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Author: Subject: Internet Wankers
leu
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Internet Wankers

As there seem to be many threads at Science Madness where wanking is becoming the norm, these wise words from the URL below seem appropriate:

http://www.netalive.org/mirror/wanker.html

How to Write Like A Wanker

No matter what Flash-blinded web monkeys would have us believe, the Internet is a text-based medium: especially its major discussion forums (IRC and Usenet) where people from all over the world can interact and share information. A popular misconception about text messages on the Internet is that, to be an effective communicator and earn the respect and admiration of your peers, you must be able to write lucid prose; that your messages, articles, posts and pages must be easy to understand and pleasant to read.

Nothing could be further from the truth.

Popular sites filled with cutting-edge Internet cognoscenti (such as Slashdot and ShackNews) give the lie to this harmful and destructive myth: they are brimming with horrific grammar, atrocious spelling, gratuitous abbreviation and childish, arrogant attitude. To be "in" on the net, you must write like a wanker.

1. Structure.

Just as every house needs a foundation, every brilliantly immature net text is built on a strong structure of ignorance, sloth, and mindless misguided belligerence. You cannot afford to ignore this section.

Don't capitalize.

Hey, if it made e.e. cummings look like a visionary, surely it'll do the same for you, right? Wrong. It makes you look like a lazy fuckwit. (Unless you demonstrate that you can use the shift key: for instance, by using characters that demand it, like double quotes. Then it makes you look like a pretentious fuckwit.) Even if you somehow manage to pull off the no-caps style with grace and flair, the best impression you will make is that of a fuckwit admirer of e.e. cummings. That puts you one up on ninety-eight percent of the Internet, but you're still a fuckwit.

Don't punctuate.

Sorry, that should be "Dont punctuate". Skipping out on important punctuation---apostrophes especially---is an effective way of letting the reader know that you can't be arsed to write properly. This gives you an opportunity to annoy your reader with poorly emphasized, amorphous run-on sentences. If you want to write like a wanker, you must take every chance to annoy your reader.

Apostrophes are fairly easy to deal with---just skip them entirely--- but hyphens are problematic. You might use spaces instead ("African-American" becomes "African American"), but this runs the risk of correctness (many people would accept "African American" as proper usage). Unfortunately, you run the same risk by simply omitting the hyphen ("e-mail" becomes "email"). Unless you're trying to come across as a pretentious wanker (see "Don't capitalize", above), you're probably better off avoiding hyphenated words, and going with whatever looks least intelligent ("africanamerican", "e mail") when it's unavoidable.

Mispunctuate.

Fucking up your punctuation is a conservative but effective way of exposing yourself as a retard in front of the Internet.

1. Pluralize with Apostrophes.

"Pluralize with Apostrophe's." This one small tactic is guaranteed to annoy anyone with even a passing knowledge of proper grammar. With a single keystroke, you demonstrate that you're completely incapable of handling the simplest rule of the English language, and reduce your more capable comrades to fits of mute frustration at your wilful idiocy.

2. Overuse Mutated Ellipses.

Never use a comma, a dash, a (semi)colon, or a period. If you absolutely must punctuate---to end what would otherwise pass for a sentence, for instance---toss in either two, or four (or more) dots as an "ellipsis". This will come across as lazy, gutless, and flippant all at once: pure wanker.

3. Overuse Exclamation and Question Marks.

Nothing shows your reader how serious you are better than five or six exclamation marks at the end of a sentence. Nothing will make your TA answer your question more quickly than a string of question marks. Bonus points for mixing the two in a question you really want answered. Extra bonus points for stuffing three or four exclamation marks into the middle of a sentence. If anything that should have been an exclamation mark actually comes out as the numeral '1', you can be sure that your reader thinks you are a wanker.

4. Star Out Offensive Language.

Because calling her a 'cunt' would be rude, but calling her a 'c*nt' is perfectly acceptable.

Write Like You're on IRC.

Don't forget the cute misspellings. You're a wanker, but you wank to 'pr0n', not 'pornography'. Aspire to be 'kewl', but don't try to be 'cool' except on hot summer days. Don't neglect leetspeak, either: use the '0r' form of verbs as often as possible ('hax0r', 'ownz0r', 'wanx0r'). Replace 'o' with '0', 'e' with '3', 't' with '7', and so on. And while we're at it, be sure to write in an exaggerated ghetto/ ebonic style if you're obviously not black. Nothing says "wanker!" louder than James Francis Spalding III sending out 'greetz and propz to all [his] hos and homies in da hood'.

Use an Inappropriate Format.

Never send a plain-text email or make a plain-text Usenet post; send HTML instead, preferably with browser-specific extensions. If your system cracks down on such things (obviously trying to stifle your breakout creativity), use a gratuitously incompatible character set, like Shift-JIS Japanese. Or just embed SmartQuotes (which the real world interprets as VT320 control codes) in your text.

If you're writing for the web, you'll want to post Word documents instead of HTML, and be sure that they're from the most recent version of Word---you wouldn't want anyone to think that you're behind the times (or read your work), would you? Avoid standard document formats like PDF, PostScript and even RTF like the plague: you don't want the un-l33t masses to be able to read your work, do you?

Ignore Proper Spelling and Usage.

The English language is full of homophones, for example 'they're', 'there', and 'their': confuse them at every opportunity. "i hate my parents there car sux0rz.." (Note also the run-on sentence, leet-speak -0r verb form, uncapitalized 'i' and stunted, unwanted ellipsis.) While you're at it, don't forget to make glaring, obvious spelling errors: 'reasonabel', 'buisness', and 'mesage', for instance. (Bonus wanker points if you play the ESL card to explain your inability to operate a simple dictionary, though this applies more to gratuitous misspellings than---a wanker would use 'then'---misuse of homonyms.)

2. Style.

As one of my friends is fond of pointing out, a gratuitously bad command of the English language doesn't necessarily indicate a fundamentally dumb text. (If nothing else, a kitten walking across a keyboard may randomly type a Zen koan.) To present yourself as a proper wanker, you'll have to do better than sloppy spelling and atrocious grammar; you also have to demonstrate that you genuinely have no fucking clue what you're talking about.

Make Personal Attacks.

If people argue with you, the best way of refuting them is to call them 'fags' or 'Nazis'. ('Pedophile' is rapidly gaining popularity in this regard, too.) Make up wild and false accusations against them: "Mike just got out of prison for raping puppies, so he obviously isn't qualified to have an opinion about Unreal Tournament." Ignore their argument and attack their credibility: "Oh yeah? Why should I listen to someone who sells heroin to kindergarteners?"

Claim False Credentials.

If you're discussing copyright law, claim to be a copyright lawyer. If you're arguing about tobacco's effects on one's health, claim to be a doctor. (No matter what, claim to be a s00per 31337 h4x0r d00d: that always goes over well.) Refuse to provide any substantiating evidence, and for bonus points, grossly misuse jargon.

Make Shit Up.

Are your arguments getting shot down because you can't back them up? No problem: just pull some statistics out of your ass and go nuts. "Well, the crime rate goes down by 33 to 37 percent in states with gun control, so clearly pro-gun control people support mugging little old ladies." If anyone ever asks you where you get your figures, make vague references to articles, journals, or even television programs. "I read an article in the paper a few months ago that showed the earth was only six thousand years old because carbon-dating is bogus." When challenged, make vague references to shadowy conspiracies hiding the truth.

Another good way to make yourself look like a total wanker is to twist other people's positions beyond credibility. If you're arguing with a member of the NRA, for instance, assume that they support private ownership of main battle tanks and rebut appropriately.

Cite Urban Legends.

Chevy Impalas with rocket-assisted take-off packs crashing into cliffs. Tourists waking up without their kidneys in bathtubs full of ice. Swiss aerodynamicists rigorously proving that bumblebees cannot fly. Take these so-called "legends" as gospel. Remember, anything and everything you can find on Snopes is a fact ... unless it has a green dot next to it.

Emphasize and Misinterpret Religion.

Trying to convert your audience to whatever religion (or sect) they're not is a foolproof way of looking like a complete wanker. Be careful; if you've had a religious upbringing, you may accidentally take a familiar, moderate position: this is counterproductive. Insist loudly that the Bible is the literal word of God to a community of skeptics; claim that "deviants" are "going to Hell" on alt.sex ; whatever you do, remember that the best way to convert the heathens is to loudly denigrate their beliefs. Don't actually bother learning about any of the religions you impersonate; feel free to just make shit up.

Be sure to cite the Book of 'Revelations'. That one always scores big wanker points with any Biblical scholars who happen to be watching.

Don't forget that Wicca is synonymous with Satanism. For that matter, all religions with no concept of "the devil" are Satan-worshipping cults.

Ramble.

You don't need something as limiting and backwards-thinking as a point to grace all of the IPv4 address space with your wanking writing, hell no! Start your masterwork with a skimpy rebuttal of what the last guy said, then make a fifteen paragraph digression into a dubious explanation of how quantum chromodynamics proves the existence of Atlantis.

If anyone complains that you're off-topic, call them a Nazi.

Post Non Sequiturs.

This is important: Never stay true to any local topic. If you're posting to a newsgroup for Unix mail programs, talk about the World Series, or cute little puppies, or try to convert them all to Christianity (if they talk about daemons, they must be Satanists, right?) If you're replying to a message-board post on Quake III, ramble on for ten paragraphs about lint from your navel.

Make Stupid Threats.

When someone takes issue with your writing, never fail to make dark h4x0rly threats about '0wn1ng' their computer. Tell them you'll "hack into their box", plant terrorist plans and child pornography, and tip off the FBI. (This works especially well if they live in Europe.) Tell them that you and "your friends" (yeah, right) will come by and "bust a cap in [their] ass". (This works really well if you're on different continents.)

Try to avoid making truly grandiose threats, like breaking into the SAC missile control computer (because, of course, it's gotta be connected to the Internet) and turning their home town into a glowing glass parking lot. People will think that you're being sarcastic, and might even consider you witty.

Achtung!

A number of people have helpfully written (and I use the term loosely) to correct my style of quotation and punctuation: namely, "like this", not "like this." Now, if you limit yourself to one reference, Strunk and White claim that:

Typographical usage dictates that the comma (and presumably the period) be inside the marks, though logically it often seems not to belong there. (p.36, The Elements of Style )

This rule is apparently derived from paper typography, where the kerning of the characters does indeed look better with the comma (or period) inside the quotation marks. However, other astute readers have taken great pains to point out to me that The Web Is Not Print.

Second, another fine and respected reference -- Fowler's Modern English Usage -- indicates that:

If a quoted word or phrase comes at the end of a sentence or coincides with a comma, the punctuation that belongs to the sentence as a whole is placed outside the quotation marks: What is a gigabyte'? / No one should follow a multitude to do evil', as the Scripture says

Fowler's also notes that the comma-inside-quotation-marks usage is typical of American English, which I consider an oxymoron. That makes all of you people who've written in to complain about my punctuation unequivocally wrong, though since it takes a reasonably technical and careful mind to notice the so-called error I won't hold it against you.

ESR also has something to say about my punctuation style -- namely, that unintended commas inside quoted strings are a counter-intuitive mutilation. This is, in fact, why I punctuate the way I do.

Cheers,

[Edited on 29-8-2006 by leu]

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Marvin
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I'm not convinced this is helpful. I'd swap a higher level of science for a higher level of grammer any day and it isn't like real scientific texts don't use abbr. and decade sensitive terminology that needs translating for a lot of people.

If nothing else, real doctors and scientists are usually the ones with bad handwriting and poor communication skills. Where meanings aren't clear this is important, but how about being a bit more relaxed when it doesn't matter?
Mr. Wizard
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I agree with leu. We all stray from the 'golden path' occasionally, and an occasional misspelled word or errant keystroke can easily be tolerated, if the content is worthwhile. At least we should try to maintain good grammar, spelling, and content.

If the next Newton, Einstein, or Faraday makes his appearance on this site we will all tolerate his quirks.

This is not intended as a criticism of those who use English as a second language. Those who are fluent enough to post in another language have my admiration. They often convey their ideas better than some English native speakers.
ethan_c
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 Quote: Originally posted by Marvin That would be, 'Sciencemadness'. I'm not convinced this is helpful. I'd swap a higher level of science for a higher level of grammer any day and it isn't like real scientific texts don't use abbr. and decade sensitive terminology that needs translating for a lot of people. If nothing else, real doctors and scientists are usually the ones with bad handwriting and poor communication skills. Where meanings aren't clear this is important, but how about being a bit more relaxed when it doesn't matter?

*grammar. :-D

Disclaimer: Phil Z seems to be one of the most knowledgeable people I have ever encountered, but god help him if he ever has to take a sentence structure exam.
Nicodem
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What I hate most:
• not using references or links to the pasted text and citations, or in support of the bold claims
• purposeful disregard of a scientific attitude and discourse
• purposeful disregard of the subcultural context of the forum, its rules and posting off (forum) topic
• no capitalization, delirious text and not even taking the effort to spell check before posting
• incomprehensible kewlish talk
• use of abbreviations that are not considered general (it would be acceptable if at least in the first appearance in a thread the abbreviation would be explained)
• schizophrenic writing in third person like: “Swim was dreaming of cooking up some…”

Certainly there are other things that I don’t like but these were the first to come to mind. They are not all about grammar but I believe that someone who continues to do these things even after being told not to do so is certainly not going to contribute much.

…there is a human touch of the cultist “believer” in every theorist that he must struggle against as being unworthy of the scientist. Some of the greatest men of science have publicly repudiated a theory which earlier they hotly defended. In this lies their scientific temper, not in the scientific defense of the theory. - Weston La Barre (Ghost Dance, 1972)

vulture
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Okay, am I the only one who laughed his bum (this one is for the brits )off reading this text?

One shouldn't accept or resort to the mutilation of science to appease the mentally impaired.
Fleaker
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No, I was right with you on this one Org!

Sad part is--I'm guilty of many of those offences. But we all mess up occasionally, right? There are a few other wanker-like qualities our friendly grammar Nazi should have mentioned.

"Disclaimer: Phil Z seems to be one of the most knowledgeable people I have ever encountered, but god help him if he ever has to take a sentence structure exam. "

Very true. He is absolutely brilliant. Keep in mind that English isn't his first language.
indigofuzzy
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Ok. It's time for my pet peeve:

Not everyone who writes, thinks, or does science is male.

Some examples:
"A real wanker considers his time infinitely more valuable than his reader's. "

What if said writer-turned-wanker is a woman?

"If the next Newton, Einstein, or Faraday makes his appearance on this site we will all tolerate his quirks."

And what if the next Marie Curie made her appearance? Would we tolerate her quirks?

On a positive note, however, I must commend leu on his/her correct use of what appears to be an em dash.
Hooray for unicode!

[Edited on 10.7.2006 by indigofuzzy]

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Mr. Wizard
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 Quote: Originally posted by indigofuzzy Ok. It's time for my pet peeve: Not everyone who writes, thinks, or does science is male. Hooray for unicode!

Thank you for that amazing information. My pet peeve, if anyone cares, and I'm sure nobody does, are people who want me to feel guilty about using normal accepted grammar, and insist on trying to make victims out of half the people in the world. "Oh I'm so suppressed, unvalidated, unrecognized, unappreciated, unloved, underpaid, unlistened to, smart, marginalized and generally pissed off"; join the club.

When her theory or breakthrough makes it's big debute, I'm sure she won't mind telling us her gender if it's so important to her, and we can't guess by looking. If you read the sentence, Newton, Einstein, and Faraday were all men so the pronoun he is correct. Try substituting he/she or she/he she/he/it in the sentence and listen to how ridiculous it sounds.
indigofuzzy
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How about substituting "(s)he", or if you'd prefer to avoid the shift key, "s/he". I have seen both of these in print and neither is nearly so distracting as seeing "he or she," or "he/she."

Also, many people these days substitute "they" for "he/she" and "their" for "his/her." I see this as reasonable, seeing as the english language has no widely accepted gender-neutral pronoun. (Although "Ze" has been suggested. [source needed for backup])

And I assume, Mr. Wizard, that you're not offended by referencing people of unspecified gender with the male pronoun because you happen to be male. (Unless, of course, your screenname does not reflect your actual gender.)

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Chris The Great
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That was pretty damn funny. Although some of it I am afraid to see I've seen far too often on the net...

SWIM likes talking in the third person, it keeps all his mind together. At least that's what SWIM told me. Sometimes I wonder about that little law breaking fellow.
not_important
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 Quote: Originally posted by indigofuzzy ... Also, many people these days substitute "they" for "he/she" and "their" for "his/her." I see this as reasonable, seeing as the english language has no widely accepted gender-neutral pronoun. (Although "Ze" has been suggested. [source needed for backup]) ...

"they" and "one" are standard English for indefinite or neutral usage

A asked "How might one kill themself in a horrible fashion?"

"They might drink hydrofluoric acid", B replied.

"Ah, that would be most unpleasant for them, wouldn't it." responded A.

Ze or Zie/Zir is used; Sie/hir is another, older combination, as well as shi, xe, ve, and thon. All seem to feel unnatural to a native born English speaker. Or we could all speak in Finnish, Hungarian, Turkish, , Tamil, Tagalog, or Malay. Or maybe Novial, or type in aUI.
Mr. Wizard
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 Quote: Originally posted by indigofuzzy How about substituting "(s)he", or if you'd prefer to avoid the shift key, "s/he". I have seen both of these in print and neither is nearly so distracting as seeing "he or she," or "he/she."

How about not worrying about it? If the gender of the subject is important it will be specified. This isn't about language, this is about somebody's lack of self esteem and trying to make himself and his point of view, more important. It's whining. ( How about substituting she's/ he's/ it's whining ?) The whole concept adds bulk but no meaning to communication.
 Quote: Also, many people these days substitute "they" for "he/she" and "their" for "his/her." I see this as reasonable, seeing as the english language has no widely accepted gender-neutral pronoun. (Although "Ze" has been suggested. [source needed for backup])

Using they or their just confuses the singular and the plural, and lends an air of ignorance. The reason we don't have a gender neutral pronoun is because we don't need another one. The word: it, fills the need. Language tends to drop unneeded extra words, just like a well trained athlete drops extra pounds. English is a great example of that. Have you ever looked at the written instructions for any product in English and another language. The English version always takes up much less space.

 Quote: And I assume, Mr. Wizard, that you're not offended by referencing people of unspecified gender with the male pronoun because you happen to be male. (Unless, of course, your screenname does not reflect your actual gender.)

Now we get to the real reasons, or agenda, right? I could make some assumptions too, but I won't.
indigofuzzy
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 Quote: Using they or their just confuses the singular and the plural, and lends an air of ignorance.

And using the male pronoun for people of indeterminate gender doesn't lend an air of ignorance?

One thing I suppose I need to throw in: I'm not trying to be so radical as to change the spelling of woman and women to wommon and womyn respectively, nor am I trying to change person to persun, or history to herstory, or anything like that.

Over an issue you'd prefer one not to worry about, you sure do use a lot of keystrokes to try to prove this isn't worth worrying about. Therefore, it seems to me that you're worrying about it.

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 Quote: Originally posted by indigofuzzy Not everyone who writes, thinks, or does science is male. [fine, but most are] Some examples: "A real wanker considers his time infinitely more valuable than his reader's. " [exactly the point, and one clearly in view] What if said writer-turned-wanker is a woman? [so what?] "If the next Newton, Einstein, or Faraday makes his appearance on this site we will all tolerate his quirks." And what if the next Marie Curie made her appearance? Would we tolerate her quirks? [it would not make a difference!] [Edited on 10.7.2006 by indigofuzzy]

If said Newton, Einstein, Faraday or Marie Curie; makes their appearence on such forums as those in view, the reader will quickly ignore the misuse of language, as said individual fails to show such gastly qualities as that which initiated our discussion.

now that is a most erronomous paragraph: but it satifies the criteria as a readable, thoughtful clause, without flame and one that is gender non-specific.
Mr. Wizard
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You're right, I'm wasting my time. Do whatever you want.
ziqquratu
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Using "he" (and variations thereof) as a gender-neutral pronoun is an accepted and standard usage in English. Maybe it comes from a gender-biased background, but ultimately that doesnt matter in a modern context.

Let's go with a slightly hyperbolic example here. The swastika was a symbol of peace or prosperity or something along those lines LONG before the Nazi's bastardised it, and yet "peace" would most likely NOT be among the first things you think of if discussing it (at least not if you're from a Western country. It still holds a lot of its old connotation in the East, I believe). In any case, we again have an example where a historical (original) usage bears minimal relation to the widely accepted modern context.

It's quite likely that you could find something more worthy to get offended or upset over rather than a widely used and accepted triviality which may or may not be (who can be bothered with the research?) derived from an age well in the past.

Don't know about everyone else here, but I'm rather over the whole politically correct thing. So much easier (in most cases, there are always exceptions) to say what you think than to waste time worrying over who MIGHT be offended. Methinks the world would be a much happier place if everone relaxed a little and tried not to take offence at every little percieved slight!
The_Davster
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 Quote: Originally posted by ziqquratu Don't know about everyone else here, but I'm rather over the whole politically correct thing. So much easier (in most cases, there are always exceptions) to say what you think than to waste time worrying over who MIGHT be offended. Methinks the world would be a much happier place if everone relaxed a little and tried not to take offence at every little percieved slight!

Amen.

http://darwinawards.com/ikon/faq.banner.html
Is interesting to the context of this thread before the gender stuff came into play.

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