BIFF

:"This article is about the Usenet pseudonym. For the Berlin International Film Festival, see that article. For other meanings, see Biff (disambiguation)."

BIFF, later sometimes B1FF, was the most famous pseudonym on, and the prototypical newbie of, Usenet, the precursor to the World Wide Web. Now virtually unknown outside of a hard core of pre-web internet technophiles, BIFF was created as and widely taken up as a satire of a partly amusing, partly annoying, mostly unwelcome intrusion into a then fairly rarefied community.

BIFF

BIFF was apparently a pre-adolescent American who had no real computer (or social) skills but possessed a then novel home computer and a then even more novel internet connection. Posts from BIFF were characterised by all-uppercase typing liberally interspersed with bangs, typos, "cute" misspellings, use (and often misuse) of fragments of chat abbreviations, a long sig block ("Signature"), sometimes even a doubled sig, and a combination of extreme naïveté and overweening self-confidence in this new (to "him") domain.

A sentence exemplifying BIFF would be::"EVRY BUDY LUVS GOOD OLD BIFF CUZ HE'S A K00L DOOD AN HE RITES REEL AWESUM THINGZ IN CAPITULL LETTRS LIKE THIS!!!"

BIFF posted articles using his elder brother's Commodore VIC-20. "(At a time when most active internet users were sophisticated computer scientists sharing centrally managed "big metal"—mainframes or minicomputers—the VIC-20 was a landmark entry-level machine targeted at the general public, was typically owned by pre-adolescent teens, and was considered to be laughably incapable by the majority of internet users at the time: it and its users were a common subject of parody and disparagement.)" BIFF's location was a mystery, as his articles appeared to come from a variety of sites. However, BITNET seemed to be the most frequent origin. The theory that BIFF was a denizen of BITNET was supported by BIFF's "(unfortunately invalid)" [Eric S. Raymond ("ESR"), [http://www.catb.org/jargon Jargon File] ] electronic mail address: .

Origin

BIFF was originally created by Joe Talmadge, also the author of the infamous and much-plagiarised " [http://www.netfunny.com/rhf/jokes/88q1/13785.8.html Flamer's Bible] " (1987). The BIFF filter he wrote was later passed to Richard Sexton, who posted BIFFisms much more widely and was credited by Talmadge as popularising BIFF.

"Richard Sexton:"
I make no claim to inventing BIFF. Blame Joe Talmadge. Joe wasn'ttoo busy one year at HP and invented a whole cast of characterssuch as SYSTEMS ADMINISTRATOR MAN, Bobby Joe (Dedicated Wobegonlistener), Joe Supportive (soc.singles reader for 1.5 years) andof course the big bad BIFFSTER. ...

"Joe Talmadge:"
Oh. Hey. Don't blame me. It's Webber's fault.
Anyway, I may have invented BIFF, but Richard made him famous.Richard is the Roy Crock [Apparently a mis-remembering of Ray Kroc, who came upon a single family-run "restaurant" and turned it into the global phenomenon that is [http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mcdonalds#History McDonalds] ] of BIFF; meanwhile, I fade quietly intoobscurity. [ [http://groups.google.com/group/news.groups/browse_thread/thread/a01025d8dab0f46f/5a8b82cd3ab82959?hl=en&lnk=st&q=%22joe+talmadge%22+BIFF#5a8b82cd3ab82959 USENET postings, 1990.01.08-16] ]

Versions have since been posted for the amusement of the net at large.

"Richard Sexton:"
I posted a few BIFF articles from my account at gryphon, butnow there are about 20 people, well connected, posting BIFFforgeries. You probably don't want to hear that the people doingthem had to find something to occupy themselves after theydissolved the backbone cabal. [ [http://groups.google.com/group/news.groups/browse_thread/thread/a01025d8dab0f46f/5a8b82cd3ab82959?hl=en&lnk=st&q=%22joe+talmadge%22+BIFF#5a8b82cd3ab82959 USENET posting, 1990.01.08:1711] ]

Cultural significance and later decline

BIFF served as a satire of an exceptional behaviour in a fairly homogeneous environment. [for an example, see [http://www.eyrie.org/~thad/strange/b1ff.html Letter from B1FF] (1995)]

The explosive growth of the web led to the rapid decline of BIFF, as on the one hand Biffisms became no longer exceptional, and on the other the web rapidly became a much larger much more heterogeneous environment, leading both to newcomers not being aware of BIFF's existence and to BIFF becoming less contrasting as an exception in the increasingly more "noisy" internet.

By 2000 BIFF was virtually unknown among even dedicated internet users.

Continued existence

In the sense of caricaturing the prototypical pre-adolescent or over-self-confident noob on the net, BIFF's legacy lives on, in practice if not in name.

Over and above apparently inspiring the naming and style of the precursor to l33tsp33k [B1ff] , BIFFisms continue to be seen today in many internet forums and comment threads, both in direct posts and in deliberate ironic imitation. Every internet user who has used l33tsp33k ironically ("the ph34r!") or mocked pre-teen gamers or IRCers ("OMG WTF!!!111 kthxbye") is essentially using a modernised BIFF. BIFF, like Eliza Doolittle, appears to be a specifically created yet immediately classic shibboleth of some fundamental human behaviours, on the part of both the parodied and the parodying. Further examples of this can be seen in regards to [http://www.somethingawful.com/hosted/jeffk/ JeffK] .

An example Biffism

This was posted on the Usenet Oracle mailing list digest 775-06: [Usenet Oracle, [http://cgi.cs.indiana.edu/~oracle/digest.cgi?N=775#775-06 Usenet Oracularities #775 ] (1995.09.15), compiled by Steve Kinzler]

The Usenet Oracle has pondered your question deeply. Your question was:

> Oh great oracle,>> what do you do with a supplicant who leaves his .sig at> the end of his questions?> --> --And in response, thus spake the Oracle:

} WHAT R U TALK1N' ABOUT MAN? SIGZ ROOL!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! LATER MAN. BIFF. --} BBBBBBBBBBBBB IIIIIIIII FFFFFFFFFFFFFFFFFFFFFFF} BBBBBBBBBBBBBB IIIIIIIII FFFFFFFFFFFFFFFFFFFFFFF} BBB BBB III FFF FFF} BBB BBB III FFF FFF} BBB BBB III FFF FFF} BBBBBBBBBBBBB III FFFFFFFFF FFFFFFFFF} BBBBBBBBBBBBBB III FFFFFFFFF FFFFFFFFF} BBB BBB III FFF FFF} BBB BBB III FFF FFF} BBB BBB III FFF FFF} BBBBBBBBBBBBB IIIIIIIII FFF FFF} BIFF@BIT.NET BBBBBBBBBBBB IIIIIIIII FFF FFF BIFF@PSUVM.PSU.EDU} BIFF@BIFFVM.BIT.NET BIFF+@ANDREW.CMU.EDU} B1FF@AOL.COM B1FF@DELPHI.COM B1FF@PRODIGY.COM B1FF@COMU$ERVE.COM} B1FF@NETCOM.COM B1FF@WORLD.STD.COM B1FF@MCS.COM} B1FF@B1FFNET.FIDONET.ORG B1FF@WELL.SF.CA.US} B1FF@ATHENA.MIT.EDU B1FF@CYBER.SELL.COM} BIFF@MSN.COM MY SIG /^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^ WAITING} CAN BEAT !@@@@@@NUKULAR@@@@@@@@! 4} UP YOUR ------------------------- ARMAGEDIN} SIG !@@@@@@@@BIFF@@@@@@@@@! IT"LL B} !!! --------! !--------/ AWESOME!!!!} ! !} --------- THIS SPACE 4 RENT CALL BIFF} /\ ! ! HA HA FOOLED YOU!!!} ||| / } /-} /----/-------------------------------------------------------------} | BIFF|@|AOL.DELPHI.PRODIGY.COMPU$ERVE.NETCOM.WORLD.MSN.B1FF.EDU DUDE!>} -----/------------------------------------------------------------/} -/} |-| BANG THE FALSE METAL HEAD THAT DUZZN"T DRINK BEER!!!} /// HOT METAL TUBS RULE IN A MAJOR WAY DUDEZ!!! __________ __________ ___________ ___________ __} / / / /| / /| / /| / /} / / / // / // / // / /
} ********** / **********/ ***********/ ***********/ **
} ** |____** / ** ** |______ ** |______ **
} ** / ** ** ** / /| ** / /| **
} **/ **/ ** ** / // ** / // **
} **********/ / ** *********/ *********/ ** /} ** |____** // __**______ ** | ** | **/} ** / **/ / ** /| ** | ** | / /
} **/ **/ / ** // ** / ** / ** /} **********/ **********/ **/ **/ **/ BIFF@BIT.NET BIFF@PSUVM.PSU.EDU BIFF@BIFFVM.BIT.NET BIFF+@ANDREW.CMU.EDU} B1FF@AOL.COM B1FF@DELPHI.COM B1FF@PRODIGY.COM B1FF@COMU$ERVE.COM} B1FF@NETCOM.COM B1FF@WORLD.STD.COM B1FF@MCS.COM} B1FF@B1FFNET.FIDONET.ORG B1FF@WELL.SF.CA.US} B1FF@ATHENA.MIT.EDU B1FF@CYBER.SELL.COM} BIFF@MSN.COM K0M1NG S00N T0 THEATREZ NEER U!!!!!!} _______ _______*_______ _______ _______ _______ _______ __ __} +. /____ //______//______//______/ /______/ /____ / /______//_/ /_/} ` _____/ / __ _____ . _____ , __ _____/ / ______ ____} , / ___ _/. / / . / ___/ '/ ___/ +. / / / _ __/ / ___/ / /} / /__/ | __/ /__ / / . , / / , . / / / / / /___ / / } /______/ /______//_/ * + /_/ *, ` ,/_/ /_/ _ /______//_/ _ FEETUR1NG THE GRATE B1FF1NSK1 AS C4PTA1N B1FF!!!!!! B1FF 4RUOND TH4 W3RLD!!!!!} .} _--_|} P3RTH--> / <--SIND3Y} _.--._/} v<---B1FFSM4NIA!!!!!!! ___ (_)} _/XXX} /XXXXXX_ <-- MT. B1FF1NGT0N __} __ __ /X XXXX XX MT. K1BO (SHORT3R _ /XX__ ___} __/ _/__ TH4N B1FF'Z) ----> _/X__ /XX XXX____/XXX} ___ / _ __ _/ _/ _/ - __ -} __/ __/ __ \__ / _// _ _ __ / ____} __ / _ _//____ _/ // ___/ / __/} /__________________/_________ _/_____/_____________/___________/___} /|} / | _____ ____} / | V /} THE RO4D T0 B1FFN3SS!!!! / | | R00T
} / | | 666 | +---------+} ALL MUST TR4V3L 1T / | ___ ___/ | B1FF
} / | V | R00LZ!!
} SUMD4Y!!!!!!!! / | | o +---------+} / | | o} / | | |__/| .~ ~.} / | | /o=o'`./ .'} / | | {o__, {} / | / . . ) } / | `-` '-' | .( _( )_.'} | '---.~_ _ _|

References

* The [http://www.catb.org/jargon Jargon File] — a primary canonical reference for early internet esoterica, latterly maintained and preserved by Eric S. Raymond ("ESR")

ee also

* leet
* B1ff
* Kibo, another famous Internet pseudonym
* [http://www.somethingawful.com/hosted/jeffk/ JeffK]

External links

* [http://groups.google.com/group/news.groups/browse_thread/thread/a01025d8dab0f46f/5a8b82cd3ab82959?hl=en&lnk=st&q=%22joe+talmadge%22+BIFF#5a8b82cd3ab82959 USENET record of the creators of BIFF musing on the creation of BIFF: Richard Sexton and Joe Talmadge]


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