By: Charles Bowen
Like slang and jargon everywhere, the language of the Internet always has been EXclusive rather than INclusive. After all, as the Little Rascals taught us all those years ago, what fun is a club that lets everybody in?
Fortunately, those of us in the business of opening rather than closing doors are finding that the Web also can be quite adept at translating even the most obscure bits of Net-speak. You just have to know how to ask it.
A site called NetLingo provides an online dictionary of literally thousands of common — and not-so-common — Internet terms and definitions that describe the technology and community of the Web. Easy to navigate, the site gives you definitions when you click on terms on a scrollable list. Not only will the site be useful for reporters and editors who are working on Net-centric stories, but it also is one site you might want to share with your readers in your Internet-oriented columns.
To start looking up Web words, visit the site at http://www.netlingo.com, where an “Open the Online Dictionary” link greets you at the top of the introductory page. Click on it to get down to business.
On the resulting screen, an alphabetized, hyperlinked list of terms is displayed in a frame on the left column. Scroll it to find the term you want and click. The definition then is shown in the right-hand panel. Of particular value to Net newcomers will be the site’s emphasis on the oh-so-clever cyber-slang.
And often the definitions contain clickable cross-references. For instance, NetLingo’s entry for “CancelBunny” reads: “A nickname for people who delete Usenet messages posted to newsgroups (they claim because of copyright infringement). The CancelBunny (also known as CancelPoodle) cancels other people’s posts, taking advantage of a loophole in the overall Usenet posting mechanism.” Acknowledging that the definition itself contains a bit of jargon, the site provides cross references in this entry to the words “posted” and “newsgroups” and to the name “Usenet.”
The terms and definitions in online dictionaries come from various sources. Some are widely used standard technical terms that have simply been indexed and further defined or edited over the years. Other bits of jargon and phrases come from authoritative sources on a particular subject, while most of the acronyms are contributed by NetLingo users themselves. A “Search This Site” link at the bottom of the main screen will enable you to navigate the resource faster. A resulting screen offers a search term box and, for browsing, a clickable alphabet that lets you jump to various initial letters for words.
You also can use the page to scan the dictionary’s assorted categories of words. Click the drop-down menu and select a category (choosing from topics such as Net Technology, Net Software, Hacker Jargon, Web Design, Error Message, and so on), then click on the adjacent “Look Up.”
Other considerations for using NetLingo in your writing and editing:
1. NetLingo was launched in 1995 in New York by Vincent James and Erin Jansen. It’s now owned and operated by NetLingo Inc. with offices in California.
2. The site uses a series of legends and icons in its definitions to facilitate navigation, including “Done” to take you back to the home page, “More Info” for additional text on a subject, and “FAQ” to access the site’s answers to frequently asked questions about a topic.
3. In addition, a definition includes a “Download” link meaning there is a program or two available that corresponds with an entry. This will link to a site outside the NetLingo service.