Leetspeek has jumped the shark

OK, it's Friday, so it's time for something a bit lighter than usual in this space. Microsoft recently posted a page to their Security at Home site with the reassuring title A parent's primer to computer slang. On this page, the kind people from Microsoft explain the ins and outs of leetspeek, that wonderful typographical phonetic language which, we are assured, is the basis of information-age slang. They explain such terms as "pwned" and "w4r3z" and offer such helpful definitions as

  • "w00t" or the smiley character \o/: A common interjection, analogous to "woohoo!"

While my own chat-room days are somewhat in the past, I think I'm safe in making one assumption here: leetspeek, as defined here by Microsoft, has jumped the shark. By now, when someone exclaims online "that rox0rs!" you can assume that they are either hopelessly clueless, a Federal agent trying to pose as a hacker, or being deliberately tongue-in-cheek. They're not, no matter what one might be led to believe by this guide to the computer underground, a dangerous hacker.

Of course, this is far from the first time that parents have been given helpful tips on warning signs to watch out for of dangerous behavior in their offspring. Every generation of kids invents their own slang, and every generation of parents tries to decipher it...and by the time the parents figure it out, the kids have already moved on.

So. Kids: have a good laugh at Microsoft's deciperhing of your lingo. Parents; relax and talk to your kids about responsible computer usage. And next week Microsoft and I will both get back to software development.

About the Author

Mike Gunderloy has been developing software for a quarter-century now, and writing about it for nearly as long. He walked away from a .NET development career in 2006 and has been a happy Rails user ever since. Mike blogs at A Fresh Cup.

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