back to article HTML is a sexually transmitted disease, say many Americans

The Personal Computer Memory Card International Association's eponymous 1990 PCMCIA card standard used to jokingly be decoded as People Can't Memorise Computer Industry Acronyms. Nearly a quarter of a century later that jape has been proven anew, after an online coupons outfit called Vouchercloud let The Los Angeles Times …


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  1. mIRCat

    Thus conclusively proving...

    There should be a test to get on the internet.

    Honestly officer, I know my license is in one of these pockets.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Thus conclusively proving...

      Presumably much like being American is usually a sexually transmitted disease...

  2. ammabamma

    Bozhe moi...

    > HTML is a sexually-transmitted disease

    Have you ever had the misfortune of having to maintain an unholy amalgamation of old-world Frontpage and Dreamweaver cruft that has been organically "grown" (like a tumour) through the inexperienced ministrations of 7 years of college interns? I would say this assessment is spot-on.

    > Gigabyte being identified as “an insect commonly found in South America” by 27 per cent of respondents

    I guess that makes a gibibyte the larval form...

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Bozhe moi...

      terabyte would be one that's in the process of attacking you

      petabyte would be one that's domesticated and trained as a guard insect

      kilobyte would be a fat one.

      yottabyte would be an unreasonably rich one

      1. wowfood

        Re: Bozhe moi...

        I had assumed a PETAbyte would be one of the few insects left, whom PETA have made their poster child for some reason or another.

        1. Tom 13

          Re: PETAbyte

          I thought those were the "people" your MPs are so anxious to keep off the internet.

      2. Joe User

        Re: Bozhe moi...

        I thought that yottabytes only attacked little green people....

    2. DropBear

      Re: Bozhe moi...

      Psh, that's nothing. You should see my brand new 3-Trilobyte hard disk!

      1. Euripides Pants

        Re: my brand new 3-Trilobyte hard disk!

        Liar! Everyone knows that trilobyte size disks have been obsolete for 250 million years

  3. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Sounds like a multiple-choice survey written by someone with a sense of humour.

    1. Terry 6 Silver badge

      Sense of humour

      Also possibly the respondants.

  4. Flocke Kroes Silver badge

    Any incentive to get the right answers?

    Without it, some people will say the daftest thing that pops into their head at the time.

    1. Marvin the Martian

      Re: Any incentive to get the right answers?

      Guilty as charged. Especially if it's not multiple choice. And even with an incentive, YMMV a lot with mood.

    2. mickey mouse the fith

      Re: Any incentive to get the right answers?

      Heh, I always lie on surveys, be they people stopping me in the street or cold calling annoyances. It gives me a smug sense of satisfaction knowing that in a small way, i have ruined their dataset and thus rendered all their hard work moot. This makes me happy.

  5. Gray Ham

    > HTML is a sexually-transmitted disease

    I know. I always practice safe editing and protect myself with WCAG.

    1. tony2heads
      Thumb Up

      Help me doctor

      I have a bad case of CSS and my selectors are unable to ascend

    2. Jedit Silver badge

      "I always practice safe editing and protect myself with WCAG"

      When visiting a website I'm not familiar with I always make sure my Cat6 network cable is properly sheathed.

      It's also ten metres long and I keep it strapped down so people won't trip over it. I can show you pictures, if you don't believe me.

  6. T. F. M. Reader

    The vultures are keen to know...

    Your curiosity is laudable, but you could just read the LA Times article you based your report on and link to. It clearly states the survey was made of multiple choice questions with three definitions to choose from for each term.

  7. The Vociferous Time Waster


    People don't need to study preposterous acronyms.

    1. Phil O'Sophical Silver badge

      Re: OSI

      Welcome to Europe, the only place where you compromise between English and French by inventing something that is equally wrong in both languages.

    2. TRT Silver badge

      Re: OSI


      That is all.

    3. Eddy Ito

      Re: OSI

      To be fair, acronyms are largely ignored gobbledegook by the masses and if you aren't in the particular industry they are used it really doesn't matter. Lots of folks drive cars but how many know what RON or MON mean. How many know what the API, ACEA, JASO or ILSAC stands for on the oil label. You might find some who know what BOP means after the BP spill in the gulf but probably not many. Going on to plastics like PTFE or UHMW you might get a few to recognize that one of them is Teflon but I'd wager not many.

      As for TWAIN, it sounds like half to Shakespeare.

      1. This post has been deleted by its author

  8. king of foo


    1. Answering a survey...

    2. On a discount coupon site...

    3. In the US of A...

    High praise indeed. They should put those skills on their next CV/résumé...

    Why am I suddenly thinking about a trailer park and Judge Judy? No, wait, it's much worse, can you hear it?

    Je-rry! Je-rry! Je-rry!

    < EEK! >

    Acronyms/Initialisms... Hmmm... I bet they are 100‰ au fait with whatever the US equivalents of JSA + ASBO are...

    1. cortland


      ASBO isn't an offense over here, it's politics; just look at two recent examples, Chris Christie and Carl Paladino. A Web search using "candidate threatens" pulls up scores of tempting clicks.

      "Bully Pulpit" can have more than one meaning.

  9. Michael Nidd


    I know it's not strictly polite to pre-filter survey results, but what would they look like if you threw out every set that had a wrong answer for "software?" Any of the 11% who thought it was comfy clothing have a long way to go before it makes any difference whether they know what USB and motherboard mean.

    Alternatively, that 11% might also be the people who know a silly survey when they see one, and were really just going for the most entertaining answer each time. I wouldn't blame them, but their results should still be dropped.

    1. Captain DaFt

      Re: Pre-filter

      " that 11% might also be the people who know a silly survey when they see one, and were really just going for the most entertaining answer each time."

      Around here, That description describes the demographic called 'literate'.

      (Probably explains why there hasn't been a survey conducted around here since the nineties.)

  10. frank ly

    USB was thought to be shorthand for a European country

    United States Bailiwick - obviously.

    1. Colin Brett

      Re: USB was thought to be shorthand for a European country

      I was going to suggest "United States of Berlin". I believe it's been tried a couple of times in the past.


    2. Chairo

      Re: USB was thought to be shorthand for a European country

      United States of Belgium?

      United States of Britain?

      Hmm, not sooo unlikely.

      1. TRT Silver badge

        Re: USB was thought to be shorthand for a European country

        Things are looking up if Europe springs to mind.

        1. John Brown (no body) Silver badge

          Re: USB was thought to be shorthand for a European country

          Things are looking up if Europe springs to mind."

          That surprised me too. I was under the impression that many USAians thought Yourope was all one country :-)

          1. TRT Silver badge

            Re: USB was thought to be shorthand for a European country

            United States of Belgium.

    3. Tom 13

      Re: USB was thought to be shorthand for a European country

      No, no, it's that bank thingie!

  11. dan1980

    Or . . .

    I think the take-away the author is missing is:

    • Bored office workers browsing coupon sites while they should be productive are likely to select humorous answers for the 10-second hit of amusement and distraction it provides, before going on to post about it on Facebook an then click through a bunch of random links in a vain attempt to quiet the small but persistent voice inside reminding them of all their youthful dreams and asking where it all went wrong.

    Personally, I steal my moments of respite through beer and commenting on El Reg*.

    * - Sometimes simultaneously, for which I would beg forgiveness, were my shame not already over-taxed reminding me of all the other things I've done whilst drunk.

    1. Mark 85

      Re: Or . . .

      I think you hit it... I suppose that if that test were presented to me or even many fellow commentards, we'd all do the same thing depending on our boredom factor. Sort of like posting comments... oh wait!.

      1. Brewster's Angle Grinder Silver badge

        Re: Or . . .

        Basically, we're saying you need to control for people taking the piss. (I guess you ask a couple of non-software related questions and removed anyone who gets them wrong; e.g. Who is the President of the United States: (a) Bugs Bunny, (b) Howard Stern, etc...)

        1. dan1980

          Re: Or . . .

          Re: controlling for people 'taking the piss' . . .

          I've thought about that before and I think the answer is that you have to design the questions 'better'. The same would go for people guessing or randomly clicking because they've started the survey but gotten bored half-way through.

          Actually, it kind of goes for all surveys - the conclusions are only as good as the questions you ask. Every survey should have don't know/doesn't apply option to avoid legitimate takers having to guess but so many don't.

          I think a 'not sure' option here would have at least helped to reduce the amusing results.

    2. sisk

      Re: Or . . .

      I was thinking that I'd more than likely pick some of those responses myself despite knowing what all the correct answers are just because they're funny. Though you are wrong about one thing: I don't think the amusement hit would be 10 seconds. More like 3. Maybe. If I'm REALLY bored.

  12. iLurker

    Hehe more like earnest twits set the survey not realising that 50% of the respondents would find the survey rather stupid and deliberately fluff the answers., just for fun. I certainly would have.

    1. dan1980

      Dan's usual process for filling in online forms is to aggressively click through* the options until I get to the 'comments' field. Then it's the keyboard's time to feel sorry for itself. I rule; the end.

      * - I go through a lot of mouses/mice/yo mama [and footnotes (and parentheses)].

  13. Tromos

    HTML is a sexually transmitted disease

    Is that so preposterous given the number of adult sites carrying various sorts of malware?

  14. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Am I mistaken, or is Loungewear the usual name for comfortable clothing and not software?

  15. Ketlan


    I thought all those answers were correct.

  16. Brian O'Byrne


    Also wrongly decoded as the "Personal Computer Miniature Communications Interface Adapter".

  17. Frankee Llonnygog


    Dental condition caused by eating too much Stilton

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Bluetooth

      "Dental condition caused by eating too much Stilton"

      Damn, I always thought it was from blueberry syrup on pancakes...

  18. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    number 4

    "What can we learn from this study? The Reg has distilled three inisghts:"

    And here's another :

    4. Some respondents don't take the survey seriously and thought that USB should a European country if it wasn't already.

    1. 100113.1537

      Re: number 4

      Or they misheard USB for UBS and (correctly) considered the Union Bank of Switzerland to be an autonomous state...

  19. TRT Silver badge

    Human-type mesothelial-lymphoma?

  20. Dick Pountain

    No sex

    HTML is certainly a disease, but from what I've seen of web developers I seriously doubt that it's transmitted by real-world sexual contact,

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: No sex

      Just bringing up the subject I have immediately pigeon holed you as one of those people in the office that is always bragging about their latest sexual encounter, when in reality women find you repulsive due to your overbearing nature and fact that you love your self too much, but as you are in middle management they have to be polite so wont just tell you to fuck off, which you, in your sexually predatory way take as a come on, only to be shot down yet again and go home to watch subscribed to porn whilst rubbing one off and crying about your lonely existence.

  21. tmcd35

    Well that explains Internet Porn...

  22. Slx

    Even ISPs get it wrong in their marketing material!

    I constantly see and hear ISPs getting their units wrong too!

    "Get our new 70 megabyte broadband"

    Speeds: 21MB, 50MB, 70MB and now 200MB.

    I can't imagine a car manufacturer saying their car has a top speed of "140 acres". It's about as fundamental a mistake.

  23. Mark Allread

    HTML, USB and PCMCIA aren't acronyms

    So before we get too excited about taking the piss, let's make sure we know what we're talking about ourselves eh?

    1. Andrew Jones 2

      Re: HTML, USB and PCMCIA aren't acronyms

      How are they not acronyms?

      HTML = Hyper Text Markup Language

      USB = Universal Serial Bus

      PCMCIA = Personal Computer Memory Card International Association

      and of course TWAIN - which may or may not mean "Technology without an interesting name"

      Define acronym: an abbreviation formed from the initial letters of other words and pronounced as a word (e.g. ASCII, NASA ).

      They look very much and fit the definition of an acronym to me!

      1. Terry 6 Silver badge

        Re: HTML, USB and PCMCIA aren't acronyms

        FWIW I suppose technically HTML etc aren't pronounced as words, unlike, say TWAIN.

        But who gives a toss, really.

        1. TRT Silver badge

          Re: HTML, USB and PCMCIA aren't acronyms

          They are still TLAs. Of a sort.

          1. Anonymous Coward
            Anonymous Coward

            Re: HTML, USB and PCMCIA aren't acronyms

            Urr two of them don't even have three letters, and none of them are acronyms so when you're wrong, you like to do it in style don'tcha

      2. Alan Edwards

        Re: HTML, USB and PCMCIA aren't acronyms

        > How are they not acronyms?

        Because you can't pronounce them as words. An acronym is a new word formed from the letters of an abbreviation, like BASIC, RAID and NASA.

        HTML and USB are abbreviations - you have to say the letters H-T-M-L or U-S-B. They can't be said as words.

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: HTML, USB and PCMCIA aren't acronyms

          Technically correct but for how long? Enough people think any initialism is an acronym that the definition of the word will sooner or later have to catch up.

          I do enjoy pointing out to people at work that "TLA" isn't an acronym. Then I like to explain the difference between being pedantic and being accurate :D I'm such an arse

  24. P_0

    Is blu ray still an acronym?

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Not even close, it's this other thing we call a brand name

  25. MooseNC

    I used to think it was impossible to be this absolutely duh, but when a friend recently told me how his boss asked him how you handed people stuff (just a regular item) and he showed him how, his boss got upset and called him a smartass.

  26. Anonymous Coward
    Paris Hilton

    I'm here all week....

    HTML = Help, Todger's Mimmicing Lactation?

    TLD = Torrential Lime-coloured Discharge?

    SCSI = Stinging C*ck, Seriously Irritating?

    KB = Knob's Burning?

    MCSD = My C*ck Shouldn't Do-that?

    et al.....

  27. Tom 13

    El Reg missed a 4th possibility which,

    given their slogan, should be a bit obvious:

    There are a bunch of Americans who think its fun to pants an online survey being sponsored by the LA Times.

  28. Miles Dyson

    Silly Americans.

    HTML is merely the transmission vector. It's JS that is the sexually transmitted disease.

  29. Neoc


    Backronym: Technology Without An Interesting Name or Toolkit Without An Informative Name (take your pick).

    Actual: comes from the phrase "never the twain shall meet" (Kipling), since that was exactly its purpose.

  30. sisk

    HTML is definately NOT a STD

    If HTML were an STD it would almost certainly not get spread very far.

    (Also, if anyone finds this web developer's wife's sex drive lying around, please return it to her.)

  31. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    HTML is definately NOT a STD (sic)

    I don't believe anyone confuses HTML with Subscriber Trunk Dialling.

    If you are worried about catching HTML or even PHP do what I do and always wear a condom when using a computer. So far I'm not infected, but I have a rather annoying itch on the old undercarriage.

  32. Maryland, USA

    My favorite IT acronym is the scanner interface, TWAIN

    Technology Without An Interesting Name

    Yep, that's it's real name!

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