Amazon

Amazon's Book forum is—big surprise!—mostly about books. There's a long running thread about what different users are reading at the moment; another comparing used book deals; and many other shorter threads on everything from the modern perception of Leon Uris's Exodus to recommendations for Dick Cheney's new book.

Then there's the thread, "Your favorite slang words."

"Your favorite slang words" is exactly what it sounds like. The thread, now an astonishing 36 pages, was started one evening this February by someone going by the username D. Vicks. It is a place for posters in the Book forum to share slang phrases and words they like.

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But, over the course of several months, the thread has become something more involved, a sort of commonplace book for a handful of dedicated users. The thread is mostly a repository of language that users like, but occasionally small bits of information about who different posters are and why they like the slang they do bubble up.

D. Vicks inaugurated the discussion with no fanfare or explanation, just the title and this initial contribution to the discussion of favorite slang:

Sarcasm Slang:A real Winner.Or a real Pill.

Nobody responded until the next morning when an Arizonan, JZS, added the following:

Oh so many…
Holy Moly, Jeez Louise, critter factor, Well that's charming (sarcasm), Holy S***! and s-o-o-o many more.

The thread was off to the races (a good nugget of slang, while we're here). At first there was some back and forth about the origins of different slang terms, or their present usage. For instance, the first page of the thread features an exchange about the Australian use of "Sheila" as a way of referring to a woman.

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For the better part of a month and 12 or so pages the thread is an exchange about slang and language and how different posters came to the slang they use now. D. Vicks also reappears often with brief contributions:

While the thread has since slowed down, it has continued its slow crawl onwards these past 9 months. Often this occurs with the help of its creator, who will pop out of his hole to contribute a single slang phrase to the forum, and continue its lifespan:

Various other regulars also appear, offering slang:

Sometimes the slang is naughty!

Sometimes anatomical metaphors and dirty euphemism mix with…the word "groovy":

Occasionally a more involved linguistic discussion will start again, but it usually ends pretty quickly. The thread trails on as an exchange of staccato messages between a couple of dedicated users, generally one or two words at a time.

And sometimes it really is just D. Vicks compiling words himself, ever the most enigmatic poster in the thread:

As I write this, some of the latest posts are from the thread's creator updating us on his latest favorite slang:

By rubber, does Vicks mean a condom or an eraser? We may never know. His posts are almost always this characteristically brief, simply listing a word or two, and very rarely offering a source or a meaning.

The thread reads like a group of older people spitting words at each other (I'm probably influenced into thinking this by the sort of slang they're offering up and the fact that one regular, Allen Smalling, explains in his Amazon profile that he's a retiree in Chicago). It's odd, slow, and even meditative to read; nonetheless it's worth exploring for a bit, a small online alcove that's been carved out by its contributors. Though less expansive and elegiac, it's got shades of filmmaker Mark Slutsky's Sad YouTube project, which collects the memories and regrets left in comments sections across YouTube.

It's a small case of what makes message boards potentially exciting in the first place: using a forum for something it's not quite intended for, but which ends up being a much more interesting way to use it anyway.

Ethan Chiel is a reporter for Fusion, writing mostly about the internet and technology. You can (and should) email him at ethan.chiel@fusion.net