ntl.talk logo
The Meaning of JBEX in ntl.talk

Anybody who visits .talktown will very quickly become aware of the use of a word rarely found elsewhere:- jbex

What does jbex mean?

Strictly speaking jbex means nothing. That is to say, to a .talker the word should be interpreted as being meaningless. This is because it is used for obfuscation, as a substitute for another word which is very far from meaningless, a word which many in .talktown find distasteful and offensive and that, by common approval, has been deemed unsuitable for polite utterance in .talktown. That other word is w... wo... wor... noooo! I'm sorry I cannot utter it, not even for the sake of explanation.

So to put it another way, I'll explain how the substitution was arrived at and then the reader may establish for themselves the identity of that other word. The secret is in ROT13.


ROT13 is a very simple method of encoding text. It means to rotate the character by 13 places. Therefore the letters of the alphabet are rotated or shifted forwards (or back) by 13 places. Since the (Roman) alphabet is comprised of 26 letters all that is necessary to do is to either add 13 to the desired letter's place, or index, in the alphabet if it has an index of 13 or less, or to subtract 13 should the index be greater than 13. The letter that is indicated by the modified index (after adding or subtracting 13) is then used in the place of the original letter.

1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13 14 15 16 17 18 19 20 21 22 23 24 25 26
14 15 16 17 18 19 20 21 22 23 24 25 26 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13


the letter 'J' index 10 (10+13=23) maps to index 23 which is the letter 'W'
the letter 'B' index 2 (2+13=15) maps to index 15 which is the letter 'O'
the letter 'E' index 5 (5+13=18) maps to index 18 which is the letter 'R'
the letter 'X' index 24 (24-13=11) maps to index 11 which is the letter 'K'

Or to put it another way:

10 2 5 24
23 15 18 11

Naturally other words may be, and are, encoded using ROT13 but in .talktown this is the most common usage of this encryption technique. One other word that is similarly encoded is encoded as follows:- wbo. I shall leave the reader to de-crypt that themselves.

Why jbex?

There are some .talkers who find 'real life' (r/l) is full of things that cause them to look for an alternative reality or 'virtual life' (v/l) in which they can switch off from the trials, tribulations and minutiae of r/l. One of the common sources of these problems in r/l stems from their everyday occupations, therefore it was decreed early in .talktown's existence that reference to that activity is frowned upon, and that if reference were necessary, then to spare the feelings of those so afflicted then the reference should be obscured in some way in order that they should not be jolted out of their v/l and into their r/l existence unnecessarily.

Historically simple forms of obfuscation were used, the most common being the substitution of an asterisk '*' in the place of the vowel, i.e. w*rk, this is still an acceptable means of obfuscation however jbex is, obviously, a less obvious obfuscation. Another form is to refer to the 'W' word.

Some have seen fit to obfuscate other words related to employment. Whilst this is indeed to be welcomed, to a point, it should be noted that .talkers are pragmatists and recognise that it is necessary to refer to activities unrelated to remunerative, or gainful, employment. Besides we have to draw the line somewhere ... or do we? Since the other words have not yet been found to be as offensive, or related as directly to the r/l activity, they are less often obfuscated.

Yeah, but no, but yeah, but ...

It should be noted that the use of jbex is not mandatory in .talktown, although in polite company it is expected. There are some .talkers, notably amongst the younger population of .talktown, who may argue that they either do not have problems with this aspect of their r/l, or indeed are not old enough to need to attain remunerative employment. They are to be reminded that the custom of obfuscation is in deference to the sensibilities of their fellow residents and not to their own feelings upon the matter.

I got <'addock>ed - Why?

Addocks at dawn Oops! That wasn't very polite of you was it? You obviously forgot where you were and used the unROT13ed form of jbex. Never mind, within a short while you were gently (with luck) reminded by way of a chastisement. This is known as a <'addock>ing.

Historically the traditional chastisement was a <slap> but, talkers being talkers, things went a bit further one day and somebody (Beaker claims this honour) decided to retaliate with a piece of wet fish. This fish was later identified as being a Haddock and thereafter it was established as the 'plat du jour' for this activity.

Should the offence taken be deemed sufficient, the chastiser (or affronted) may set about the chastisee (or affronter) with a piece of (virtual) fish taken from their freezer (or extricated from Pingu's igloo), a frozen fish slap being a much sterner admonishment than one administered with a standard, floppy, wet fish. The most extreme rebuke of all has, I believe, yet to be meted out. This would take the form of a slapping with a fish that has been removed from its natural element for several weeks and allowed to decompose, the accompanying virtual stench will be beyond belief and certainly a most extreme reminder to the .talker concerned.

Quite how this chastisement policy would proceed should a resident going by the name of 'addock' join us in residence in .talktown is open to debate. Although it does not strictly go against the 'Do Not Eat The Residents' policy, such treatment may be deemed to be unnecessarily cruel (or maybe pervertedly nice) and the practice discontinued. Then again perhaps not ;o)

Okay I understand jbex but why netjbex or jbexing?

Such is the distressing effect that reading the unmodified word, even in compound with other words or letters, that it has been found necessary to obfuscate that part of those words that is offensive.

It should be noted that different .talkers obfuscate to different degrees. The plural, or adjectival, form of jbex may be represented as jbexs or jbexf and indeed some may ROT13 the entire compound structure giving us 'argjbex' and 'jbexvat', or even 'argjbexvat'! However it should be noted that this is uncommon and is actually counter productive since it is often necessary to unROT13 the entire compound word in order to understand the meaning, this then will reveal to the afflicted the terrible meaning hidden within.

Is jbex unique to .talk?

I should say not! A quick Google of Google groups, reveals that jbex is not confined to .talktown. Indeed some, notably dwellers of uk.rec.sheds, have taken it further and use a phonetic version of the obfuscation - jaybecks - This is I feel a step too far since it is not possible for the encryption to be easily reversed.

ntl.talk logo
Authored by Rix
Copyright © ntalk.org 2005-2006