On February 3, I received this cryptic note from the WordPress folks saying I had reached 1337 likes…

First of all I couldn’t make head nor tails about the magic of the number 1337. I could understand reaching 1,000 likes as a milestone, but 1,337…?! I decided to check this out, but a short holiday in Catalunia, Spain came first. So yesterday evening I found some time to do some digging.

The first thing I did is run 1337 through Wikipedia which featured a sentence on top of the page saying ‘This article is about the year 1337. For the internet subculture term, see leet.’

As curiosity never killed any cat of mine, I naturally clicked on leet:

Leet (or “1337“), also known as eleet or leetspeak, is a system of modified spellings used primarily on the Internet. It often uses character replacements in ways that play on the similarity of their glyphs via reflection or other resemblance.

The term “leet” is derived from the word elite, used as an adjective to describe formidable prowess or accomplishment, especially in the fields of online gaming and computer hacking. The leet lexicon includes spellings of the word as 1337 or l33t.’

Leet speak alphabet
The leet-speak alphabet

But that’s not all, Wikipedia continues with:

‘Leet originated within bulletin board systems (BBS) in the 1980s,[1][2] where having “elite” status on a BBS allowed a user access to file folders, games, and special chat rooms. The Cult of the Dead Cow hacker collective has been credited with the original coining of the term, in their text-files of that era.[3] One theory is that it was developed to defeat text filters created by BBS or Internet Relay Chat system operators for message boards to discourage the discussion of forbidden topics, like cracking and hacking.[1] Creative misspellings and ASCII-art-derived words were also a way to attempt to indicate one was knowledgeable about the culture of computer users.

Once the reserve of hackers, crackers, and script kiddies, leet has since entered the mainstream.[1] It is now also used to mock newbies, also known colloquially as noobs, or newcomers, on web sites, or in gaming communities.note

Ah, so there you have it. 1337 identifies me either as a member of some ‘elite’. To which my response would be ‘thank you very kindly but I never started this blogging thing to belong to a certain class, let alone ‘elite’. Here in Europe we fought some bloody turf wars (the first one was the French Revolution in 1789) to get rid of this classy nonsense.’

Or WordPress uses it to mock people like me with being a Newbie or a Noob. Which, in all fairness, I still am this far in the game, but do I need to be reminded of that by WordPress?

But in all fairness no, I refuse to believe a money-making machine like WordPress would dare to mock one of its paying customers. But I’d take my cap off to them if they would have the balls to do so. Now, there’s a refreshing thought for their marketers, is it not?

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