Wednesday, April 18, 2007

The Department of Emoticon Regulation Answers Frequently Asked Questions

Hello. I'm John Cludge, the Assistant Chair for the Department of Emoticon Regulation (DER), the administrative body responsible for the maintenance of proper standards of grammar and spelling on the internet. I'd like to take this opportunity to answer a few of your questions.


The first email comes from Janey Mathers of Hamtown, Wales.
Thank you. Thank you very much.


This next letter comes Mackles P Mackles, of Macklesville, Greater Mackletown, Ohio.
Dear DER,

What is the appropriate way to punctuate emoticons? Your biggest fan,

'Punctuate'? What's that?

HA! Just kidding! Of course, normal grammatical rules apply to emoticons, with a few important exceptions.


'-' before ':' except after ')';

Leave space between emoticons. You wouldn't want ':-)' and ')-:' to run together, or you'd get ':-))-:', which doesn't make much sense.

Avoid excessive punctuation: an extra comma after an emoticon clutters the page needlessly. '(-:' makes sense, '(-:,' may not.

Keep sharp objects and slashes (for instance, '/', '\') away from your colons. You wouldn't want them to get hurt.

Avoid using Assicons and Titicons in polite company.


Jimmy Visp of Vilmington, NSW, Australia, writes:
(Actually, just speaking for myself, Jimmy, I'm not GYZ. Not that there's anything wrong with being a GYZ who likes other GYZ. Many of my best friends are GYZ. As a matter of fact, I'd like to congratulate you for coming out of the electronic closet and admitting that you are GYZ. Good for you! I'm sure you'll find many supportive friends at your school and they will all be very GYZ (ie, happy) about it.)


Several complaints have been received this year. One comes from Arthur Oddsod of Elsternwick in Victoria.
You people really are atrocious! It really makes me nauseous every time I read the drivel your so-called 'experts' have reduced our language to. Why, to think that English, the grand language of Shakespeare, Spencer, Donne, Wordsworth, Coleridge, Blake, Tennyson and Eliot, has been reduced to the proliferation of little 'emoticons' and 'avatars' on the computer screen! The putrefying mess that is our language nowadays is truly (etc, etc, etc...)
Dear Alistair,

When we first saw your letter, we were rather :-O, and then we were very X. One of our office members was even >:-< and kept GRRRRRing and AGGGGGGHING in the corner to themselves. But after thinking about it, we decided that we were just very :-( for you. One of us even started to :'-(. We hope you can find it in your <3 to get with the times, ASAP. We're sending lots of ((((())))) and XXX your way.

In summary, we wish you lots of :-) and hope you find joys from the little things, like *** and XXX. We puffy <3 U very much!

Oh, and PS - ;-p

We received an interesting query from Joseph Clug in Griffith, Australia. Dear DER (he writes):
How many ()s and Xs can we use on the net before it becomes pornographic?
(We are informed that Arthur spends his days surfing the net looking for images of bald Asian felines).
Arthur, that's a very good letter. Protocol on these matters can be very difficult, and of course between two consenting adults, anything goes. But there are a few rules which you can go by.

One to three Xs is fine. Anything above three Xs might be construed as pornographic, so don't X someone repeatedly unless they X you back.

()s are generally considered as a friendly gesture, unless they appear in the context of a flirtatious ;-) or an X.

Sometimes you might X someone when they are :-( just to cheer them up. But limit the number of Xs, otherwise things might get out of hand.

Don't stroke another person's hyphen unless they ask you to, and certainly never do it in public.


Well, that's enough for the moment. I'd like to thank everyone for emailing in to the DER and taking time to read these answers. Happy websurfing, folks! ;-p


Anonymous said...

':-))-:' equals a self-riot!

I never put noses in emoticons. What's the department's view on that?

TimT said...

My own reaction would be, how do the emoticons breathe, but I'll forward it on to the Department.

Alexis, Baron von Harlot said...

I've seen Abe Lincoln


and I've seen Homer Simpson


but what I'd really like to see an emu emoticon (an emuticon?) and/or an Emo emoticon (although I'm not sure how you'd render the safety pin).

TimT said...

Not sure about that, but here's an auk!

TimT said...


/ ,~a`-,
\ \_.-"`
) (
,/ ."\
/ ( |
/ ) ;
jgs / / /
,/_."` /`
/_/\ |___

TimT said...

Looks like the auk just went on a diet!

Alexis, Baron von Harlot said...

That auk needs puffin' up.

Anonymous said...

Isn't it amazing what people can do when they have too much time on their hands! I think that's when all the great inventions are born.
The Emo emoticon just needs a judicious application of the bold key in order to suggest eyeliner.

TimT said...

The puffin needs stuffin'.

Anonymous said...

Thank you for all your queries, ladies and gentlemen. A detailed response will be forthcoming.

TimT said...


Homer Simpson on a diet.

Email: timhtrain - at -

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