Isn't that "our" word? September 18, 2018 6:38 PM   Subscribe

I just saw that Merriam-Webster is adding "Tl;dr" to the dictionary, with first use cited in 2002. Am I crazy, or did that particular abbreviation originate here, at MetaFilter?
posted by tizzie to MetaFilter-Related at 6:38 PM (57 comments total) 2 users marked this as a favorite

It did not originate with us! However, it came about in an internet linguistic context of which MeFi was very much part, and ended up getting discussed and adopted in (usually self-aware, often somewhat ironic) use here as well for a number of years. We did throw it on a t-shirt at one point, even.

But, yeah, my basic recollection is it came up through the forum scene in general, maybe with the version of Digg that existed at that point as a major incubator? And then it sorta spread wide the way internet slang does, with MeFi one strand in that big tapestry.
posted by cortex (staff) at 6:41 PM on September 18, 2018 [12 favorites]


Huh, am I missing something, or is there not a source for that "first known use" note? I think I was first introduced to it via Fark, probably.
posted by curious nu at 6:52 PM on September 18, 2018 [1 favorite]


I remembered the t-shirt (from Mefi 10, right?) and I'd really only seen it used here. Guess we can't take credit for first known use.
posted by tizzie at 6:53 PM on September 18, 2018


I’d like to think tl;dr’s usage here has been mostly in a self-deprecating or ironic way rather than the petty reactive way it often got used in Digg et al.
posted by Burhanistan at 8:08 PM on September 18, 2018


We had an earlier version of this discussion in 2012 where people tried to track it back to the 2002-4 era in various sources; nothing definitive tho.
posted by LobsterMitten (staff) at 8:30 PM on September 18, 2018 [3 favorites]


Just gotta say: I have the TL;DR metafilter shirt.
posted by zengargoyle at 9:34 PM on September 18, 2018 [3 favorites]


My daughter's Grade 4 teacher put a tl;dr at the end of her first weekly newsletter home. Whether that means it has escaped the internet, or the teacher is a MeFite (or a Farkette, ugh), or both, remains to be determined.
posted by Rumple at 11:55 PM on September 18, 2018 [1 favorite]


From the OED entry:

2002 Re: My Thoughts on Metroid Prime (Long) in rec.games.video.nintendo (Usenet newsgroup) 21 Dec. tl;dr.
2004 Schandaal! in nl.comp.games.quake (Usenet newsgroup) 1 July tl;dr version—Magazines accused of fixing review scores in exchange for being able to review pre-release code.
2008 @nfreader 18 Feb. in twitter.com (O.E.D. Archive) The whole arbitrary scrolling thing really adds a nice level of uncertainty to the whole computing experience. tldr: I need a new mouse.
2015 A. Gallardo Zombified vii. 79 The tl;dr version of the e-mail was that he was interested in the attacks.

posted by vacapinta at 2:03 AM on September 19, 2018 [3 favorites]


1928: the full OED was republished in ten bound volumes tl;dr
posted by chavenet at 2:40 AM on September 19, 2018 [11 favorites]


I also have the tl;dr shirt. I still wear it!
posted by sockermom at 3:31 AM on September 19, 2018 [1 favorite]


Pronounced ˈtɪldəɚ.
posted by Grangousier at 4:17 AM on September 19, 2018 [2 favorites]


(According to a random IPA translator I found on t' webs. I don't know these things.)
posted by Grangousier at 4:18 AM on September 19, 2018


Teal deer.
posted by Mr. Bad Example at 4:38 AM on September 19, 2018 [5 favorites]


Whether that means it has escaped the internet, or the teacher is a MeFite

It's long been everywhere; I've definitely seen it in many non-internet contexts, and even heard one presenter say it during a conference presentation sum-up. I blame reddit.

Shows up in Urban Dictionary by 2003. Here's an entry March, 2004.
posted by Miko at 4:42 AM on September 19, 2018 [1 favorite]


If you use email in the corporate world (US) you may know tl;dr's weird cousin, BLUF: (Bottom Line Up Front)

In the early 90's at a trade mag we had to write a one sentence summary of the article and they ran it at the top in a highlight box as an "Executive Summary"; in retrospect I suppose that was a sort of proto-tl;dr
posted by mikepop at 5:35 AM on September 19, 2018 [2 favorites]


And see, I always thought tl;dr originated from Something Awful* in the early 2000s. For a while it felt like a better indication of goonery than stairs in a house.

(* which I used to be a member of long ago for years and years, and then forgot my password and their account retrieval process was impossible and then they weren't taking new accounts either so I gave up trying to go back; wtf, Lowtax?!)
posted by tocts at 7:16 AM on September 19, 2018 [1 favorite]


Can someone sum this thread up for me?
posted by ODiV at 7:32 AM on September 19, 2018 [5 favorites]


We did throw it on a t-shirt at one point, even.

And the reason why we are not producing more of these t-shirts is ...? :)
posted by Melismata at 8:05 AM on September 19, 2018 [3 favorites]


Can someone sum this thread up for me?

Annalist acronym angst, t-shirts, and
posted by clavdivs at 8:35 AM on September 19, 2018 [2 favorites]


god, if tl;dr isn't from usenet I'll eat alt.kibo.die.die.die
posted by GuyZero at 8:48 AM on September 19, 2018 [8 favorites]


luazinha has the tl;dr t-shirt because she's an almost lurker/occasional user of the site, and she liked having the shirt to gently mock how much time I spend here.
posted by umbú at 8:55 AM on September 19, 2018 [2 favorites]


It appeared in Fandom_Wank on LiveJournal before that and it was brought there by fangirls that came in from Usnet and fan website bulletin boards like Cfan.
posted by 80 Cats in a Dog Suit at 9:09 AM on September 19, 2018 [3 favorites]


BLUF: (Bottom Line Up Front)

This sounds like everything after this acronym will be a lie, appropriately for the corporate context I guess.
posted by Pyrogenesis at 10:08 AM on September 19, 2018


Was "too long; didn't read" a relatively common saying before the abbreviation?

I mean I'm trying to figure out whether the earliest postings of it somewhere offered the abbreviation as substitute for something common, posted the abbreviation then offered explanation of what it meant, or if it was posted and expected people would figure it out from context, which seems like something of a stretch.
posted by gusottertrout at 10:59 AM on September 19, 2018 [2 favorites]


if it was posted and expected people would figure it out from context, which seems like something of a stretch.

usenet was the place where people regularly posted stuff like IANAL, YMMV and YHBT. HTH. HAND. without any further explanation.

HTH. TTFN.

(that is to say, it is not a stretch that someone would just say "tl;dr" without any explanation)
posted by GuyZero at 11:06 AM on September 19, 2018 [2 favorites]


RTFA is ours though, right?
posted by Burhanistan at 11:11 AM on September 19, 2018


(Ah, RTFA may also be Usenet but MeFi is basically an outgrowth of Usenet.)
posted by Burhanistan at 11:13 AM on September 19, 2018 [3 favorites]


RTFA? RTFM probably pre-dates even usenet.

DTMF is probably the metafilteriest acronym although I usually end up reading it as "dual-tone multi-frequency".
posted by GuyZero at 11:20 AM on September 19, 2018 [7 favorites]


Can someone sum this thread up for me?

42
posted by Celsius1414 at 11:42 AM on September 19, 2018 [5 favorites]


Was "too long; didn't read" a relatively common saying before the abbreviation?

For some reason I got it in my head that it was originally a computer term like, I dunno, a response if a client made a request and got a server reply that was too big for it to handle. Even now I have a hard time accepting the idea it's purely a human response that one human says to another because it still strikes me as a weirdly inhuman string of characters.
posted by Mr.Encyclopedia at 11:43 AM on September 19, 2018 [1 favorite]


In the early 90's at a trade mag we had to write a one sentence summary of the article and they ran it at the top in a highlight box as an "Executive Summary"; in retrospect I suppose that was a sort of proto-tl;dr

It's really funny to run across this today, as I was just referencing this the other day. A younger colleague asked me, "Do you think it's unprofessional to put a tl;dr in a work email to some principals?" I told them, "Just call it a summary line, people have been doing that for decades."
posted by Errant at 11:47 AM on September 19, 2018 [6 favorites]


I thought DTMFA was a Dan Savagery?

bean (plate of ~s, ~plating) (n) hasn't really escaped Metafilter, which is a shame.
posted by Wrinkled Stumpskin at 12:58 PM on September 19, 2018 [3 favorites]


I feel (without cited references) that tl;dr has gone through a few shifts:

- that it was initially a snarky response to an excessively long post. You'd reply with just tl;dr
- that it became a preamble before a response to a post you couldn't bother reading
- it became a way for people to refer to summaries of their own posts knowing they were too long and wouldn't be read
- it became synonymous with "summary"

it still strikes me as a weirdly inhuman string of characters.

again, clearly you didn't spend a lot of time on usenet where inhuman communication was more the norm than the exception.
posted by GuyZero at 1:01 PM on September 19, 2018 [4 favorites]


It's pronounced “Swinton”, of course.
posted by scruss at 1:19 PM on September 19, 2018 [3 favorites]


I think that

what

is our creation. In recent political times, one would have to print "what" so many times that it would anyway become

tl;dr what
posted by Namlit at 1:55 PM on September 19, 2018


I think that

what

is our creation.


wat
posted by GuyZero at 1:58 PM on September 19, 2018 [1 favorite]


RTFA? RTFM probably pre-dates even usenet.


Certainly both were on Slashdot in the mid/late 90's
posted by deadwax at 3:25 PM on September 19, 2018


I bought the tl;dr shirt but have since outgrown it :-(
posted by The Toad at 3:49 PM on September 19, 2018


I bought the tl;dr shirt but have since outgrown it :-(

ts; df?
posted by So You're Saying These Are Pants? at 4:42 PM on September 19, 2018 [5 favorites]


I've seen tl;dr used on LiveJournal a lot. Back when I was still on LiveJournal, of course.
There doesn't seem to be a teal deer emoji. Why on earth not?
posted by Too-Ticky at 4:20 AM on September 20, 2018 [1 favorite]


I thought DTMFA was a Dan Savagery?

Yeah, that's definitely from Dan Savage (unless he borrowed it from someone else). Not a MeFi original.
posted by lazuli at 5:59 AM on September 20, 2018 [2 favorites]


sounds like only the beans are our own
posted by brilliantine at 6:22 AM on September 20, 2018 [1 favorite]


I'm fine with just beans. Too much on my plate anyway...
posted by Namlit at 6:43 AM on September 20, 2018 [1 favorite]


When there was only one plate of beans in the sand was when I was carrying you.
posted by Burhanistan at 7:12 AM on September 20, 2018 [4 favorites]


Metafilter: if beans isn't in there somewhere, the phrase probably did not originate on metafilter
posted by 23skidoo at 7:18 AM on September 20, 2018


If you're not paying for it, you're not the customer... you're the beans being overthought.
posted by Too-Ticky at 10:44 AM on September 20, 2018 [2 favorites]


To;de

too old, don't eat
posted by Namlit at 2:13 PM on September 20, 2018 [1 favorite]


We could always resurrect "Hurf durf butter eater"

....ehhhhh no.
posted by Mr.Encyclopedia at 5:52 PM on September 20, 2018


I first learned about it through Fandom Wank around 2003ish...
posted by elsietheeel at 6:02 PM on September 20, 2018 [2 favorites]


Darn it, that would have flowed better as “When there was only one plate of beans in the sand was when I was overthinking it for you.” L’espirit de l’escalier des haricots.
posted by Burhanistan at 6:17 PM on September 20, 2018


MetaFilter: Fine with just beans.
posted by Bella Donna at 7:16 PM on September 20, 2018


usenet usenet usenet - I'm sure I first saw it on alt.tv.x-files
posted by ersatzkat at 8:04 AM on September 21, 2018


Hurf Durf Butter Beans
posted by Rumple at 11:06 AM on September 21, 2018 [1 favorite]


deadwax: "
Certainly both were on Slashdot in the mid/late 90's
"

Usenet dates from the era when email addresses were bang paths.
posted by Mitheral at 7:48 PM on September 21, 2018 [2 favorites]


Yes I know. I was responding to the suggestion that the terms originated here, not suggesting Slashdot predated Usenet.
posted by deadwax at 4:20 AM on September 24, 2018


tl;dr was a question on the new Cash Cab recently. The contestants got it wrong.
posted by Kirth Gerson at 2:30 PM on September 24, 2018


I definitely remember seeing Tl;Dr way back in the day on the SomethingAwful forums around 2001ish but because it was just a thing people did, not that the forums themselves cultivated it. I'm curious how they arrived at the 2002 date because it seems like it was around before then.
posted by GoblinHoney at 3:02 PM on September 27, 2018


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