4chan has been in the news recently, as the site that hosted hacked photographs of naked celebrities, including Jennifer Lawrence (you may have heard about this). But what is 4chan? Well, basically, it’s an aesthetically-ugly-as-sin image board which allows users to post pretty much anything. It was started by a teenage boy in his bedroom (obviously), originally as a means of sharing manga and anime.

Nowadays there are various boards dedicated to: gaming, porn, cosplay, and more porn. 4chan is pretty much a destination for trolls, lulz-seekers and fapping idiots, given that everybody posts anonymously. To be fair, there are also boards on fashion and music, and lolcats did originate on 4chan – so at least there’s one redeeming thing about it.

sanya 4chan
4chan was originally set up to share manga and anime. Photograph: 4chan/Strike Witches

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2048widely successful sliding block puzzle game for web, iOS and Android

2 Girls 1 Cup – something you should never ever watch, and definitely NSFW. I’m not even linking to it. Do not Google.

404 – a not found error, when server cannot find content (eg. dead link, page deleted)

501 – not implemented error, for instance if a server is not responding or overloaded

9GAG platform for uploading and sharing user-made memes, gifs, images and videos, upvoted or downvoted and can be commented upon


Is there anything there isn’t an app for? Whatever operating system you are using, there will be tons of apps to download for your smartphone. Useful, entirely frivolous, well designed, badly designed, addictive games, fitness trackers – you name it.

Apps perfectly complement the web; lots of us access the internet more frequently by phone than desktop, especially when it comes to social media. And what did we do without Google Maps on our phones? How did we ever find our way anywhere? Did we all just end up in some poor dear’s garden when looking for an unfamiliar bus route while slightly worse for wear on a Saturday night? (Yes.)

Apps, food, water = survival. Photograph: FocusMedia/Alamy

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a/s/l what people used to write in chatrooms when asking for someone’s age, sex and location, before everybody knew everything about everyone on the internet

Adele DazeemJohn Travolta hilariously mispronounces Idina Menzel’s name at 2014 Oscars, incident goes viral

advice animalsimage macro (image with humorous text) memes that feature animals or humans with caption text above and below, sometimes with a colourwheel as background

Advice Dog – the original advice animal, consists of a cute puppy head on colourwheel background, giving advice that is either wrongheaded, ridiculous or unethical

Alexa – commerical traffic metrics and analytics site owned by Amazon

alt.folklore.urbanknown as AFU, alt.folklore.urban is a newsgroup on Usenet focused towards discussion of urban legend. One regular poster has since set up Snopes

Angry Birds – Finnish-designed video game which has flown off the app store shelves (over 12 million downloads on iOS). Gameplay in the original title consists of using a slingshot to fire wingless birds at pigs. There have been nine more incarnations

anime – 2D or 3D cartoon style originated in Japan, very popular online. Can be hand drawn or computer drawn

AnonIB – image board similar to 4chan, frequented by hackers and trolls

Anonymous – a vague network of hacktavists often in the news for their DDoS (distributed denial of service) attacks and trademark Guy Fawkes masks. The loosely-organised collective originated on 4chan around 2003. Anonymous have targeted corporations such as Visa, as well as criminals such as child pornographers. Anonymous tend to differ from another hacking collective, LulzSec, by performing their attacks for political, activist reasons.

“Anons” often wear Guy Fawkes masks, as popularised in V for Vendetta. Photograph: Action Press / Rex Features/Action Press / Rex Features

AOL – American multinational dealing in media, tech, online and digital

API – acronym for application programming interface. Essentially a set of code, tools and protocols which provide instructions for applications to communicate with one another. Basically APIs make your life easier by allowing programs to talk to one another

Apple – electronics and computing multinational responsible for iEverything

Ars Technica – tech news website established in 1998. Edward Snowden started his online life on the Ars Technica forum, posting as a user called TheTrueHOOHA

Ask.comformerly Ask Jeeves, it’s a question-formatted search engine. Jeeves was most popular in the late 90s, when for a little while its butler mascot was sort of the face of the internet. If you haven’t guessed that he was based on PG Wodehouse’s character then you need to spend less time on the internet and more time reading books

ask.fm – anonymous question and answer forum, has come under fire for being the ideal platform for cyberbullies, and apparently, Islamic State fighters

avatar – graphical representation of an individual eg. in games, a character. On social media: an icon or profile picture


When something internet-related makes it as a plot line on The Good Wife, you know it’s really hit the mainstream. Bitcoin is a crypto-currency, which circumnavigates banks and credit card companies. A bitcoin is transferred from person to person via the internet. Bitcoins are bought and sold and kept in a digital wallet to avoid the double spending problem. But if that all seems a bit opaque, just watch our handy explainer, below.

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badboy2internet meme started when a user posted a photo on a body-building forum captioned “I’m 18, do I have potential?” – cue humorous, good natured photoshops galore

Bad Luck Brianmeme started in 2012, featuring a teen in plaid sweater vest and braces, befalling a series of embarrassing situations

Bebosocial network founded in 2005. Currently trying to make a comeback

Bejeweled – tile-matching game for mobile downloaded over 150 million times, copied by Candy Crush Saga

beta – in technology terms, beta is a term used to describe a trial-and-error period of a product or service, or a prototype before the fully realised thing

belfie – “a bum selfie” ie. a self-portrait of one’s butt. *headdesk*

bitlya popular URL-shortener and link analytics site

Bing – web search engine created by Microsoft

bit – a bit, short for binary digit, is the smallest unit of information in a computer

bitrate – the number of bits per second that can be transmitted along a digital network, ie. the speed at which units of information can be transferred

BitTorrenta service that speeds up downloads by breaking files up between fellow users. It is an original torrent protocol supporting P2P data and file sharing. “Torrent” means a file that contains metadata; protocol is a format or set of rules for sharing data across networks, and P2P here means peer-to=peer

Blogger blog-publishing platform established in 1999 by Google, which uses blogspot.com subdomain

bounce rate – the bounce rate is a measure in traffic analysis which describes whether users leave the site straight away after visiting, or stay on the site. So the bounce rate is a percentage of people who only view one page

brb – acronym meaning “be right back”

browser - a web browser is software application for viewing content on the world wide web, eg. Internet Explorer, Chrome, Firefox, Safari

Buffer – web and mobile app to manage social networks, especially scheduled posting

bump – to revisit an old thread or posting on a forum by posting in it, thus “bumping” it to the top (especially employed if you receive no answer)

Buzzfeed internet media company, originially famed for listicles and gifs, has since expanded into news, political and investigative reportage


Clickbait is the media’s new obsession. Sometimes called linkbait, the word “clickbait” describes online content which is judged to be mostly lighthearted, less than robust and primarily focused towards hoovering up traffic. Basically, clickbait is geared towards getting people to click through to an article.

Headlines therefore attempt to respond to the “curiousity gap” a reader experiences when they see a headline which doesn’t explain the full context of a story, but does pique the reader’s interest enough for them to click. This can either be an intriguing statement or a question. Positive, feel-good stories are also a big part of clickbait, as are CAPITAL letters and exclamation marks!!!

upworthy headline
An example of a ‘curiosity gap’ headline. Photograph: Upworthy

Buzzfeed, and especially Upworthy, have pioneered the clickbait-y content and title type. Upworthy’s headlines, while at first interesting just for their novelty factor, have since become so annoying that it is estimated at least 17 people a week are killed being hit by computers thrown from windows in a rage. (“Click Here to Find Out the Strange Way 17 People Died This Week.”) Clickbait’s ultimate aim is to be shared, shared again ie. GO VIRAL.

The Onion started Clickhole, a site which parodies clickbait. A Twitter account, SavedYouAClick has a mission to do exactly that, writing the answers to particularly clickbait-y headline questions.

What. RT @Gawker: Is this amusement park ride giving women orgasms, or what?

— Saved You A Click (@SavedYouAClick) September 2, 2014

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Candy Crush Saga tile-matching based game originally developed for Facebook, then mobile OS (operating systems). Often found on the Northern Line

CAPTCHA those squiggly, distorted letters or digits one is required to type to prove humanness

chain emails – horrible period of the 90s when bored office workers would send round robins of multicoloured comic sans messages or begging letters from parents with Münchausen by proxy

Chatroulette – a chat website which pairs users randomly via their webcams. Created by a Russian 17-year-old, features a lot of masturbating men

Chrome – web browser developed by Google

Clickhole – parody clickbait site from the people behind The Onion

clearnet – what people who use hidden internet applications call the regular net, also known as the “surface web”. The clearnet is indexed by search engines

cloud – file storage where data is spread across several servers and locations, often accessed via the internet

cookies – data sent from a website to a user’s web browser. It is a way for websites to record and stores users’ activity on that website

Courage Wolf advice animal meme giving inspirational, but extreme, advice

CSS a computer language used to style web sites, and also a band popular in the mid 00s

cyberbullyingwhen idiots think it is ok to bully people online – most victims being kids in high school – via social networks and messaging apps


The meme which took the world by storm towards the end of 2013, and had us all chasing our tail in early 2014 about what the hell it all meant. Doge is the best kind of meme in that it shouldn’t be funny, but it is.

“It involves superimposing broken English written in multi-coloured Comic Sans on to pictures of shiba inus, a small Japanese breed of dog known for its spirited stubbornness”, explains Alex Hern.

It’s a rare example of a dog leading a meme, as opposed to the much more internet-friendly cat (as explained here by Buzzfeed’s Jack Shepherd). Doge became such a staple of internet culture that it inspired Dogecoin (a variation of Bitcoin), which has so far funded a Jamaican bobsleigh team and a rally car in the NASCAR race. Such impressive. Very wow.

An example of the doge meme. Photograph: KnowYourMeme.com

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Daatch mobile dating app for lesbian women

dark internetnetwork hosts on the internet that are unreachable, often confused with deep web. Dark internet is a subsection of the deep web

DAUs – “daily active users” of a website or internet product

Death Clockpopular website in the 90s predicting one’s date of death, according to their date of birth (bullshit, naturally)

deep web uses hidden internet apps to protect one from web crawlers and maintain privacy given search engines cannot access this content

DDoS distributed denial of service attack, used by hackers to down a network, often by causing server overload. “Distributed” means the attack is coming from multiple machines

deviantARTonline community to share user-made artwork

Disapora – a nonprofit social network consisting of interconnected pods

Digga news aggregator website for sharing popular content

DM – short for direct message, as on Twitter

dog shamingviral trend consisting of people taking pictures of their dogs next to handwritten signs detailing their dogs’ indiscretions

dog shaming
An example of ‘dog shaming’. Photograph: Dogshaming.com

doxingdumping a load of someone’s personal data online. The people who do this are the worst

Draw Something – social drawing game originally developed for mobile, in which players guess what a friend has sketched. Bought by Zynga for $180 million

Dropboxservice offering cloud storage and file synchronisation across mulitple platforms


Oh wow; the amount of time/money/stress we’ve all expended on ebay. Who hasn’t found themselves staring at a screen at 2am, lightly dusted in Doritos crumbs, furiously refreshing the page to see if theirs is the winning bid on that original Spice Girls cassette from 96? Or constantly refreshing, sweating, hopin’ and a-prayin’ that someone outbids you, because you’ve blown your wages on a “french shabby chic armchair’” which is bigger than the actual square footage of your flat?

The arrival of eBay’s app has just exacerbated this problem. Since eBay (originally called AuctionWeb) was founded in 1995, the following items have been listed for sale: F/A-18 Hornet fighter jet, Britney Spears’ hair, New Zealand, Nicolas Cage as a vampire, a ghost in a jar, and, er, the meaning of life.

That time a cast of Pavarotti’s left leg was for sale. Photograph: eBay

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Edward Snowdensource of the biggest classified information leak in history, exposing NSA and GCHQ snooping, and other worldwide surveillance operations

egosurferperson who Googles themselves or otherwise displays self-obsessed behaviour online

ELI5(explain like I’m 5) a subreddit where users can go to get concepts explained simply

email – things you should never answer when on holiday

encryption – encoding information so that only authorised peeps can see it

emoji ideograms, basically the lil’ graphic icons sent online and by text

emoticon – :-) :-( :-/ :-O :-s <3

Ermahgerdmeme which consists of a girl with a brace and pigtails holding a series of Goosebumps books overlayed with phrases spelt phonetically. Nobody said memes were easy to understand


Small social network, which is struggling to get off the ground. So far only has 1.23 billion monthly active users, but I’m sure its founder Mark Zuckerberg will make it a success eventually.

One day it will take off, a film might possibly be made of its origins, with a supporting role for Justin Timberlake. In an ideal world, it’d be floated on the stock market for $38 dollars a share, with a company value of $104 billion. Unfathomably, Zuckerberg will become a fashion icon for his navy hoodies and pool sliders, inspiring a whole new style called normcore. Then, people will start posting annoying statuses on the site, sharing boring links, and grandparents will join, driving you – weeping – into the arms of Twitter.

facebook fail
Facebook is a constant source of hilarity. Photograph: FacebookFail.com

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fanfictionstories about fictional characters, often written in online fanfic communities and forums. Harry Potter and Twilight prove very popular

Farmvilleonline game developed by Zynga, in which users tend to a virtual farm

fav – the option to “favourite’ a tweet”, can be used for bookmarking, or as way of saying “I like this but not enough to retweet it, soz”

feed – data format which provides constantly updated content (Twitter and Facebook use these, for example)

Feedly – a popular news aggregation app for both web and mobile

ffs – acronym meaning “for fuck’s sake”

FF – a hashtag employed on Twitter, only on Fridays, to highlight good accounts to follow (stands for “follow Friday”)

Firefoxfree and open source web browser developed by Mozilla

First World Problems – meme focusing on irritants and complaints from privileged people, otherwise known as “white whine”

Flappy Birdhugely popular side-scrolling 2D game for mobile devices

flappy bird
Screenshot from Flappy Bird game. Photograph: REX

Flickr – popular image and video hosting website with a social element, now also for mobile. Used by professionals as well as amateurs

Flipboard – a “personal magazine app” which aggregates articles and news into a magazine-like format on mobile devices

fmlacronym for “fuck my life”, used in a humorous context when things go wrong

Foursquaresearch-and-discover mobile app, allows users to review destinations and places and leave comments, resulting in personalised recommendations

Friends Reunited – one of the first popular “social networks”, Friends Reunited is still going, connecting high school sweethearts everywhere (in the UK)

ftw acronym for “for the win”

fwmacronym for “fuck with me”

furry – a “furry” is someone who is interested in anthropomorphic animal characters. Idk either but there are huge online communities out there


Gifs have acquired a bad rep, namely because people who don’t like BuzzFeed and other gif-reliant sites get fed up with them, but the truth is gifs are awesome. That the whole range of human emotions can be captured in a moving image around 2MB in size is a wonderful thing indeed. Or – as below – a raccoon stealing cat food from directly under the nose of a cat.

There’s also some controversy (or should that be contro-versy) as to how gif is actually pronounced. The inventor of the gif has gone on record saying that it is “gif” with a soft g. So naturally 99% of us have decided to pronounce it gif with a hard g.

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g2g – slang meaning “got to go”. Wish we could use in real life, tbh

Gchatchap application within Gmail (Google’s email application) which gets us all through the working day

GeoCitiesa web hosting service currently owned by Yahoo! which was home to many shoddy user-built websites in the 90s, grouped in “cities”

Giphy – one of the best gif databases around

Good Guy Gregadvice animal meme which consists of a photo of a smiling guy smoking a marijuana joint, characterised by kind or genuine acts and behaviour

Googlenever heard of it. Anybody?

Google+Google’s social network which, at the last count, had three active users

GrindrHook-up app for gay and bisexual men, uses geolocation tools (ie. determines the locations of users, and recommends those nearby)

Gramfeed – an app which uses Instagram’s API to pull together images on the social network by location, user, or time and date

Grooveshark free radio and music streaming website. Copyright violations led to its app incarnation being removed from Google Play and Apple’s app stores

Grumpy Catfamous internet cat with a perma-grumpy appearance, is all of our spirit animal


Back in the olden days a hash symbol was just a neglected button on your landline phone. Now, a hashtag is an inherent part of how we communicate online. A hashtag is the simplest form of metadata tag which allows users on social networks (in particular Twitter, Facebook and Instagram) to categorise their posted content into subject matter or topic, and allows other users to search for these. Essentially, hashtags act as signifiers (shout out to Roland Barthes).

In 2014, the term was added to the Oxford English Dictionary. Hashtags can be used at the beginning of posts, mid-post, or at the end. It doesn’t really matter – as long as they’re not 134 characters long in a 140-character limited tweet, which is just annoying. Trending hashtags can be related to pop culture subjects, or be utilised for more political purposes. Mostly though, they’re just about 5SOS or One Direction.

#Hashtag skit with Jimmy Fallon and Justin Timberlake.

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Habbo Hotel – now known as Habbo, HH was an online hangout for teens allowing users to create their own avatars and socialise in an online “hotel” and hotel rooms. As a former user, I’ve only just realised how dodgy a concept this is

hacktivism – the use of hacking and other computer processes for political ends

Hampster Dance

– otherwise known as the dancing hamster. The Hampster Dance was a video of animated hamsters dancing to a version of Whistle Stop, a song by Roger Miller

headdesk – portmanteau slang to describe slamming your head on your desk in frustration and/or disbelief, usually at someone else’s stupidity

hmuacronym meaning “hit me up” ie. get in touch with me

Hootsuite – social media management dashboard

Hotmail – acquired by Microsoft in 97, was then one of the most popular email clients, since much cooled. In 2013 Hotmail was replaced with Outlook.com

Hyperlapse – time-lapse video app for mobile, developed by Instagram

hyperlink – a normal link, basically. (Some people like to sound clever)


Often disparaged because of the number of people using the social mobile photography app to take pictures of their lunch, the main concern here should be how Instagram is fucking with future historians.

How will the Dan Snows of 2050 be able to tell when pictures were taken, if they’re all a mixture of sepia, 70s grain and washed-out hues? Basically, 2014 will look the same as 1972 through the lens of Instagram (ok, so pictures have time and date stamps, but ssh, you know what I mean).

Of course, the truth is Instagram is rather a charming app which has brought easy, fun and quick photography to the masses, murdering the point-and-shoot market in cold blood. Plus, everybody’s life looks better in Easybird. Instagram now also supports video function, and was acquired by Facebook for $1 billion in 2012.

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I Can Has Cheezburger?a website featuring lolcats and other memes, which now also owns sites KnowYourMeme.com and FAILblog

ice bucket challenge – 2014 viral campaign to raise awareness of motor neurone disease, via celebrities pouring buckets of ice-cold water onto their heads

IM – short for instant message

Imgurpronounced “imager” – but I still say it “imger” – the site curates images and sorts them relative to popularity. They often end up going viral on reddit

Impact font – the font of choice for advice animals and many memes

Indiegogo – crowdfunding site founded in 2008

infographicpictorial representation of data and information often used online

IRC internet relay chat, the protocol that allows IMs

IRL – acronym for “in real life” ie. offline


Javascript is essentially the programming language of the web. It is mostly used to create interactive elements on websites, which will work across different web browsers. Most of those snazzy polls and quizzes and interactive widgets on the websites you look at during lunch are probably built with JavaScript code. Unlike HTML for instance, JavaScript is not a markup code used for static elements. HTML and JavaScript, however, can be bedfellows and sit in the same file, usually by using the <script> tag.

An example of JavaScript code. Photograph: codeobssessed.com

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j/konline slang for just kidding, joke or joking

Justin.tv – was a website for allowing users to stream video online, separated into channels, closed in August 2014

Justpaste.itweb text and image sharing service, recently in the news due to its popularity amongst Islamic State fighters as a means for propagandising

JQueryfree open source JavaScript library designed to simplify manipulation of HTML and CSS


Kickstarter was kickstarted in 2009. Along with Indiegogo and PledgeMusic, KickStarter is a crowdfunding website, which hosts projects people need money to fund, and allows backers to donate in fixed amounts in return for something in relation to the project (ie. the finished product, tickets, memorabilia etc). For instance: if one was funding a film, backers might receive a DVD of the film, or premiere tickets, or a poster, depending on how much they donated.

Creators have up to 60 days to raise the money they need (but at present can only be from Ameirca, UK, Canada, the Netherlands, New Zealand or Australia; backers can be from anywhere). Projects fall into 13 categories, including: Art, Film and Video, Fashion and Technology. Significant projects have included the Coolest Cooler which is the most funded project ever ($13 million); Crystal Bacon, a strap-on beard, a Doctor Who rap album, and a potato salad which rasied over $55,000.

Celebrities such as Amanada Palmer and Zach Braff have come under fire for using the platform, despite being not exactly poor.

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Kika message app for mobiles, popular with young people, which has a built-in browser

Kim Kardashian: Hollywoodgame for mobile OS featuring the reality star, which inexplicably took the world by storm in the spring of 2014

KnowYourMemeyour source for absolutely everything meme-related

Lil’ Bub

Lil’ Bub is the most famous kitty on the internet after Grumpy Cat. Grumpy Cat might be quite grumpy that Lil’ Bub gets her own entry, while she was relegated to a footnote, but such is the power of the gif. Lil’ Bub was born with several genetic mutations; she has no teeth, her tongue permanently hangs out, and she is also polydactyl. Most importantly, however, she is cute as a button.

Lil’ Bub’s career has seen her write a book, star in a movie, and host her own show. She’s also met Robert De Niro – and, in a moment which crashed servers around the world – Grumpy Cat.

One of the most important meetings in the history of catkind.

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lamebookingwriting the most yawn-inducing, boring crap on Facebook

LimeWirewas a free P2P file sharing site, mostly used for downloading music. It is currently subject to a court-ordered injunction relating to copyright infringement

LinkedIna business-orientated social network, so no pics of drunk mates

lmao – “laughing my arse off” ie. you find something funny

LMGTFYa brilliant site called “Let me Google that for you”. When people ask you questions which they should just Google themselves ffs, send them this link

Lockerz – was an e-commerce startup which allowed users to browse content, and in doing so, earn points which resulted in discounts

lol – acronym meaning “laugh out loud”, or, if you’re David Cameron, “lots of love”

lolz – variation on the above

LulzSec – a hacker group which claimed to have downed the CIA website. LulzSec mostly did not hack for profit or political purposes, rather just for “the lulz”; to cause mayhem, essentially, and expose big corporations’ poor security

Lycos – search engine and service provider encompassing hosting, email, site building, blogging. It has a cute black labrador as its brand ambassador


The web, much to everybody’s surprise – and especially to the surprise of traditional newspapers and media outlets – has become a home for high quality long-form jounalism. There are many beautifully designed online-only publications out there, combining the best writing with stunning photography.

One of the most interesting is Medium. Created by the guys behind Blogger, Medium is a wonderfully handsome platform for writers (any writer) to write long pieces on any subject. It also has a social element, allowing writers to open their work up to others during the editing process. Matter is a magazine hosted by Medium.

Screenshot of Medium’s homepage. Photograph: Medium

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Matter – a magazine collection hosted by Medium

MegaUpload – was a company founded by Kim Dotcom. It was shut down by the US DoJ due to its file-sharing and hosting activities, particularly Megavideo. Dotcom has since established a successor called Mega

meme – image, video, text – mostly humorous – that is spread, copied, added to, and makes its merry way around the internetz

MemeGeneratora web and mobile app allowing users to create memes

Menshnill-fated social network set up by…ex-Tory MP Louise Mensch. She’d probably prefer you never to menshn it

Miaownew randomised message app for mobile, including chatrooms and one-one-one chat, mostly flooded with porn

the Million Dollar Homepage – some jammy kid created a page selling advertising space and became a millionaire back in 2005

MSN messengerRIP. A fondly remembered web-based IM application for kids slinging their bags down at 5pm and firing up the dial-up to chat to friends they’d literally spent the whole day with and parted from less than an hour ago

MySpace – It’s still going. The social network which peaked between 2005-2008 is now part-owned by Justin Timberlake. It was where the selfie first birthed (complete with outstretched arm, pout, side-fringe)

Nicolas Cage

There’s something about Nicolas Cage that just makes him perfect meme material. Perhaps it’s his over-the-top acting style, or his woebegone facial expression, or his low, confused mumble, or the fact he’s lovably weird – nobody really knows. But Nicolas Cage was basically made for the internet. He’s even aware of it himself. In a 2013 interview with the Guardian, he said:

The internet has developed this thing about me – and I’m not even a computer guy, you know? I don’t know why it is happening. I’m trying not to… lemme say this: I’m now of the mindset that, when in Rome, if you can’t beat ’em, join ’em.

One of the greatest Nic Cage things on the internet is Best Scenes from the Wicker Man, a montage of brilliantly over-acted clips from the 2006 remake. Then there’s Nic Cage as everyone, and his turn at Your Argument is Invalid. Oh, and the time a woman emailed a covering letter for a job and instead of attaching her CV, accidentally attached this photo of Nicolas Cage instead.

Nicolas Cage as Miley Cyrus in her infamous video for Wrecking Ball.

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nailed itoriginally a term for achiveing something difficult, but used sarcastically on the internet when users fail brilliantly short at attempts on Pinterest crafts and projects

Napster – originally, a P2P filing sharing site to download music, popular in the early 00s and founded by Sean Parker. Has since become a legit streaming service

Neknominate – viral sensation which encompassed people being filmed chugging alcohol and then nominating other people to also act like an idiot on camera, spread rapidly on Facebook

Netflix – an on-demand TV and movie streaming service which has taken the world by storm, especially with its original programming, which includes House of Cards and Orange is the New Black

ngl – internet slang for “not gonna lie”

no makeup selfie – was already a trend on the internet before it became a means of raising money for Cancer Research. Before its charitable incarnation, it was often unintentionally amusing when #nomakeupselfies were clearly adorned with lashings of mascara

NSFW – “not safe for work”, basically letting you know: do not fire this up where your boss can see it


Links are long. Links used to be so long that they’d resemble a game of Nokia snake two seconds before you died. But no longer! URL shorteners saved us from slugs that went on for miles, and clipboards weighed down with forward-slashes and keywords. Ow.ly (part of HootSuite), Bitly, t.co, Goo.gl and the rest have freed us from the shackles of bulging address bars, and allowed us space to breathe in our tweets – a feeling akin to loosening one’s belt buckle after a massive Sunday roast. O thank you Ow.ly, you are wise indeed.

Ow.ly’s logo. Photograph: HootSuite/Ow.ly

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OTP acronym meaning “one true pairing” in fanfic communities, for example: Ron and Hermione

OOO – meaning an out of office email reply

OP – “original poster” – the first post in a discussion thread, or person who posted it

open source – open source software, which promotes universal access by allowing free license to a product’s design or blueprint

overly attached girlfriend – a meme consisting of an image of a girl taken on webcam, overlayed with text nodding towards a clingy or obsessed person. The original girl in the photo, Lana, has since become an internet celebrity


If you’re anything like me, your hard drive is overrun with random pictures you’ve downloaded or screen-grabbed from the internet: stunning photography, humorous memes, a stock image of those boots you want to buy but will probably wait till the sale – Pinterest was established to capitalise on people like us (especially the boots part).

Pinterest is a website which allows users to “pin” images to boards, like a traditional mood board used in fashion or design practice. Each image is known as a “pin” and each board is themed. Adding “pins” is easy and especially with various Pinterest extensions available for browsers. Fashion, interior design and are all popular on the site. Many brands also run official Pinterest pages.

Established in 2010, Pinterest is interesting in that it is incredibly popular with women in the US. One 2012 study even put its Amreican traffic from female users as high as 83%. The main problem with Pinterest is it serves as a visual reminder of all the most beautiful things in the world you will probably never be able to achieve/afford/get remotely close to. *Pins topless picture of Zac Efron*

Homepage of Pinterest. Photograph: Pinterest

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P2P stands for for peer-to-peer. Computer network in which each device acts as a server, removing the need for a central server, thus facilitating file-sharing

PGP “Pretty Good Privacy”. A data encryption and decryption program

The Pirate Bay – most popular website which facilitates file sharing by P2P networks. ISPs in many countries have blocked the site, but proxy versions remain

Photobucket – an image hosting and sharing website, which hosts over 10 billion images

planking – viral trend which involved people lying face down with their legs together and arms by their sides in the most ludicrous situation they could find

PutLockerwas a file-hosting site and became popular after Megaupload’s demise, has since become Filedrive

pwnd variation of “owned” ie. when you beat, defeat or humiliate a sworn enemy


QTWAIN is an acronym for “questions to which the answer is no”. Basically any question the Daily Mail or The Sun poses is a good place to start with this one. ARE IMMIGRANTS MURDERING US ALL? #QTWTAIN. IS KATE MIDDLETON EXPECTING QUADRPULETS? #QTWTAIN. Questions to which the answer is no are usually so stupid and obviously deserving of a no answer, or none at all, that they are verging on the rhetorical. The Independent even had a blog dedicated to QTWTAIN.

QTWAIN is also known as “Betteridge’s law” after tech journalist Ian Betteridge. Although the concept has been around a long time.

#QTWTAIN RT @JohnRentoul: Can anyone translate this @rupertmurdoch tweet? https://t.co/XJdyb1jmZn

— Beckie Smith (@Beckie_Smith_) September 10, 2014

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Quora a question and answer website, users collaborate to edit answers

Quickmeme.comone of the most popular meme maker and sharing sites


Reddit bills itself as “the front page of the internet”, which is somewhat awkward, given that Digg calls itself “the homepage of the internet” (fight fight fight!). reddit is essentially an old style bulletin board to which users post interesting links, texts or pictures. Content is then either “upvoted” or “downvoted” by registered users, which determines its place on a page.

Users do not have to provide an email to register, or register via a social network. Redditors are a very tight community and adhere to a certain set of values known as “reddiquette”. Don’t obviously post things in the wrong subreddits or self-promote, and don’t troll as you will be called out.

Content is organised into subreddits, which are essentially subject matter or genre channels. Some of the most famous include ELI5 (Explain Like I’m 5), AMA (Ask Me Anything), Internet is Beautiful and TIL (Today I Learned). But there are also very niche subreddits, and very dark ones. Mostly though, reddit is a great source to find interesting, humorous or intriguing content. Making it onto the front page of reddit is the internet equiavlent of winning Olympic gold.

The company was started in 2005 and its biggest shareholder is Advance Publications, parent of Conde Nast. Which brings us to the brilliant realisation that reddit and Vogue are owned by the same people.

alan ama
The Guardian editor Alan Rusbridger took part in an AMA. Photograph: The Guardian

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revenge pornhorrible people think it’s a good idea to post naked pictures and videos of their exes, everyone else thinks they are heinous

retweet – when a Twitter user republishes someone else’s tweet to their own timeline (if doing this by quoting a tweet, users will add “RT” to text of tweet)


– trolling trend which saw content links redirect to the YouTube video of Rick Astley’s “Never Gonna Give You Up”

ROFL – “rolling on the floor laughing”

RSS – a web feed format which delivers continuously updated content. Popular choices include Bloglines, after the death of Google Reader


In case you’ve been living under a rock since the camera phone was invented, you are probably already aware of what a “selfie” is, especially as it was added to the Oxford English Dictionary in August 2014. The definition the OED give is thus:

A photograph that one has taken of oneself, typically one taken with a smartphone or webcam and shared via social media

That’s as good a definition as any, and yet some people still manage to get it wrong. Just to be clear: a selfie is not a just a photo someone posts with them in it. Nor is it a photo in which a selfie is being taken. That is literally just a picture of somebody holding a phone up to their face. Selfies have birthed many spin-offs: the shelfie (a picture of one’s bookcase), the belfie (a self-portrait of one’s bum), and the nomakeup selfie which earlier this year raised millions for charity.

They have also become incredibly popular with celebrities and politicians, who seem to think that their poll ratings will go up when they mug into a camera rather than, you know, put forward decent policies that mean we can pay our rent etc. Famous selfies have included astronauts in space, a woman crashing a football field and Ellen DeGeneres’ selfie at the Oscars, which became the most retweeted tweet of all time.

astronaut selfie
Aki Hoshide takes an average selfie. Photograph: Aki Hoshide

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Safari web browser created by Apple and installed on their devices

Salad Fingers – creepy animation series created in 2004

Second Life – online virtual world in which avatars interact with each other, fly about, have relationships, build things

sfw – “safe for work”, so nothing that will get you fired if it pops up in your browser

shipping creating a relationship between characters in a fanfic scenario

Silk Road an online market place, part of the dark internet. Users are able to browse anonymously without traffic monitoring

Snapchata mobile messaging app which sends videos, pictures and chats which self destruct after up to 10 seconds. Often employed to send naked selfies

Snopes – an urban legend and rumours site, which aims to accredit or debunk. Founded by Barbara and David Mikkelson, a Californian couple who met on the AFU newsgroup of Usenet

SpiderOakback up tool for web and mobile allowing users to upload, store, sync and share (as recommended by Edward Snowden)

Spotify – music streaming service, now available as web and mobile application

Strutting Leo a photoshop meme in which a photograph of a carefree Leonardo Dicaprio on the set of Inception is superimposed into various scenarios

Stumble Upon – a website which recommends content to its users based on thumbs up/thumbs down, as well as acting as an aggregation and bookmarking site

subtweetmentioning somebody on Twitter without @-mentioning them, a bit like talking behind someone’s back, but not always in a bitchy way

surface web the regular internet, anything a search engine can reach


There have always been trolls in the world – it’s just that the internet has built more bridges. Trolls are not one homogenous group, there are different types and level of troll. Some trolls, for instance, are trolling just by posting or commenting on something other than the subject under discussion, moving it off-topic. This can be intentional or not. Most of us think of trolls however, as people posting comments or other content to purposely upset, belittle, harass, annoy, bully or offend individuals.

Again, there are extremes of trolling and mid-level trolling. Mid-level trolling might be a sarcastic remark which adds nothing to a thread or debate; extreme trolling is seen in likes of horrific misogynistic abuse some female journalists and public figures face on Twitter (among others). In an example of analogue laws catching up with digital, this has recently resulted in criminal cases.

There have been academic studies published about trolls, but it doesn’t take a 50-page peer review journal to tell you that these are basically just pricks with nothing better to do.

The ‘Trollface’, often posted in response to a troll. Photograph: KnowYourMeme.com

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TBT – short for Throwback Thursday. Hashtag employed on Instagram and Twitter as an excuse to post cute pics of yourself as a child or show off about earlier achievements/holidays/ker-azy nights out

Tim Berners-Lee – oh, only the BLOODY INVENTOR OF THE WORLD WIDE WEB

Tinder – mobile dating app, connected to Facebook, which allows users to swipe left or right depending on whether they want to be matched with somebody

Tom – everybody’s original friend on MySpace (full name: Tom Anderson. He also co-founded the company. Good job, Tom)

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Tom, our first friend, before anyone had even heard of Mark Zuckerberg. Photograph: MySpace.com

Tor – Tor is software to ensure online anonymity as part of the fightback from overreaching surveillance and analysis. Its logo is an onion, so there’s that

torrent – a torrent is a file which basically contains metadata about other files and folders, allowing them to be distributed and found more easily

Tout – social network which allows users to create 15-second videos, similar to Vine. Basketball player Shaquille O’Neal used a tout to announce his retirement

Tumblr – very popular micro-blogging platform and social network, which allowers users to post gifs, text, videos , which can then be “reblogged”

Tweetdeck – a social media management dashboard. Some people prefer Tweetdeck’s UI to Hootsuite

Twitch – website which streams live gameplay and is hugely popular, acquired by Amazon for $1 billion in September 2014

Twitter – 140 characters to say something witty/informative/intelligent, becoming an ever more impressive source for content and news

Urban Dictionary

It’s the one-stop place to understand slang; it’s the Rosetta Stone of the web. If someone tweets or Gchats you a term you don’t understand, you can just fire up Urban to find the definition. Because, ngl, sometimes slang – and internet slang especially – can be confusing.

Urban Dictionary works a bit like Wikipedia, in that its users create the content. Each definition submitted for a word or phrase is either given the thumbs up or thumbs down by readers; the higher the number of thumbs up it receives, the more prominent it will appear on the site. You have to sign in with Facebook or Google+.

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A definition on Urban Dictionary. Photograph: UrbanDictionary.com

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UIshort for ‘user interface’. It is the set of commands and menus through which the user will communicate with and navigate a program or website. Ideally, you want this to be clean, good-looking and easy to use

Upworthy – aggregating content site dealing heavily in clickbait

Usenet – one of the oldest computer network communications systems, Usenet is still going strong

Utorrent – free torrent client owned by BitTorrent, facilitating P2P file sharing

UX – stands for “user experience”. How a person responds to, say, a particular program, app or web browser


Cynics will point to Vine and say it is proof of our ever decreasing attention span, fans (*raises hand in the air enthusiastically*) will tell you Vine is a great little app to display creativity, inform and document. Vine was established in June 2012 and snapped up by Twitter just four months later.

Users can shoot and edit video up to six seconds long using the app, which was the most downloaded free app for iOS in April 2013. Its stop-start format lends itself to brilliantly creative compositions and stop-motion art pieces. Humour videos do well, as do animals and news. Journalists are also increasingly using Vine as a tool.

The below Vine has been looped (watched once) over 32 million times.

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vaguebooking – an irritatingly vague Facebook status used to solicit attention

Vevo – music video hosting service, the online MTV, if you will. Owned by Universal, Sony and Google

Vimeo – video-sharing site allowing users to upload, share, view and embed videos

viral – when something is shared and passed around the internet at a rapid rate

VK.coma Russian social networking site popular in Eastern Europe


According to Alexa, Wikipedia is the sixth most visited website in the world with 500 million active users a month. There are 32,695,787 articles on Wikipedia (and probably more by the time you finish this piece) and 287 supported languages.

The free online encyclopedia is hosted by the nonprofit Wikimedia Foundation, founded by Jimmy Wales in 2003, (and currently led by Lila Tretikov). It’s hard to remember a world in which Wikipedia didn’t exist; schoolkids had to actually do their homework, folk couldn’t cheat at pub quizzes, and politicians’ deaths weren’t documented seconds after they’d breathed their last.

Wikipedia is a truly fascinating resource, and a perfect example of the internet as educator and collaborator. However, the fact that it is open to anybody to contribute (Wikipedians) can sometimes affect articles’ quality or accuracy, and the site has been host to many pranks and hoaxes. However, the community of editors works fast to ammend these. Wikimedia Foundation also has a number of spin-offs, including: WikiData, Wikiquote and Wikisouce. And what does “wiki” mean, exactly? It’s the Hawaiian word for “fast”.

jimmy wales
Jimmy Wales, founder of Wikipedia. Suki Dhanda Photograph: Suki Dhanda

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Wayback Machinea digital archive of the world wide web. Well worth a look

WAYN social travel network “Where Are You Now?” which aims to connect people worldwide

wbuslang for “what about you?”

Weibo – hugely popular micro-blogging site in China. However has since been overtaken by traffic from Qzone, a social network

WhatsApp – very popular mobile instant messaging app which uses data or WiFi connection. Acquired by Facebook for $19 billion in February 2014

Wikileaks – nonprofit online organisation responsible for news leaks and classified information. Its founder Julian Assange is currently holed up in the Ecuadorian embassy in London

Whisperfree iOS and Android app which allows users to post messages anonymously, consisting of text over a picture. The least handsome app in existence

Wordpresshugely popular free, opensource blogging tool and CMS


Triple-dot-x is a sponsored top level domain name suggested for websites which offer pornographic content; the domain is not mandatory. First touted in 2004, the domain was first available in April 2011 after being approved by the Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers (Icann) which administers internet addresses. This, despite the US government rejecting its proposal in 2007.

Supporters of the domain say it helps users to avoid fraudulent, virus-ridden sites and is helpful to parents who could block the domain. This is what worries internet freedom campaigners who think the domain could be a gateway to censorship on the web, setting a precedent. Icann has approved many more suffixes of late, including .london, expanding available gTLDs. You could have anything you wanted – at a fee of $185,000 (and that is just a proposal fee).

So, this was the stock image available for ‘xxx domain’. Photograph: James Blinn / Alamy/Alamy

Y U No Guy

Y U No? is a meme and a great means of expressing a particular issue which frustrates, annoys, upsets, or angers one in a simple and concise (and often hilarious) way. The original Y U NO? meme template was first introduced by LOLTumblrWallpapers and was reblogged almost 10,000 times. After the template was uploaded to MemeGenerator, it became ubiquitous on the internet.

The meme takes the form of a stick-figure man, inspired by a Japanese sci-fi manga, with his arms oustretched and an outraged look on his face. It works especially well with surreal, humorous frustrations, or frustration that stems from genuinely illogical things, or frustration widely shared. For example: “USB plug – y u no fit in right way first time?”Photoshop y u no sell photos?”

y u no
Photograph: MemeGenerator

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Yahoo!multinational focusing on internet services and products

Yahoo! Answers Q&A site run by Yahoo!, a source of great hilarity due to the randomness/idiocy of questions frequently asked

yfrog – web and mobile image-hosting service run by ImageShack, used often to share links to photos and videos on Twitter

Yo! mobile messaging app which consists of people sending the word “yo!” to one another. Nothing else to see here, but somehow it’s a nice way to tell someone you’re thinking of them (without the effort of actually having to converse)

yolo – acronym for “you only live once”. Popularised by rapper Drake. Often used sarcastically when one does something entirely mundane or stupid


the website responsible for Justin Bieber


Zynga develops social games that are playable via app or on social networking sites, rather than traditional games consoles. What I’m telling you here is that Zynga is responsible for FarmVille. And FarmVille 2. It is also the reason why everyone went through that period of being sent notifications to play Texas Hold’em.

CityVille is Zynga’s most successful game to date, at one point with up to 10 million DAUs. The company has taken advantage of a broadening gaming market, especially the increasing interest from people who would not traditionally be thought of as gamers, as a result of mobile and social platforms.

Zynga’s active users have dropped off sharply in 2014, losing 63% of its audience. The company hopes that its acquisition of British gaming firm NaturalMotion will help to reverse its fortunes. Its game are also available to play in-browser.

A screengrab of FarmVille. Zynga Photograph: Zynga

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Zoopla – the property website and mobile app on which we lose ten hours per week searching for houses we’ll never be able to afford. Rightmove, you too. *weeps*

Anything you’d like to see added? Drop your comments, as ever, in the thread below


Hannah Jane Parkinson

The GuardianTramp