon to indicate a wink ;) and some people give their smileys a nose with the inclusion of a dash :-)

Substituting a left bracket is used to express negative feelings about something, for example, "My spouse has eloped with an Armadillo :("

Those are the basic smileys - there are a thousand variations on them.

Additionally, you might see <g> - this is a <grin> sometimes expanded into <bg> (big grin), <eg> (evil grin) and so on.

Then there are acronyms such as

LOL! = Laughing out loud
ROFL! = Rolling on the floor laughing
ROFLMAO! = Rolling on the floor laughing my (posterior) off

Some Common Acronyms

  • AFAIC = As Far As I'm Concerned
  • AFAIK = As Far As I Know
  • AFAIR = As Far As I Remember/Recall
  • BTW = By the way
  • FWIW = For what it's worth
  • FUBAR = F***ed Up Beyond All Recovery
  • FOAD = F*** off and die
  • HAND = Have a nice day
  • HTH = Hope that helps
  • IANAL = I am not a lawyer
  • IIRC = If I recall/remember correctly
  • IMO = In my opinion
  • IMHO = In my humble opinion
  • IMNSHO = In my not-so-humble opinion
  • IOW = In other words
  • ISTM = It seems to me
  • LART = Luser Attitude Readjustment Tool
  • OTOH = On the other hand
  • PITA = Pain In The (posterior)
  • RTFM = Read the f***ing manual
  • SNAFU = Situation normal - another f*** up
  • TIA = Thanks In Advance
  • TINC = There is no Cabal
  • TINSTAAFL = There is no such thing as a free lunch
  • WYSIWYG = What You See Is What You Get
  • YMMV = Your mileage may vary ("Your experience may be different")

My all-time favourite online acronym is :

IAFWAFITWOWWA - In a fight with a fool it's the wise one who walks away


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