e-mail jargon - translation needed

Nov 22nd, 2000, 12:42 PM
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Lisa, URAOK.
Nov 22nd, 2000, 03:52 PM
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Haveaniceday: I loved yours.
Nov 24th, 2000, 08:11 AM
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Thanks for all the interesting historical info re: the origins of these symbols, for the admissions that their current use is often for purposes less noble than communicating the content of the message, and for some of the more imaginative contributions (e.g., the little head and the two upturned hands). I only posted the question after finally figuring out what most of these things mean. But there's one thing I don't get...with all these people on this board jumping to the conclusion that every other poster who asks a question in an unsophisticated or brash or unidiomatic way MUST be a "troll" why didn't anyone (justly) "accuse" me of being a "troll"? Should I feel insulted or complimented?
Thanks again,
Recovering Technophobe, aka Proud, aka Technophobophilic, aka Mr. Dictionary, aka Old Fogey, aka Theartcritic
Nov 24th, 2000, 08:17 AM
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Oh, and aka xxx, too.
Dec 23rd, 2000, 07:11 AM
4U, Carin
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Hi, Carin from St. Matthias School,

This is for you. I had some of the same questions, but I was sort of a "troll" when I asked them and kept playing with the responses.

With best wishes,

The nearly recovered technophobe
Dec 23rd, 2000, 11:49 AM
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Neville, Cockney backslang? We call it pig Latin.
Dec 24th, 2000, 02:49 PM
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>} = not sure what to think

0 0 = worried
Dec 24th, 2000, 06:24 PM
above, forgot my name
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The top one changed after i posted it.
Feb 7th, 2001, 08:53 AM
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Apr 2nd, 2001, 07:56 PM
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what does BTW mean?
Apr 2nd, 2001, 08:04 PM
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by the way
Apr 2nd, 2001, 08:08 PM
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BTW means "by the way"

ROFLMAO means "Rolling On the Floor Laughing My Ass Off"....one of my favs...

Apr 4th, 2001, 08:28 PM
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What do the letters in SPAM stand for?
Apr 5th, 2001, 12:40 PM
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Good question. What does SPAM stand for? Rex?
Apr 5th, 2001, 01:19 PM
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Spam, a registered trademark of the Hormel Food Corporation is a term given to unsolicited, mass e-mailing to addresses obtained without the consent of their owners. Curiously, there seems to be no similar term for direct mail (i.e., "junk mail") - - perhaps because, unlike e-mail, each piece of direct mail has to physically exist, and has its own printing, handling and postage costs. E-mail typically does not.

In this context, spam is a reference to something that may or may not have these characteristics; Hormel surely does not think that any of these refer to their product(s).

1. Easily mass-produced, can be thinly sliced to make seemingly infinite identical copies.

2. Of questionable, unsavory or undesirable content.

3. Nobody wants it.

Interestingly, long before e-mail achieved its current popularity, some forms of medical (or other scientific?) research were sometimes labeled "salami-sliced" - - meaning that the contents of one study were thinly "packaged" into the "least publishable unit(s)" - - and producing another manuscript was likened to slicing off another piece of salami. Since e-mail became popular in academic circles well before it hit the broader "outside" world, I suspect that the term spam - - referring to mass broadcast e-mail - - is derived in some way from this older phrase.

Although I have often been accused of "spamming" this board, I have never sent a mass broadcast of e-mail to any addresses obtained from this forum.

In the fall of 1999, I was frantic to replace a couple who backed out of a trip 5 weeks before departure. We had agreed to split a villa together, and I was left with the fully pre-paid cost all to myself. I mailed an announcement (which was totally NON-commercial) to a large alumni group, and I got a swift kick in the pants for that. An important lesson learned, which I have carefully heeded ever since.

Curiously enough, sending spam is generally not illegal, although misappropriation of publicly available e-mail addresses - - from an institution that experssly forbids it - - could be the basis of a civil lawsuit.

To the best of my knowledge, there is no appropriate comparison - - in a legal, moral or even etiquette sense - - to posting messages on a public message board. Fodor's has never suggested that there are limits to the number of messages a person might post, nor have they ever contacted me about this.
Apr 5th, 2001, 03:06 PM
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It's a very interesting theory, Rex!

However, the term spam in its Internet context is generally believed to have come from a Monty Python skit:

Mrs. Bun: (over Vikings starting again) Could you do me egg, bacon, spam and sausage without the spam then?

Waitress: Ech!

Mrs. Bun: What do you mean ech! I don't like spam!

Vikings: Lovely spam, wonderful spam....etc

Waitress: Shut up! Shut up! Shut up! Bloody vikings. You can't have egg, bacon, spam and sausage without the spam.

Mrs. Bun: I don't like spam!

Mr. Bun: Shh dear, don't cause a fuss. I'll have your spam. I love it. I'm having spam, spam, spam, spam, spam, spam, spam, baked beans, spam, spam, spam and spam. (starts Vikings off again)

Vikings: Lovely spam, wonderful spam...etc


Spam simply means unsolicited e-mail or, in the context of USENET newsgroups, excess posting or cross-posting (i.e., posting the same message repeatedly, or posting it to multiple discussion groups instead of just one)

I have only one more thing to say.

"...and spam spam spam spam spam!"

- Quicksilver -
Apr 5th, 2001, 03:49 PM
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If the derivation does have this Monty Python origin, I guess I don't get it - - how does it relate in any way to the undesirable characteristics of unsolicited e-mail?

And I agree that - - especially on stock market message boards - - the posting of the same stock newsletter message (advertisment) on hundreds of boards - - regardless of what is the stock - - is often called spamming.

In that context, the only spammer I have ever seen on this forum is the "case learning system" message about Danish, Swedish, etc tapes, or something like that.
Apr 5th, 2001, 03:55 PM
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Interesting, QS. I'd always assumed it was an acronym, but I just couldn't figure out what S, P, and A stood for. (I'd guessed that M might = mail.)
Apr 5th, 2001, 06:53 PM
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Don't know whether I'm remembering the same skit or another SPAM-based Python skit, but: it involved ordering in a restaurant that was, ultimately, out of everything. One of the several punch lines was something like, "all right then, I'll have spam with spam and some spam spam spam...." The relationship to being flooded with unsolicited, unwanted, "nonnutritional" email is that when someone sends out spam, they do so in mass quantities and indiscriminantly. Whaht you receive is a mass-produced bit of unappetizing garbage.
Apr 5th, 2001, 07:55 PM
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I see now that the Monty Python explanation is rampant across the internet. It is cited so often that I can't get a handle on who had the original thought suggesting its connection to the current usage, referring to unsolicited e-mail.

But I do wonder if academics, in science and medicine (and many of these are peoople, who, early in their careeers would have been BIG Monty Python fans) - - may have contributed to perpetuating it. The notion of salami slicing or the least publishable unit was already in widespread parlance when Dr. Marcia Angell (went on to be eexecutive editor of the New England Journal of Medicine) - - spoke about it in this publication, in 1986:

Angell, M. "Publish or Perish: A Proposal." Annals of Internal Medicine, Vol. 104, No. 2 (February 1986), pp. 261-262.

I don't know if this is a reliable source, but the following web sites



credit the spam sketch to

Monty Python
The Final Rip Off

Copyright: 1987, Virgin - Stock Number: 2-90865 CD MP1

Another source


credits it to

The Spam Sketch

from the second series of "Monty Python's Flying Circus" and "Monty Python's Previous Record"

which may take it back to the early 1970's.

The Monty Python discography at


lists "Spam" as a track (cut?) on the 1971 album,

(1970) Charisma Records Ltd., CAS 1049 (U.K.)

How long have USENET groups been in existence?

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